Monday, November 30, 2015

Not the Academic Book of the Future

Publisher Palgrave Macmillan are offering a free 134 page ebook on "The Academic Book of the Future" by Rebecca E. Lyons and Samantha Rayner (2015). But if this is the future of academic publishing, it is a very dull place. As an example, in chapter 12 Craig Dadds writes that campus bookstores are "essential". It is obvious that bookstores do add to campus life, but how they are to survive competition from on-line sales of paper and e-books?

My suggestion is that salvation for the campus bookstore will come with more students living on campus. Bookstores will turn into department stores, which also sell books. The UBC bookstore in Vancouver is a good example of this. When I was there last year I noticed that most space was taken over for selling clothing, bedding, small appliances and electronics (all things students need), along with textbooks.

More exciting than the content are the formats Lyons and Rayner's book is offered in. As well as the usual PDF, it is also in ePub version, which is impressive for a free book. The Kindle version mentioned is not really a Kindle version, just the PDF converted.

The ePub is only 683Kbytes, whereas the PDF is 7.2 MBytes. About 5 Mbytes is taken up by the cover image of the book being incorrectly formatted for PDF and the rest seems to be from incorrect encoding of fonts.

The book has the most open "by" license, so it would be very simple to produce your own version from the HTML in the ePub edition.

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