The e-book: A sigh of the times


Jennifer Howard, my former editor at the Washington Post Book Worldhas an article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education about the Association of American University Presses conference — a shindig held in, of all places, Salt Lake City this year.   What did they discuss?  E-books, e-books, e-books.  Some highlights from “Scholarly Presses Confront an Increasingly Digital Present”:

“If somebody can tell you what the models are that work, they’re lying to you. Nobody knows,” said Alexander M.C. Halavais of Quinnipiac University.  “But doing the same thing you’re doing now is not a good long-term strategy.”

“Too much or too little technology is dangerous,” said Tim Barton of Oxford University Press. “Getting technology right is really difficult, and mistakes are expensive.”

And if those comments don’t scare you, try this one from the “comments” section:

“I don’t think it is a bad thing that the internet is killing off ‘deep reading.’ I find that I prefer consuming information in a fluid, associative, montage-like way (I always loved Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades” project). As times change, our mode of reading must evolve, too.

Recession notwithstanding, the numbers were up from the mid-400s to 525 this year — even though last year’s conference was held in the comparative haven of Philadelphia, rather than Salt Lake City. Sigh of the times:  More than 80 people showed for a pre-meeting workshop on e-book-publishing strategies (organized by Stanford University Press‘ Alan Harvey).  Though the news is scary, at least two people look pleased to be en route to the great Salt Lake — my publisher David Sanders of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press and Marty Tuck, Ohio University’s provost for academic affairs.  From David’s Facebook page:

David Sanders and Marty Tuck revel in the vagabond life

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