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The Pareto Principle and the True Cunning of HarperCollins
So here's the cunning. By focusing on popularity-driven revenue mechanisms, HarperCollins is pushing money towards the smash hits and away from the long tail. Libraries may be adversely affected, but they're collateral damage. It's the long tail publishers that HarperCollins is trying to destroy.
Project MUSE has been the go-to source for scholarly ejournals in academic libraries for years, and now that go-to source will soon include ebooks from the University Press e-book Consortium. The two recently announced the merger, which will launch on January 1, 2012.
The sometimes uneasy relationship between librarians and book publishers reached a new level of tension after HarperCollins—citing the explosive growth of e-book sales—announced a new e-book lending policy beginning March 7 that will limit the length of its library licenses to a maximum of 26 loans per e-title. The revised policy has outraged librarians, who say the new policy will strain budgets and is shortsighted, ignoring the role of libraries in encouraging literacy and building an e-book market for publishers. The issue has become so emotional that some librarians have organized a boycott of HarperCollins new books over the issue.
Beginning Tuesday, Random House will join other major book publishers in selling its e-books using the so-called agency model, setting its own prices for e-books while the retailer takes a commission.
Five of the six largest publishers switched to the agency model last spring after Apple introduced its iPad.
“The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms,” Random House, publisher of Stieg Larsson, George W. Bush and John Grisham, said in a statement on Monday. “We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships.”
Blog post by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:
But it has seemed clear to me for a long time that ebooks offered compelling advantages over print — portability, ease of purchase, and a lower cost basis that must inexorably lead to lower prices — that would increasingly sway many of the inevitably growing number of people who had a readable handheld screen in reach most of the time. And my long experience dealing with bookstore economics made it clear to me that the consequent sales subtraction from brick-and-mortar stores would lead to closures, which would lead to longer travel times for customers to get to the stores, which in turn would drive more people to purchase print or digital books online. And that would lead to more closures. This is a virtuous circle if you’re in the ebook business or sell print online. Or if you want to see Americans consume less gasoline.
It is a vicious cycle — a death spiral — if you’re a bookstore. - Full article
From the Scholarly Kitchen Blog
With the recent surge in library e-book sales, serials aggregators are racing to add e-books to their platforms. ProQuest’s recent acquisition of ebrary and JSTOR’s expansion into current journals and e-books signal a shift from standalone e-book and e-journal aggregator platforms to mixed content gateways, with e-books and e-journals living cheek by jowl in the same aggregation..... Read more.
The (O'Reilly)Tools of Change in Publishing Conference is happening right now in New York; the event is sold out, but there are a lot of streaming events and sessions that you can take in on line, for example, the Future of e-books Technology and Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues in the Digital Era. Check them out here.
Information technology and economic change: The impact of the printing press
Historians argue that the printing press was among the most revolutionary inventions in human history, responsible for a diffusion of knowledge and ideas, “dwarfing in scale anything which had occurred since the invention of writing” (Roberts 1996, p. 220). Yet economists have struggled to find any evidence of this information technology revolution in measures of aggregate productivity or per capita income (Clark 2001, Mokyr 2005). The historical data thus present us with a puzzle analogous to the famous Solow productivity paradox – that, until the mid-1990s, the data on macroeconomic productivity showed no effect of innovations in computer-based information technology.
Don't miss Figure 1. The diffusion of the printing press
The SOAP (Study of Open Access Publishing) project has run a large-scale survey of the attitudes of researchers on, and the experiences with, open access publishing. Around forty thousands answers were collected across disciplines and around the world, showing an overwhelming support for the idea of open access, while highlighting funding and (perceived) quality as the main barriers to publishing in open access journals. This article serves as an introduction to the survey and presents this and other highlights from a preliminary analysis of the survey responses. To allow a maximal re-use of the information collected by this survey, the data are hereby released under a CC0 waiver, so to allow libraries, publishers, funding agencies and academics to further analyse risks and opportunities, drivers and barriers, in the transition to open access publishing.
Do libraries help or hurt publishing?
With libraries around the world in such financial jeopardy, a couple of questions come to mind:
•What purpose (if any) has a library served for you?
•If libraries ceased to exist, what would the ramifications be?
•Do libraries help or hurt publishing?