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Most of us learned about the significance of April 23rd back in high school (the Bard's birthday), but now there's another reason to celebrate. April 23, 2012 is the first US World Book Night, when publishers will donate and volunteers will distribute free books to anyone who wants them. Want to be a part of it? Sign up as a volunteer on their site before February 1.
World Book Night premiers this year in the US. Bookstores & libraries will be distribution points. Did you sign up? What book do you want to distribute? I did (for Poisonwood Bible). Here are the book options, thirty in all.
Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research
How could we make this academic research more accessible to the public? The challenge is finding a way to get research on the web by bypassing the publisher/JSTOR nexus. If academic journals skipped that needless step of providing a print version of their journals, they could stop this cycle. They could simply upload the papers to a website and take the publishers out of the process.
Why e-books will be much bigger than you can imagine
The e-book business will grow faster than people think. Innovations from Amazon and Apple have increased the velocity at which we consume e-books, but there are two emergent behaviors that will increase the rate of overall consumption.
Cracking Open the Scientific Process
For centuries, this is how science has operated — through research done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. But to many scientists, the longevity of that process is nothing to celebrate.
The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist, they say. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only “if you’re stuck with 17th-century technology.”
Academic publishers have become the enemies of science
The US Research Works Act would allow publishers to line their pockets by locking publicly funded research behind paywalls. The free dissemination of lifesaving medical research around the world would be prevented under the Research Works Act. This is the moment academic publishers gave up all pretence of being on the side of scientists. Their rhetoric has traditionally been of partnering with scientists, but the truth is that for some time now scientific publishers have been anti-science and anti-publication. The Research Works Act, introduced in the US Congress on 16 December, amounts to a declaration of war by the publishers.
1. Let me subscribe to my favorite authors.
2. Keep books updated for one price.
3. Buy a print copy, get an electronic copy, too.
4. Give more of my money to authors.
5. Indie bookstores should sell e-books.
If Libraries Didn't Exist, Would Publishers Be Trying To Kill Book Lending?
A familiar pattern emerges. Small, innovative publishers who are ready to adapt, reap the benefits by meeting the growing demand for ebooks at local libraries – and doubtless picking up knock-on sales as a result. Meanwhile, big, sclerotic publishers resist trying out new business models, preferring to make the use of digital formats for lending as "inconvenient" as possible – in the forlorn hope that readers will just give up and buy something. We all know how that story ends.
Book industry consultant Mike Shatzkin has a series of questions for the book industry for the next year. The questions are for these groups:
The biggest publishers
Publishers bigger than small, but not Big Six
Barnes & Noble
Illustrated book publishers
If you imagine the publisher’s business as one that divides most of the consumer’s dollar between two core stakeholders in the supply chain — the retailer and the author — you’d have a pretty accurate picture. The publishers, at least theoretically, decide what the retailer’s “working margin” will be with their discounts and agency agreements. And they decide what the author’s share of the proceeds will be by the advances and royalty rates they offer and agree on through their contracts.
These are the essential, and basically non-substitutable, trading partners for a publisher. They can choose a different printer or publicity firm without changing the character of their business or their economics. But the author relationships are existential and defining and the intermediaries who reach the public and enable the consumer transaction are indispensible.
Save Scholarly Ideas, Not the Publishing Industry:
Ironically, of course, it’s the government who is trying to push back against the scholarly publishing’s stranglehold on scholarly knowledge. The Science and Technology Policy Office has a current Request for Information” out (due January 2!) about providing public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications that result from federally-funded research. They get the hypocrisy of funding research so that corporations can lock it down. Why don’t most scholars? This is, of course, only one part of the puzzle because only a small fraction of what we produce as scholars is funded by federal agencies.
But what I want to know is this:
1.What are *you* doing to resist the corporate stranglehold over scholarly knowledge in order to make your knowledge broadly accessible?
2.What are the five things that you think that other scholars should do to help challenge the status quo?