This very interesting study illustrates quite clearly how copyright and corporate greed have resulted in the unavailability of books over the past few generations. There are more books from 1910 in print today than there are from 1990. Astonishing when you think about it, because far more books were published in 1990 than in 1910, but the books published more recently are not in the public domain, won’t be for decades, and because of how the corporate publishing world operates, most of those books will never be in print in our lifetime.
Self-publishing will change this, to some extent, as more and more authors take ownership of their own copyrights and keep their books in print in perpetuity, but authors of the past few generations are shit out of luck for the most part. Their books, if they were lucky enough to get them published in the first place, remain in print for only a very short time before they disappear for good. And why? Because of the outside chance that some day, some how, those corporations might just possibly be able to profit once again from those books. There might be a scandal. Who can tell? But in the meantime, you can kiss those books goodbye. It’s a shame.
- How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish (theatlantic.com)