Friday, October 05, 2007

Turning a Negative into a Positive

The selling of review copies has long been a practiced the world over. A good friend of ours, Fred Bass, the owner of that iconic bookstore The Strand in New York, has a whole basement full of them. Some even still have the letters from the publisher in them, or a stamp that says not for resell. Let’s be honest, these are unsolicited and the equivalent to some of junk mail.

So we read again of the beating of chests and fury, this time by the PMA in the US, at sites such as Abebooks, who are said to be carrying some 200,000 galleys and advanced reading copies for sale.

Digitisation offers an easy solution to this issue, but it is dependant on acceptance of digital files and also digital files being available. Will these be DRM protected and or water marketed? Will they be track able? Will they offer a two way dialogue, or just be scattered like corn seeds as is the practice today? Will the reviewers want to be auditable? Will the reviewer still want a physical copy? Many question and we are aware that these are now been discussed and pursued by some.

Given that some academic publishers accept that the volume of review, inspection, and advance reading copies could be 10% of a print run, it’s is also a question of reducing waste.