Magazine shoplifting goes high-tech

Brief by Central Staff

Publishing – August 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

As magazine publishers, we suppose we should be concerned about a new form of theft: “digital shoplifting.” Currently, it’s a concern in Japan, where magazine publishers have launched a publicity campaign against it.

How does it work? You’ve seen those ads for cellular telephones that can take and transmit pictures. People use them to photograph magazine pages, rather than buy the magazines.

“Digital shoplifting is becoming a big problem as camera-equipped mobile handsets are spread fast and their quality is improving greatly,” said Kenji Takahashi of the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association.

He didn’t say whether the publishers plan to respond by wrapping their magazines in plastic (thereby depriving curious shoppers of the joys of examining the product), or by asking news stands to pat down customers for cell-phones before allowing them to browse.

We haven’t heard of it in this country, but we’d probably feel somewhat flattered if somebody went to that much trouble for our magazine.