From a recent article: “Say goodbye to the go-go years of fast-paced ebook growth — at least for now. Ebook growth, once in the triple and double digits, with no signs of abating, has slowed to a crawl in 2013,” writes Jeremy Greenfield in the trade publication dbw/Digital Book World. Nonetheless, Greenfield added, ebooks, while not currently hot commodities, are still warm; and according to the same article–based on numbers from the Association of American Publishers–“now account for a larger percentage of overall publisher revenues than they ever have.” Ebooks now account for about 27% of adult trade sales. The same phenomenon has also recently been noted by industry standard, PW/Publishers Weekly.
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Earlier this week, I attended webinar, called “Open Access in the Humanities” led by Rupert Gatti. Dr. Gatti is a Fellow in Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge and Co-Founder and Director of Open Book Publishers. The presentation outlined the landscape and the challenges of Open Access in the humanities.
One point that resonated with me, given the centrality of monographs to the humanities, was a statistic that showed the relative dearth of new open access academic books in relation to new journal titles. Clearly there are combinations of reasons preventing a more robust move to open access in the humanities, both economic (the problem of financial capital: books (e or print) are more labor intensive) and sociocultural (the problem of cultural capital: in that humanities books are awarded status and prestige through publishing houses). Gatti’s presentation took on these challenges by seeking a sustainable ways to address these conditions, showing some exciting options moving forward.
The bulk of his presentation was spent on Open Books Publishers, a new publishing project for peer-reviewed open access monographs, which he directs. (See Open Books Publishers:
http://www.openbookpublishers.com/section/25/1/faqs ) This outfit has only published a few books to date, but their economic model, which includes a mixture of revenue from big name supporters, hard-copy and alternative format sales, and voluntary author-generated publication grant funding makes them an interesting new player in field.
Gatti also outlined other important initiatives. One of these was Knowledge Unlatched, (See: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/ ) a project which seeks long-term cost savings for institutions by sharing the costs of making HSS monographs available on a Creative Commons license. UC Libraries is part in one of their pilot projects. Another was Unglue It, ( https://unglue.it/about/) a project designed to help individuals and institutions join together to liberate specific ebooks “crowd-funding ” payments to authors and publishers so they they will relicense their works under Creative Commons licenses.”
It is exciting to see these different economic models being tried. While I can’t say they will all achieve the sustainability they desire, it is clear that their aim is to create cooperatives to address real costs.
This webinar was sponsored by UKSG, a group formally that United Kingdom Serials Group. UKSG has evolved into a network that encourages “the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication…spanning the wide range of interests and activities across the scholarly information community of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors. More about their activities can be found here: http://www.uksg.org/
From the article: “The printed book risks going the way of the cuneiform tablet, papyrus scroll or vellum parchment, say the doomsayers….but despite the huge growth in e-books in the past few years, the traditional publishing houses are not yet predicting the end of printed book.
In fact, figures for 2012 show that while e-book sales are still on the rise, the rate of decline in print sales has actually slowed.”
Pew study finds that “librarians and library websites” are the two places contemporary readers are the least likely to seek reading recommendations. Story, data, graphics, etc., at:
The 2012 Eugene Lunn Memorial Lecture will be given by Professor Robert Darnton on Wednesday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall, Buehler Alumni Center. (Reception to follow.) He will speak on “Books, Digits, and Dollars: A Design for the Future.” The lecture is free and open to the public.
Robert Darnton is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library. A winner of the MacArthur Prize and numerous other awards, he has written notable works, including: The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future ; The Great Cat-Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History ; The Literary Underground of the Old Regime ; Poetry and Police: Communications Networks in Eighteenth Century Paris ; The Business of Enlightenment .
Eugene Lunn was, prior to his untimely death in 1990, a member of the Davis Department of History. In his twenty years here, he distinguished himself as a scholar in the field of modern European intellectual history. He was a passionate and productive scholar, but no less an engaged and inspired teacher. In his memory, a fund was assembled to support an annual memorial lecture. Its purpose is to honor the profession of teaching and to present to a broad and varied campus audience an exemplary discussion of issues of high significance in contemporary intellectual life.
This is the twentieth Lunn lecture, following upon those of such well-known scholars as Carl Schorske, Hayden White, Martin Jay, Saul Friedlander, Laura Engelstein, Lawrence Levine, Lynn Hunt, Thomas Bender, Bonnie Smith, Wendy Doniger, Cemal Kafadar, William Cronon, Fred Wakeman, Jan Goldstein, Suzanne Marchand, Louis Menand, Thomas Laqueur, and Mark Mazower.
The lecture, thanks to the generosity of many people, has become an important annual event at Davis. We want to take this opportunity once again to thank all of you who have previously supported this undertaking. We are currently facing a severe funding shortage, however, so if you find it possible to make a new (or renewed) contribution to the lecture fund, however small, we will be very grateful indeed. You may write a check to the “UC Regents (Lunn Memorial Fund)” and send it to Monica Fischer in the Department of History.
The National Academies—National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council—are committed to distributing their reports to as wide an audience as possible. Since 1994 they have offered “Read for Free” options for almost all their titles. In addition, they have been offering free downloads of most of their titles to everyone and of all titles to readers in the developing world. They are now going one step further. Effective June 2nd, PDFs of reports that are currently for sale on the National Academies Press (NAP) Website and PDFs associated with future reports* will be offered free of charge to all Web visitors.
For more than 140 years, the NAS, NAE, IOM, and NRC have been advising the nation on issues of science, technology, and medicine. Like no other collection of organizations, the Academies enlist the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of society’s most pressing problems. The results of their work are authoritative and independent studies published by the National Academies Press.
NAP produces more than 200 books a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health, capturing the best-informed views on important issues.
They invite you to visit the NAP homepage and experience the new opportunities available to access their publications. There you can sign up for MyNAP, a new way for us to deliver all of our content for free to loyal subscribers like you and to reward you with exclusive offers and discounts on their printed books. This enhancement to our free downloads means that we can reach out even further to inform government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge.
*There are a small number of reports that never had PDF files and, therefore, those reports are not available for download. In addition, part of the series, “Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals” are not be available in PDF and future titles in this series will also not have PDFs associated with them.