Digitization and the Demand for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project by Abhishek Nagaraj, Imke Reimers :: SSRN
peter.suber's bookmarks 2020-05-22
Abstract: The age of digitization promised to deliver a centralized, digital repository of all pre-existing knowledge. However, concerns about cannibalizing demand for physical works have led copyright holders to block the realization of this vision. We investigate the effect of digitization on demand for physical works using novel data tracking the timing of the digitization of individual books from Harvard University's libraries through the Google Books project. Digitization hurt loans within Harvard but increased sales of physical editions by about 35%, especially for less popular works. Rather than harming copyright holders, mass digitization could significantly increase the diffusion of historical works.