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Calling Out Risk-Averse Publishers

Bloomsbury Academic is testing the theory that increased awareness from free distribution boosts book sales. The recently-launched imprint is releasing all of its titles online under a Creative Commons license while also selling print-on-demand editions. Discussing the rationale with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bloomsbury’s Frances Pinter cites the unnecessary chasm between envelope-pushers and conservative publishers:

“I’m tired of the divide between open-access people who have nothing but disdain for publishers, and publishers who don’t really know how to take a few risks and try some new models,” she said. She would like Bloomsbury Academic to demonstrate that publishers can add editorial value to scholarship without having to choose between locking it down or giving it all away.

(Via Jose Alonso Furtado’s Twitter stream)

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  • bowerbird

    oh gee, how forward-looking!

    (congratulations if you picked up
    that i was being sarcastic there.)

    some day — and that day is _not_ very far away –
    someone will be smart enough to start _charging_
    publishers to give electronic versions of their books
    to the public, in order to stimulate hard-copy sales.

    after all, with so many publishers putting their books
    online for free, how do you break through the clutter?

    so yes, publishers will soon _pay_ ordinary people to
    read their books in electronic form, because that will
    cause (some of) those people to buy the paper version.

    (you’ll probably have to test people, to make sure that
    they did read at least the first few chapters, before you
    fork over any check. but yes, you _will_ fork one over.)

    and some publishers might even be smart enough to
    realize they can maximize hard-copy sales that way.
    there will be no more cost-efficient way to do that…
    (it’ll make the buying of advertisements look stupid.)

    of course, long-term, publishers might also find that
    getting people familiar with e-books will _cannibalize_
    their business of pushing paper. but it will be too late.

    of course, the paper-book business will die _anyway_
    — if you can’t make money by doing it, corporations
    automatically stop doing it, it’s a funny thing, that is –
    so the more-conservative publishers will not end up any
    more successful than those who cannibalize themselves.
    (in fact, their fall off the cliff will be even more dramatic.)

    you heard it here first: “we’ll pay you to read our book.”

    -bowerbird