Open question: Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

questionmarkI might not know who Nancy Drew is if it weren't for libraries. Granted, I ended up buying most of the series — or rather, my parents did — but the library was the discovery zone. It still works like that for me today; I now own three Richard Russo books because of the library.

Libraries have been a part of most of our lives in one way or another, yet they are in a constant struggle for funding. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, is proposing a budget that would pull back all state funding for libraries. Some libraries, such as the Butler Public Library in Indiana, are thinking out of the box to raise funding (see the banner at the top of their site). And the struggle isn’t only in the United States.

With libraries around the world in such financial jeopardy, a couple of questions come to mind:

  • What purpose (if any) has a library served for you?
  • If libraries ceased to exist, what would the ramifications be?
  • Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

Please share your thoughts in the comments area. To continue the discussion, check out the TOC panel Solving the Digital Loan Problem: Can Library Lending of eBooks be a Win-win for Publishers AND Libraries? February 16 at TOC 2011.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore “publishing without boundaries” through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% off registration with the code TOC11RAD

What to expect in EPUB3

Just as publishers are wrapping their heads — and workflows — around the current version of EPUB, a new release is scheduled for May. The EPUB3 draft is set to publish for comment later this month, giving publishers and developers their first blush at what the release will mean to them.

In the following interview, Bob Kasher, business development manager for integrated solutions at Book Masters and a member of the International Digital Publishing Forum EPUB Working Group, highlights some of the changes the new version will bring to the publishing industry. Kasher is scheduled to speak in depth on EPUB3 at February’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York.


What are some of the major changes EPUB3 will bring to digital publishing?

Bob KasherBob Kasher: There are three key areas EPUB3 is focused around: language support, greater accessibility, and increased multimedia support. Language support will allow EPUB3 to save and search non-Roman scripts — such as Japanese, Chinese and Arabic — as font characters rather than JPEGs, as in current EPUB support. This will make a much broader range of literature available to current and future reading devices from base EPUB files. It will truly internationalize EPUB.

EPUB3 will also be better at integrating the current DAISY accessibility standards, to help make reading devices of greater usefulness to visually impaired readers.

EPUB3 will be much more adept at supporting multimedia capabilities for both HTML5-based devices and the coming generation of tablets supporting both Flash and HTML5. It is hoped that in doing so, EPUB3 will help develop an enhanced ebook standard that can be used across a variety of media and content.

Other developments include enhanced metadata support for discoverability, better facilitation support for touchscreen devices, and support for MathML, which we hope will open up greater opportunities for textbook publishers. EPUB3 will be a quantum leap forward in capabilities for future device support, but still backward compatible with current devices on the market.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore “publishing without boundaries” through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

Will EPUB3 bring any digital rights management changes?

Bob Kasher: DRM is still optional, and DRM formatting will still be flexible as far as being wrapped with EPUB. There will be no changes in that area.

How will EPUB3 change ereaders and apps?

Bob Kasher: That depends on where content creators take it. As EPUB3 will be backward compatible, it will be usable on current devices, so there won’t be any immediate need for change. However, as new devices open up greater opportunities for readers to access elements not readily available on devices like the Kindle or Kobo or Nook, it will propel accessibility to these attributes in the next generation of ereaders.

With an estimated 80+ new tablet products coming to market this year, I foresee an increasing consumer interest for app-like products that can be accessed through general distribution sites rather than as individual apps.

When will EPUB3 be released? Is the publishing world ready?

Bob Kasher: The draft is being readied for comment and release this month, and we hope to have the final version publicly proclaimed by Book Expo America in May. I think the world will be ready — there is already a lot of testing and development around the product. I fully expect publishers will embrace the re-write quickly and effectively, and we hope it will be one more element fueling the digital transformation of our industry.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Related:

One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy

[Reblogged from the THATCamp website. Please note that you don’t need to be a THATCamper to participate. We are soliciting submissions from everyone, worldwide. Join us by writing something in the next week, or if you’ve already written something you think deserves to be included, let us know!]

Tom Scheinfeldt and I have been brewing a proposal for an edited book entitled Hacking the Academy. Let’s write it together, starting at THATCamp this weekend. And let’s do it in one week.

Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly society?

As recently as the mid-2000s, questions like these would have been unthinkable. But today serious scholars are asking whether the institutions of the academy as they have existed for decades, even centuries, aren’t becoming obsolete. Every aspect of scholarly infrastructure is being questioned, and even more importantly, being <em>hacked</em>. Sympathetic scholars of traditionally disparate disciplines are cancelling their association memberships and building their own networks on Facebook and Twitter. Journals are being compiled automatically from self-published blog posts. Newly-minted Ph.D.’s are foregoing the tenure track for alternative academic careers that blur the lines between research, teaching, and service. Graduate students are looking beyond the categories of the traditional C.V. and building expansive professional identities and popular followings through social media. Educational technologists are “punking” established technology vendors by rolling their own open source infrastructure.

“Hacking the Academy” will both explore and contribute to ongoing efforts to rebuild scholarly infrastructure for a new millenium. Contributors can write on these topics, which will form chapters:

  • Lectures and classrooms
  • Scholarly societies
  • Conferences and meetings
  • Journals
  • Books and monographs
  • Tenure and academic employment
  • Scholarly Identity and the CV
  • Departments and disciplines
  • Educational technology
  • Libraries

In keeping with the spirit of hacking, the book will itself be an exercise in reimagining the edited volume. Any blog post, video response, or other media created for the volume and tweeted (or tagged) with the hashtag #hackacad will be aggregated at hackingtheacademy.org. The best pieces will go into the published volume (we are currently in talks with a publisher to do an open access version of this final volume). The volume will also include responses such as blog comments and tweets to individual pieces. If you’ve already written something that you would like included, that’s fine too, just be sure to tweet or tag it (or email us the link to where it’s posted).

You have until midnight on May 28, 2010. Ready, set, go!

UPDATE: [5/23/10] 48 hours in, we have 65 contributions to the book. There’s a running list of contributions.

Symposium on TEI and Scholarly Publishing | Digital Humanities Observatory

This symposium, to be held in conjunction with a meeting of the TEI Council, will explore such questions through a series of presentations outlining the current state of the art in institutional publishing operations such as those of universities in the UK, France, US, and Australia, from the point of view of private sector publishers (among which the NLM DTDs are increasingly adopted), and from international initiatives where interoperability has been identified as a major factor (e.g., PEER, which includes European research institutions, repositories, and STM publishers). The objective is to identify current difficulties in making publication systems interoperable and identify priority actions for the TEI to intervene in this arena.

TEI-EJ – TEIWiki

TEI-Extramural Journal (TEI-EJ) is a born digital, peer reviewed publication of the TEI and the TEI Education Special Interest Group. The project was initiated during spring 2009, when the Education SIG co-conveners (S. Schlitz and J. Nyhan) proposed developing an online publication to facilitate the aims of the TEI Education SIG and to educate members of the international digital humanities community, both within and beyond the TEI, about the TEI.

TEI-EJ project objectives are both experimental and ‘extramural’. The project seeks to define a new genre in academic publishing, where communicative modes are bidirectional rather than exclusively unidirectional, articles are media-driven as well as text-driven, and where the aims of publication extend beyond print journal mimesis to include education and community building.

In addition to peer reviewed articles, essays, interviews and reviews in text (underlyingly TEI-XML) and media (e.g. video, podcast wrapped in TEI-XML) formats, …

Academic Evolution

Continuing my series on how scholarly communications must transform, I will argue here that scholarship is about to see "webometrics" or "cybermetrics" supplant traditional bibliometrics for gauging the impact of scholarship. But this is just the beginning. Cybermetrics applied to scholarship will revitalize traditional academic publishing and pave the way for new uses and genres of intellectual work. As scholars and their institutions begin to use cybermetrics they can enrich scholarly productivity and maximize the influence of their intellectual output.