These readers buy, subscribe to, and borrow books at higher rates than the general population. They engage at higher rates in fan fiction and discover new authors across multiple media, including streaming movies and television. These readers are also pirates.

Immersive Media and Books 2020 is the first study to capture data expressly about how people engage with books, video games, film, and TV. The final report focuses sharply on reader behavior across a wide range of demographic groups, based on surveys conducted before and during the pandemic.

Co-authors Dr. Rachel Noorda and Dr. Kathi Inman Berens probe especially for reasons why book readers may choose to become book pirates – and they offer data-informed guidance on turning book buccaneers back into book buyers.

“In the publishing industry, book piracy has been seen a binary categorization – you’re a book buyer or you’re not and there’s a hefty moral judgment that comes with that,” explains Dr. Rachel Noorda, Director of Book Publishing and Assistant Professor in English at Portland State University.

“But they aren’t just thieves; they are willing to open their wallets,” she tells CCC. Later this year, Cambridge University Press will publisher Dr. Noorda’s new book, Entrepreneurship in U.S. Book Publishing in the Twenty-First Century.

“During COVID-19 lockdowns, book pirates bought significantly more media across channels, meaning games and streaming film and TV, than the general survey respondents,” adds Dr. Kathi Inman Berens, Associate Professor of Book Publishing and Digital Humanities, Portland State University, and co-editor of the forthcoming Electronic Literature Collection Volume 4.

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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