Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reading Esquire In Prison


Inmates do well to spend their time reading, when they've got nothing much else to do. As a publisher, I'd say about once every three months we get a letter from a prison inmate asking for a catalog, or at least more information on the kind of books we publish. The letters rarely contain any useful information (is this for personal use, library-stocking, profit-making resale?), and some clearly have no idea what kind of a publisher we are. However, Wifey and I were talking about this on the drive to Wisconsin a few weeks ago, and noted that one out of every 140 Americans are in prison (source: 1 2 ) is a significant portion of society for whom having access to books would be a greater benefit than most recreational readers. It made us wonder if there's publishers or distributors catering to this, ahem, "captive" market, providing non-contraband books that would provide a value to an incarcerated person, possibly with funding from non-profits or federal grants due to the beneficial nature of the business. As a small niche business goes, we know crime and prisons aren't going away anytime soon, and that's the market to get into according to most entrepeneurial advice.

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