on demand textbook publishing [was Re: [FoRK] Sony's 2nd gen ebook reader site]

Luis Villa luis.villa
Sun Jan 8 14:54:24 PST 2006

On 1/6/06, Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> On 1/6/06, Luis Villa <luis.villa at gmail.com> wrote:
> ...
> > Just as a data point, when I saw R. Preston McAfee had published his
> > intro to econ textbook (352 pages) under a CC license I suggested he
> > publish it at lulu.com. It was available the next day for $11.60 plus
> > shipping, which he said was less than he'd been paying to get it
> > printed at the local copy shop. So the economics of book publishing
> > (particularly low print run textbooks) are soon going to be upended
> > anyway, I think.
> See, that's the point -- you can print, on demand, a full textbook for
> $11.60 including the printer's profit.  That's an approximation of the
> *maximum* that a publisher can "save" by moving a book from paper to
> bits.

My point was that you don't need a publisher anymore. They are
dinosaurs (*particularly* academic publishers even more than the
rest); the savings or non-savings e-books bring them is irrelevant.

> Just as Linux is "considered" to be the big threat to Windows,
> projects like MIT"s OCW will be viewed as threats to traditional
> textbook publishing.  And the more desperate publishers become to
> protect their turf. the more professors will choose OCW-like texts
> instead of proprietary ones....

Yup. As I've said before, the best thing that could happen for open
content of all sorts is for the traditional content creation industry
to get *exactly* what it wants. If they got "perfect" DRM today with
all the restrictions they want, people would start using open content
first thing tomorrow morning.


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