Book Bans in American Libraries: Impact of Politics on Inclusive Content Consumption

33 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2023 Last revised: 3 Nov 2023

See all articles by Uttara M Ananthakrishnan

Uttara M Ananthakrishnan

Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

Naveen Basavaraj

Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Students

Sabari Rajan Karmegam

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management

Ananya Sen

Carnegie Mellon University

Michael D. Smith

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: June 23, 2023

Abstract

Banning of books has become increasingly prevalent and politically polarizing in the United States. While the primary goal of these bans is to restrict access to books, conversations about the bans have garnered attention on a wider scale. This increased attention to bans can either have a chilling effect or can influence consumers to read the banned books. In this study, we use a novel, large-scale dataset of US library book circulations and evaluate the impact of book bans on the consumption of banned books. Using a staggered difference-in-differences design, we find that the circulations of banned books increased by 12% on average compared to comparable non-banned titles after the ban. We also find that banning a book in a state leads to increased circulation in states without bans. We show that the increase in consumption is driven by books from lesser-known authors suggesting that new and unknown authors stand to gain from the increasing consumer support. Additionally, our results demonstrate that books with higher visibility on social media following the ban see an increase in consumption, suggesting a link between social media and political consumerism. We also find that book bans have a tangible political impact through campaign donations - Republican Party candidates attract significantly more campaign donations than Democratic candidates, following the ban events but only in Republican-leaning states.

Keywords: book bans, political consumerism, library, social media

JEL Classification: P16, M31, M38, I20

Suggested Citation

Ananthakrishnan, Uttara M and Basavaraj, Naveen and Karmegam, Sabari Rajan and Sen, Ananya and Smith, Michael D., Book Bans in American Libraries: Impact of Politics on Inclusive Content Consumption (June 23, 2023). Donald G. Costello College of Business at George Mason University Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4489684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4489684

Uttara M Ananthakrishnan (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy ( email )

5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

Naveen Basavaraj

Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Students ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Sabari Rajan Karmegam

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Ananya Sen

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Michael D. Smith

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~mds

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
433
Abstract Views
1,694
Rank
116,434
PlumX Metrics