The death and re-birth of books

The contemporary moment wherein the book on dead trees is (probably) dead and is being reborn on the net (understandable given all the good karma it did that it gets such an exalted reirth):

The U Mich announcement, as well as the e-Duke announcement represent the first steps it experimenting with alternate systems of revenue capture that are trying to come to grips with the fact that the Internet allows for 1) massively larger audiences, but only if 2) you can figure out how to market and promote your product. The books are not necessarily open access, but at this point, it’s too early to expect a radical shift; and probably a good sign that presses are willing to experiment at all, given the financial situation.

The concerns it raises are the same as always: will books in this new regime get the same editorial and peer-review attention they got in the old one. I suspect the answer is yes, because that’s what university presses do best, but part of the challenge is for these presses to convince academic audiences that this is true; that just because a new monograph is available for free online, and for a reduce price as a print-on-demand book, this does not reflect anything about its quality, does not mean it has been remaindered, and does not mean that the author paid to have it published. The difficulty of making scholars realize this should not be underestimated—as I continually discover, the majority of them are living not just in the 20th century, but in the 19th… sigh. Kudos to U Mich for joining us in the contemporary moment.

Hope those at the recently established IISc Press are listening and will join the movement at this momentous moment!

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