18.520 author's rights

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 07:06:16 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 520.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 07:03:46 +0000
         From: Hugh Cayless <hcayless_at_email.unc.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.517 author's rights

There are a number of examples I can think of where authors offer free
electronic versions of their work as well as publishing through traditional
print channels. The first one I remember seeing was Bruce Eckel's Thinking
in Java book, which is published by Prentice-Hall, but is also available
for download free (http://www.mindview.net/Books/TIJ/). Larry Lessig and
Cory Doctorow are other examples I've seen. The general consensus by these
authors seems to be that the free downloads actually boost sales of the
printed versions. Given that the tools for reading electronic books still
don't have as good a form-factor as printed books, I imagine this will be
true for some time yet. Not to mention that books indexed by the search
engines are more likely to be found by potential readers.

Full disclosure: I've worked for Lulu for about six months now. We do have
(and are gradually acquiring more) academic books. We're different from
some of the POD and self-publishing operations out there in that we don't
take any payment up front for publishing, have no minimum required number
to buy, and don't have any interest in taking rights away from authors. We
offer high-quality printing at a reasonable price while giving the author
complete control over the process. We also offer simultaneous electronic
versions, Creative Commons or other licensing, etc.

This option isn't for everyone, obviously. But I can envision a few
scenarios in which academic publishing in this style can be
successful. This first is the model the Stoa is trying, where an
organization is providing peer review and editorial assistance and is using
us as the printing/fulfillment solution. Another model is one where the
author doesn't particularly care about getting credit from the
establishment and just wants to make (e.g.) a textbook available to their
students and anyone else who's interested at a reasonable price. For
example, one of our authors publishes a Cisco networking manual
(http://www.lulu.com/content/72105). Both volumes bound together can be
had for $25.00. You're not going to be able to do that kind of thing for
that price through a traditional publisher. A third model might be an
organization acquiring the rights to out of print works and republishing
them through us.

Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement, but I think it's relevant to
the discussion and besides, I'm on the programming side of the operation,
so I'm pretty terrible at marketing anyway. Solutions like Lulu's will
work well in circumstances where a traditional publisher wouldn't be
willing to support the book sufficiently or where the author wants to
retain full control of the book.


   * Hugh A. Cayless, Ph.D.
   * Software Engineer, Lulu.com

On Jan 23, 2005, at 4:51 AM, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard
McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>) wrote:

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 517.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 09:43:51 +0000
> From: "Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett" <bkg_at_nyu.edu>
> >
> >From Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett:
>I do not know their reasoning, but would surmise that they want to
>protect an author's efforts to publish in book form, publish in
>paperback, and keep books in print. This is becoming much more of an
>issue as publishers of academic books opt to print fewer copies (as few
>as 350 is not uncommon), hardcover only, and at a high price. This
>limits the printed book to library sales. It may therefore be preferable
>to protect the print edition and for the publisher to invest more in its
>success, which would be undermined by a print-on-demand option, at least
>during the first few years of a book's life. An electronic edition is
>another animal.
>In the case you describe the print-on-demand option seems like a good
>idea, given the specialized nature of the publication and how you
>envision it being accessed.
>Although the Authors Guild is thinking more of the trade market than
>academic books, academics need to take heed.
>Does anyone have any experience with a publication that appears in one
>or more of these forms--physical book, electronic book, print-on-demand
>book? What are the economic and other implications for authors?
>Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Received on Mon Jan 24 2005 - 02:14:16 EST

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