Sometimes people are important to you not for who they are, but for what they do. Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, is one such person. While I never met him, Michael’s work has definitely impacted my life: The last book I finished, like most of my fiction reading over the past 3 years, was a public domain ebook. I love the illustrations.
The first personal computer: KENBAK-1 (1971)
In 1971, the idea of pleasure reading on screens must have been novel. The personal computer had just been invented; a KENBAK-1 would set you back $750 — equivalent to $4200 in 2011 dollars.
Xerox Sigma V-SDS mainframe
Project Gutenberg’s first text — the U.S. Declaration of Independence — was keyed into a mainframe, about one month after Unix was first released. That mainframe, a Xerox Sigma V, was one of the first 15 computers on the Internet (well, technically, ARPANET). Project Gutenberg is an echo of the generosity of some UIUC sysadmins: The first digital library began a gift back to the world in appreciation of access to that computer.
Originally via @muttinmall
Tags: ARPANET, computer history, crowdsourcing, digital library history, ebooks, gift economy, mainframes, Michael S. Hart, Project Gutenberg
Posted in books and reading, future of publishing, information ecosystem, library and information science | Comments (0)
Holding on to old business models is not the way to endear yourself to customers.
But unfortunately this is also, simultaneously, a bad time to be a reader. Because the dinosaurs still don’t get it. Ten years of object lessons from the music industry, and they still don’t get it. We have learned, painfully, that media consumers—be they listeners, watchers, or readers—want one of two things:
- DRM-free works for a reasonable price
- or, unlimited single-payment subscription to streaming/DRMed works
Give them either of those things, and they’ll happily pay. Look at iTunes. Look at Netflix. But give them neither, and they’ll pirate. So what are publishers doing?
- Refusing to sell DRM-free books. My debut novel will be re-e-published by the Friday Project imprint of HarperCollins UK later this year; both its editor and I would like it to be published without DRM; and yet I doubt we will be able to make that happen.
- crippling library e-books
- and not offering anything even remotely like a subscription service.
– Jon Evans, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Books, via James Bridle’s Stop Press
Eric Hellman is one of the pioneers of tomorrow’s ebook business models: his company, Gluejar, uses a crowdfunding model to re-release books under Creative Commons licenses. Authors and publishers are paid; fans pay for the books they’re most interested in; and everyone can read and distribute the resulting “unglued” ebooks. Everybody wins.
Tags: business models, content, DRM, ebooks, publishing, subscriptions
Posted in books and reading, future of publishing, information ecosystem | Comments (0)
Provenance, Dan Conover says, can drive the adoption of semantic technologies:
Imagine a global economy in which every piece of information is linked directly to its meaning and origin. In which queries produce answers, not expensive, time-consuming evaluation tasks. Imagine a world in which reliable, intelligent information structures give everyone an equal ability to make profitable decisions, or in many cases, profitable new information products. Imagine companies that get paid for the information they generate or collect based on its value to end users, rather than on the transitory attention it generates as it passes across a screen before disappearing into oblivion.
Now imagine copyright and intellectual property laws that give us practical ways of tracing the value of original contributions and collecting and distributing marginal payments across vast scales.
That’s the Semantic Economy.
– Dan Conover on the semantic economy (my emphasis added).
via Bora Zivkovic on Twitter
I wonder if he’s seen the W3 Provenance XG Final Report yet. Two parts are particularly relevant: the dimensions of provenance and the news aggregator scenario. Truly making provenance pay will require both Management of provenance (especially Access and Scale) and Content provenance around Attribution.
Go read the rest of what Dan Conover says about the semantic economy. Pay particular attention to the end: Dan says that he’s working on a functional spec for a Semantic Content Management System — a RDF-based middleware so easy that writers and editors will want to use it. I know you’re thinking of Drupal and of the Semantic Desktop; we’ll see how he’s differentiating: He invites further conversation.
I’m definitely going to have a closer look at his ideas: I like the way he thinks, and this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed his ideas for making Linked Data profitable.
Tags: ebooks, economics, Eric Hellman, longtail, monetization, provenance, ungluing
Posted in future of publishing, information ecosystem, PhD diary, scholarly communication, semantic web | Comments (0)
I wrote Springer to ask about buying an ebook that’s not in our university subscriptions. They sell the print copy at €62.95, but the electronic copy comes to €425, chapter by chapter.
Publishers: this is short-sighted (not to mention frustrating)–especially when your customers are looking for a portable copy of a book they already owns!
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Springerlink, Support, Springer DE
Date: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 8:46 PM
Subject: WG: ebook pricing
Thank you for your message.
On SpringerLink you can purchase online single journal articles and book chapters, but no complete ebooks.
eBooks are sold by Springer in topical eBook packages only.
with kind regards,
SpringerLink Support Team
eProduct Management & Innovation | SpringerLink Operations
email@example.com | + 49 (06221) 4878 743
From: Jodi Schneider
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:09 PM
To: MetaPress Support
Subject: ebook pricing
I’m interested in buying a copy of [redacted] as an ebook:
This book has 17 chapters, which seem to be priced at 25 EUR each = 425 EUR.
But I could buy a print version, new at springer.com for 62.95 EUR:
Can you help me get the ebook at this price?
Tags: business models, ebooks, format agnosticism, price gouging, Springer
Posted in books and reading, future of publishing | Comments (3)