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November 5, 2008


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Association of American Publishers CEO Pat Schroeder says the economic meltdown isn’t affecting the book market so much, partly thanks to the Internet. When we stopped by her 50 F St. office this week, the 12 term former Colorado Congresswoman and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate told us the industry’s embrace of sites like Amazon means all those consumers who are staying home are finding ways to buy online.


The AAP’s “Get Caught Reading” campaign has spurred a Laura Bush action figure and more readers. Pat says books are still “a lot of entertainment for the money,” and member companies are finding many new ways to use the Internet to sell and promote books into America’s “coffee shop culture”: used book trade-in programs at airports, downloadable digital books, and a growing number of book clubs.


“Digital Piracy” has been a big concern for the AAP as entrepreneurs illegally scan and upload college textbooks on Web sites and charge a subscription fee to students. AAP has hired local firm Covington & Burling to help shut down some illegal sites, keeping the elusive “Geek Man” on the run. Pat reports that the pirate publisher recently posted a message agreeing to shut down his site and not open new sites under threat of personal lawsuits from publishing companies. Pat says lowering textbook costs for students is best achieved if universities allow students to buy textbooks online direct from the publisher before the start of class, instead of giving their university bookstore a monopoly.


Pat collected historic photographs of her distant cousin Harry Truman. One day while seeking refuge from the press, the late JFK Jr. saw the photos in her Congressional office and remarked that he didn’t know his father had a relationship with Truman. Pat recalls JFK Jr. saying, “It’s so hard to have someone’s name that everybody thinks they know, but I don’t even know.” As a wedding gift, Pat wrapped up two of the photos for him. JFK Jr. wrote back a three-page hand-written letter of thanks for the best wedding gift he had received.

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