Markets for Electronic Books: Emerging Markets for Books, from Creator to Consumer

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Calvert, P. (2004), "Markets for Electronic Books: Emerging Markets for Books, from Creator to Consumer", Online Information Review, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 241-241.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book shows how publishers are moving away from a manufacturing view of the world in which publishing companies would oversee the creation of simple, single entities called books. The emphasis in this title of the C‐2‐C series is on the impact of the knowledge‐based information economy, with the main question being how market forces within an information economy will force publishers to adopt Internet technologies to sell their products. Naturally this has a significant impact on information centres, for whatever the publishers must do to maintain their integrity will inevitably affect the sort of resources that are available for use in libraries and similar institutions.

There are rather too many librarians of my acquaintance who regard publishers as the enemy for the way in which they profit from scholarly communication, while librarians pass it on for no charge. This simplistic view ignores the need for motivation to do the publishing, without which librarians would have no raw materials. The best thing for librarians to do is to understand the way that each party in the scholarly information chian works and what they need to take from their participation. That is why the chapter by Paul Mercieca on the Gale Group is so useful, for it describes how publishers need to control the supply side to make a profit from their endeavours. In the digital age this is done mainly by “chunking” as Mercieca calls it, that is, the breaking up of a single work into “chunks” that can be stored in a database, then retrieved and reprocessed in various forms. Keys to the successful implementation of this are multiple links, simple browsing functionality, and a good search interface.

Other chapters are perhaps more predictable, though they are still useful and often will give good practical guidance to librarians seeking new ways to do things in a changing environment. The trial of e‐book readers at the Tea Tree Gully City Council and the mix of electronic services for learning provided at John Paul College in Brisbane, are examples of what has been done already and can be adopted more widely in the future. I found the chapter on wireless applications less useful and the chapter on the application of digital and geospatial technologies in map production too peripheral – although not every reader will agree with either assessment. Perhaps the chapter on access by the disabled to published material (by Martin Fathers) has more interest to the average reader. The whole of Part 2 is directed at the publishing industry and, though of considerable value, will not be so useful to librarians.

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