New OA-related question (and status report)

Two semi-related brief topics:

The Question

I asked a similar question of Peter Suber and another person who shall remain nameless, and got a positive response from Suber, no response from the other. So I’ll broaden it a bit:

Do you think it would be worthwhile to have all the scholarly-access-related articles from Cites & Insights collected into a single document, in chronological order?

If I finish this process, the result would be a substantial book–right now (copyfitted but lacking indexing), it’s 511 6×9 pages containing 191,000 words in 34 essays.

The book would be available in (at least) two forms:

  • As a free PDF download (from Lulu), carrying a Creative Commons BY-NC license, with no DRM or other disabling issues.
  • As a (thick!) trade paperback, priced at $5 more than Lulu’s actual production cost, yielding $4 per copy to me (basically to provide a little payback for the indexing and putting the whole thing together).

Note the word free. While Lulu now charges $1.45 plus 20% of set price for PDF downloads, Lulu continues to waive that $1.45 if the set price is $0.

The book would not have updates or corrections (other than a few corrected typos). The index would probably be fairly minimal; there’s no way I’m going to spend the time to do proper indexing for 191,000 words, given that I suspect almost all “sales” will be of the PDF variety.

UPDATE, February 1, 2010: If this book appears at all, it will be without an index. I don’t know if it’s a Word2007 bug or just the complexity and sheer length of the book, but when I try to index using Word’s indexing tools, and do more than about 50 pages of the 519 (using “Mark All” as appropriate), the saved version of the file comes back as garbage–expanded to more than 1,200 pages thanks to very long, meaningless, unchangeable pagefooters. I can’t justify taking the time (I’d guess 60+ hours, minimum) to prepare an index manually–so, although I understand that it’s abhorrent to do an unindexed nonfiction book, that’s the only way this can happen.

NOTE: I am not asking for commitments–and in any case I’d have no way of knowing who downloads or buys the book. I’m only asking for expressions of support for the idea or, if you think it’s a terrible idea, expressions of non-support. Leave a comment or send me email (waltcrawford at gmail dot com). Say within the next week; the copyfitting’s done, and I’ll do indexing after writing the first essay for the March C&I, unless I decide to abandon it.

The Status Report

On January 1, I noted the first review of But Still They Blog and also noted that Lulu could now handle ePub, the apparent “universal standard” for ebooks. I looked for “indications from, say, three people that they would buy an ePub version” before going to the trouble of locating software to do the conversion, testing the conversion, and uploading an ePub version.

I received one response–from a colleague who’s already purchased the print version but offered to test the ePub version.

Based on that level of interest, it’s hard to generate any enthusiasm for going to the trouble of doing an ePub version of this possible new book–particularly since I’d probably give that one away.

So: Anybody out there who would be more interested in the OA-related book if it was available in ePub? Not asking for a commitment, just for legitimate interest.

After all, if a universal standard is met by universal ennui, there’s little point in adopting it.

3 Responses to “New OA-related question (and status report)”

  1. T Scott says:

    Regarding the OA book — I think collecting all of the articles and making the resulting book available on Lulu as you outline would be a very good and useful thing to do.

  2. Ivan Chew says:

    Hi Walt, I think if you can spare the time and effort, it’ll be worth going ahead with free online versions. The hope is that with the uptrend on eReaders and ePublishing, Creative Commons (have you considered licensing your content under that?), adopting an ePub would make more digital libraries acquire your work. Basically increase its accessibility and utility for the work you already put in. I’m saying this based on my experiments in publishing and selling my music online. My conclusion, very early on, was that if most people aren’t going to buy my content, then the next best thing for me is to share it and have it used. At least that’s my motivation.

  3. walt says:

    Hi Ivan,

    Thanks for the comment. The book will be licensed CC BY-NC (actually, the post says that), as are Walt at Random and Cites & Insights. I’ll look into ePub (if I do go ahead with the book)…