Tuesday, October 17, 2006

For Sale: "Former Library Book"

I am seeing this far too frequently on used book sites when it comes to valuable, out-of-print books. Call me cynical, but I fear a high proportion of these books are stolen from libraries. (It would be interesting to generate a distribution of used book listings containing "library book" at various price levels. A good Amazon coder could probably do this quickly and easily.)

Price information is essential for market efficiency. Unfortunately, there is probably a downside to widely available price information in this case: theft from institutions which may not be appropriately prepared to deal with the problem of increasing demands by book thieves.

Surely, libraries have always been home to valuable out-of-print books, but now the market value of such books is easily available. I hope there's another explanation, but my guess is this is creating new problems. If they don't already, Amazon and other used books sites should do what they can to put policies in place to discourage this.

[library science][library][libraries]


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