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Old 08-14-2008, 05:53 AM   #48
Gianfranco
computer scientist
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Being a publisher at a relatively small academic publishing house, I follow this discussion with great interest. Please let me share my view with you:
Wonderful!

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> Loss of income
The real question is, will publishers still be able to add enough value to a publication in the future? Many academic authors are perfectly able to create a book or an article themselves. They can even hire proofreaders or editors through the internet. Except for the recognized name of the publisher, its logo, marketing services and quality control, what reasons would there be for an author to turn to a traditional publisher, even if they offer electronic publishing as well? Publishers will be facing loss of income anyway, even if they do offer electronic publishing facilities.
I believe that the academic authors will continue to write their books in LaTeX, and thus hiring someone to do the conversion to other formats in a smooth way. You don't want to sit with and fight with file format convertion problems once your book is done. I am sure that most of us don't regard PDF as a valid eBook format, it's not reflowable.

Quote:
> Loss of income
The real question is, will publishers still be able to add enough value to a publication in the future? Many academic authors are perfectly able to create a book or an article themselves. They can even hire proofreaders or editors through the internet. Except for the recognized name of the publisher, its logo, marketing services and quality control, what reasons would there be for an author to turn to a traditional publisher, even if they offer electronic publishing as well? Publishers will be facing loss of income anyway, even if they do offer electronic publishing facilities.
Yes, the old market will have to adapt or perish. As I said earlier, the publishers could handle the transition to other formats. But I agree, this is a big paradigm shift.
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> Piracy
True. I think that book scanning will become a nightmare for publishers and book retailers. You can already see the rise of torrents sites offering pdf files of textbooks for example. With a new generation of ebook hardware coming up that offer A4 sized displays, some people might be very tempted to download scanned documents and read them on this kind of ereaders.
Piracy will always be a problem. Really; I don't think it will ever be possible to produce secure material.

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> Ebooks is cheaper to produce
Not completely true. Even without the costs for printing, you still have costs for editing, proofreading, designing, marketing et cetera. Most of the time, the smaller part of the costs for realizing a new publication are printing costs. An additional problem is that there is not one ebook standard (which leads to costly conversion problems) and that you have to upload one ebook to many channels, conforming to different standards, and keeping track of ebook sales through many channels, not even mentioning the amount of work to calculate the royalties for the author when serving many different channels.
Let me add the other side of the coin, what about environmental costs? In my humble opinion, it's priceless to have a fully functioning environment. The amount of tree mass used to produce all books/papers in the whole world is astounding. One often nails the debate of sustainability onto vehicles (which IS a problem), but fails to forget that all parts of the consumption chain are responsible. Just think of all the millions of books printed, and then just discarded. Given enough time, I think the technology will ease the monetary costs of producing eBooks.
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> Ebooks are also easier to distribute all over the world.
True, especially looking at Amazon's Kindle and the iPhone 3G, with 'always on' internet connections. It's really fantastic. But keep in mind, that the different screen sizes do offer problems (see my pdf statement below).
Is this not really a format problem? Given a reflowable format, there is no problem.

I really hope that you will try to convince other publishers as well as authors to release more academic titles. By the way; do you happen to have some kind of contact with Springer Link?

Last edited by Gianfranco; 08-14-2008 at 06:00 AM. Reason: An error
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