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Endangered Books

News Shorts

By Sophie M. Sparrow

Harvard officials, area bookstore managers, and publishers said yesterday they are pessimistic about the long term effects of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruling that forces publishers to pay higher taxes on unsold books.

The ruling, which the IRS instituted last February, prevents publishers from devaluing their inventory for tax purposes.

David R. Godine, president of David Godine Publishers, said yesterday the decision will make it increasingly difficult to get scholarly books published since publishers will not be able to afford the risk of publishing books that have a limited demand.

"It is a very bad decision in terms of academia," Brian P. Murphy, associate director for operations at Harvard University Press, said, adding that many publishers are destroying their books or selling them to discount outlets. University Press is not affected by the ruling because of its non-profit status.

The ruling may actually deprive the IRS of tax money, by forcing publishers to destroy their major asset--their inventory, Godine said.

The only area of the book industry that is optimistic about the ruling are the managers of discount outlets. "It's certain that stores will get great deals," David R. LePere, manager of Wordsworth Books, said.

Adena Siegel, assistant merchandise manager for Harvard Bookstores, said she expected the selection of discount books to improve within the next few weeks.

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