Re: Other Forms of Publishing?

From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang_at_INRIA.FR>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 11:38:20 +0200

On Sun, Jun 03, 2001 at 03:51:59PM +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> Joseph J. Esposito wrote in Nature's ongoing WebDebate:
> > I was formerly a publisher (CEO of Encyclopaedia Britannica) and now
> > work in the Napster-besotted world of Internet strategy consulting....
> >
> > While it is only natural that the readers of Nature would direct their
> > comments to the world of scientific publishing, I would like to know if
> > any or all of the remarks posted to date are intended to have any
> > application to other areas of publishing. For example, it has been
> > suggested that all scientific papers be made available for free in a
> > publicly accessible digital archive six months after initial
> > publication. Should this apply to journals in the humanities as well?
> > And why stop at journals? What about college textbooks, K-12
> > supplementary materials, cookbooks, and Helen Fielding's latest? In
> > other words, what makes science journals different from all other
> > species of publishing when it comes to free public access (after a
> > limited period of time)?
> No. The motivation and justification and method for the "literature
> liberation movement" applies ONLY to the author give-away literature
> (chiefly, the 20,000 refereed research journals published annually).
> It does not, and should not, apply to author royalty/fee/salary-based
> writings at all (books, magazine/newspaper articles). To conflate the
> give-away and non-give-away literatures is to confuse and cloud the
> issue completely, and to miss the point:

While I agree with this, I came across an interesting case.

The author wrote a very large manual regarding all issues of Internet
Programming ... maybe 1000 pages or more. Which was published, and is
also available on the web.

  Then he asked to actually turn it into a free book (free as in
freedom), allowing anyone to republish it. That, the publisher
refused, though he had already made his profit on the book.
  The interesting part is why the author wanted that. The reason is
very simple: Internet programming evolves very quickly .... and the
author could not afford keeping up with it. He wanted to make the
book free in order to encourage others to keep it up-to-date, in the
spirit of free software. As it is now, the book is dying... a pity.

side remark:
  regarding the supposed role of publishers for proper selection of
what ought to be published, I wish there was a law allowing me to
return books for reimbursement whenever I let myself be abused by
massive advertising on totally, and visibly, and obviously incompetent
work, both in content and style. I mean that even a technically
incompetent publisher could not have been abused.
   I have come to trust far more the open information I can collect on
the Internet regarding the worth of written contribution than anything
I read in the written press.
   Though this is not directly related to scientific publishing, I am
beginning to wonder ...


Bernard Lang

         Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
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Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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