Why do people buy books instead of borrowing them from a library?

Indeed from the standpoint of publishers worried about sales lost to copy-sharing, the public library is about the most fiendish scheme ever devised by man. The fact that the publishing industry somehow manages to survive in the face of libraries gives me hope that it will also survive relatively less pernicious developments. I used to own stock in a bookstore chain, and it was not uncommon for the shareholders in bookstore chains to fret about the freeloaders who read books in the store and don't buy anything. But I always calmed myself with the thought that this wasn’t as great an evil as increased funding for the local library.

Besides the fact that the library will stock a limited number of copies of any given book, another significant factor is that many book purchases are intended as gifts. I would guess one out of three books bought at the retail level is meant as a gift, judging by the Q4 seasonality of bookstore sales.