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Book industries and trade, Publishers and publishing -- United States, Books -- Marketing, Consumer behavior, Book industry -- Digital humanities


Based on nationally representative survey research (with a sample size of 4314) from the Immersive Media 2020 project, this paper highlights surprising findings from one particular segment of respondents: book pirates. Contrary to current publishing industry policies toward book pirates and general narratives about book piracy in the twenty-first century, the survey data illustrates that book pirates can not be reduced to simple thieves; they are, in fact, book borrowers, subscribers, and buyers. They discover through crossmedia, finding new books via engagement with TV/movies and game, and they buy books in multiple formats. Through this illuminating survey data, this paper addresses key questions such as the following:

  • What cultural, social, technological, legal, and economic underpinnings frame book piracy in the US?
  • What are the demographics of book pirates and how do factors of age, race, and gender construct important contexts for book pirates?
  • What is the role of libraries in book piracy (14.4% of survey respondents said they engaged in piracy, 15.5% pirate books when they are unavailable through the library)?


Paper presented at the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing Conference (SHARP), virtual, July 26-30, 2021.

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1_9r71wuh5.srt (36 kB)
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