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Ricky Thompson

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Could the street theft rate of Kindles be used as a good early indicator of literacy rate changes across and between communities?

I was watching and reading some of Steven Levitt's Freakonomics stuff and this occured to me: Crime is a supply and demand industry - So will black-market Kindles (and other widely available ebook-readers!) be in higher demand in areas of high literacy and lower demand in areas of lower literacy?

Will low literacy rates correspond with low income areas? Will there be a perfect storm situation in economic terms where communities are poor enough to be potentially willing customers of stolen e-book readers and rich enough to have a high enough level of literacy to use them?

And on a related note, do the theft rates of other electronic products (smartphones, MP4 players, camcorders) correlate in any way with different levels of creative endeavour in particular artforms within communities?

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    May 31 2012: Hey Adam, I agree totally with what you've said to what I've outlined, but unfortunately I think I've given you a wrong steer as I didn't frame my question precisely enough (I'm gonna fix that now). I wasn't thinking about large scale thefts but instead I was referring to street-crimes (muggings) and house burglaries.

    And as the perpetrators of muggings and burglaries usually steal and sell within their own areas and communities I was thinking that it might be able a plausible indicator.
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      May 31 2012: you know that is very interesting. I think that would be a decent indicator to literacy rates in poor areas. Do you think that stolen kindles could actually raise the literacy rate in these areas just by being stolen and used?
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        May 31 2012: My initial thought is no, as the number of stolen Kindles would only reflect the literate poor people who buy them.

        But, on the other hand, perhaps as more e-readers turn up in poor areas (through whatever route) reading would see some sort of upsurge as visible new tech is always 'cool' if possessed by a peer group.

        What do you think?
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          Jun 1 2012: I think your right. If a group shifted the social dynamic because of e-readers it would in turn make reading "cool". If the peer group shifted conversation away from television/games/drama to books it would increase the literacy rate dramatically. It would be very interesting to conduct a study on this to see if it would be effective.
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    May 31 2012: Ha! I love your thought on this. I don't think theft will relate to the area in which they are stolen because one of the cardinal rules of theft is "don't get caught". Stolen shipments may be sent across country or even overseas to participating retailers.

    Great thought though, I like where your coming from. But why wouldn't books be stolen?
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      May 31 2012: Oh, I forgot to answer your books question. I was thinking that e-readers fall into the same category as ipods, laptops etc - electronic tech things that thieves steal because they can be sold easily and quickly for a decent amount (to their minds) of money. I don't think books can be sold by them in the same way.

      Btw, have a look at my graphic interface idea and tell me what you think.
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    Jun 3 2012: No. That would only indicate that there is a market for them. To prove your theory there would have to be a coralation of straight line sales and a significat increase in a specific zip code / area buying from vendors and/or library usage in a specific neighborhood. Libraries and vendors could tell if a signifant number of "new" customers enter the system or new accounts are established.

    The likely hood of Ipods, MP4s etc showing up in, as you say, areas of lower iteracy are much greater.

    All the best. Bob