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  • E Publishing Opportunism October 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback

    Beach has noted before in this place the extraordinary world of digital books which has opened up in the last few years. He has argued fiercely (though it is certainly a lost battle) that Google are villains and that www.archive.org should be showered with Nobel peace prizes and chocolate Easter eggs. However, only recently a new and regressive aspect of the digital revolution has come to his attention: the print-on-demand market.

    Let’s start with a simple fact. There are lots of old folk around (Beach includes himself) who do not feel comfortable reading long texts on line. Pdf books are wonderful for searching out references to obscure Hindu god,s but they are rather less amenable for, say, enjoying a novel or for trying to absorb a thirty-day Victorian trip down the Nile.

    These incorrigibly twentieth-century folk will need then physical copies of the book in question. You can either do this the ugly way and spit out a five hundred page book on your daisy-wheel printer and start stapling . Or, at the other extreme, you can lovingly use calligraphy on parchment and cover with a calf skin.

    In between these extremes you can get self print drones on the internet to do a middling job on your behalf.

    Beach for 50 euros/50 dollars/50 pounds sterling would gladly put together a beautiful, textually pure, hand-stitched version with a hardcover and a title (for anything up to a thousand pages) and send it anywhere in the world free of charge. He’s priced this out this morning and would go into business if it wasn’t for the Italian tax authorities. Don’t believe him? Send an order…

    Others will do it cheaper but they do not, for the most part, offer guarantees on pdf quality. The result is that the inaccuracies and blurred and missing pages in the original (typically ‘borrowed’ from gangly Google) are carried through to the print version. Skip through amazon reviews to get the whole story.

    Done properly the print on demand lark could be, hell, it should be worthwhile. But Beach recently came across another form of e-opportunism that is far more audacious and borders on the inexcusable. He was looking for a book for a student on Amazon.co.uk and stumbled over this peculiar title.

    Italian Ski Mountaineers: Italian Military Patrol Runners, Gloriana Pellissier, Dennis Brunod, Manfred Reichegger, Roberta Pedranzini: Gloriana [truncated] Lanfranchi, Damiano Lenzi, Mirco Mezzanotte

    This title costs just shy of 20 pounds and is delivered free of charge in the UK which is just as well as it is only 30 pages long. Then there is a warning. ‘Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online.’ So you cut and paste two dozen Wikipedia entries, bind it with cheap paper and then charge people twenty pounds to buy it.

    For further Wiki Publishing considerations follow this link: thanks to Ricardo for the tip!

    Other examples of e-opportunism in publishing? This is a voyage of discovery for Beachcombing and he would be glad to learn more. drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com