scio11: ebooks and the science community

Jan 16 2011 Published by under Conferences, publishing

Carl Zimmer, Tom Levenson, David Dobbs, John Dupuis

cz: ebooks have been discussed for a long time (like 25 years) – but we’ve been able to ignore them. There was a push in the net bubble, but now they’re back. Compare the growth graph to the more typical “sad gentle decline.” In the early days there was a lot of marketing about replacing a whole shelf of encyclopedia volumes with a cd-rom.

One model is to self-publish on Amazon.

cz also covers formats – like print or like an app. The example app has a lot of bells and whistles and moving things – pretty distracting.

tl: original Gutenberg. only about 10k books in Europe prior to the printing press, by the end of this period there were 10M. The rise of authors and the invention of copyright (UK), 1710.

dd: contracts and stuff

jd: how long did it take him to spend $10k on ebooks – one year – until Safari was available. He spends about 100k/year on ebooks, mostly in science and engineering. Publishers and authors don’t like this. They don’t like libraries because we make it so our patrons don’t have to buy their books. What is the ebook business model? Will it go like the music industry? Probably. People will still pay for books/content, but it will be more of an itunes model. He talks to publishers a lot and he tells them that the libraries are the last people standing who are willing to pay real money for high quality content. For these new content types – like apps. How can we share them? How long will they last? He’s interested in DRM – locking down content so people can’t do what they want with it. “I’m happy to pay. Think of libraries as the last people who are happy to pay.”

From the audience:

“we can control this market” (um, no. heh.) “work with a good designer but don’t let them drive the bus” (makes sense).

all of the different formats coming out at the same time, any apps should integrate with the other formats (in her opinion).

jd: the app is so seductive from the publishers point of view because they can monetize every reading transaction (he [and I] hates that). But think of the life of the app. Think of all of the platforms.

the textbook market has the expertise that would be needed for creating these high production apps.

what do editors do in this model? (they same thing they did in other times)

there’s the question about updating the app if there’s a correction or update. also do you lose your bookmarks, etc.

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