Category Archives: Publishing

Comments on “Is the Internet the Publishing Industry’s Best Friend?”

There is a lively discussion around the article by one of the authors of Freakonomics on whether the internet is good or bad to the publishing industry.

My take on it is that the internet is bad for publishing industry as it was a year ago. But having to respond to the internet, has actually spurred some long desired growth and innovation in the industry.

Specifically, to respond to the greatly increased used books market, some publishers now provide interactive internet content that is free with a new book, but can be purchased separately for a used copy. This is a nice way to get some money back through additional services, rather than through RIAAA’s style DRM or lawsuits.

A good example of the publishers’ response is Quia books, which provides online interactive component to go with published books. This works especially well for language exercise books and for science books.

At the other end, we have Print-on-Demand technology, which restructures publishing pipeline and allows small publishers and individuals to try innovative models and strange ideas without having to outlay tens of thousands of dollars. This allows more mainstream industry to observe what works and adapt it into its own workflow.

And there are many things in between, such as O’Reilly’s SafariU program that allows professors to easily combine their own material with extracts from multiple books in one prefessionally-printed package. Or a SourceBeat which gives you a subscription to a book as it is being written and updated.

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Strangest book layout yet: BedBooks

I like reading books. But the inventor of BedBooks must like reading them at least couple of degrees more. So, he sells books printed sideways. It has to be seen to be believed. (via LibrarianInBlack)
In fact, if he were not selling them, this method would be a perfect candidate for the halls of ChinDogu.

On a serious note, it is interesting to note that the business like this must only be possible due to 2 factors: Copyright expiration (currently under threat) and Print-on-Demand technology.


Reading classics with “Squashed Philosophers”

I have always wanted to read through the classics of the Western literature. But the life is too short and too busy to try slogging through the volumnous writings. Now, the “Squashed Philosophers” website (via StingyScholar) offers condenced versions of materials where only the important points are kept – in the original language – and the long rambles are excised.

And for those who don’t like reading from the screen, they have a printed version. I suspect this is done with the Print-on-Demand technology, also a good match for a book with uncertain sell-through expectations.
Great idea and it is certainly on my bookmarks now.