walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

All this humor is giving me a slight headache

http://umichpress.typepad.com/university_of_michigan_pr/2009/05/university-press-20-by-phil-pochoda.html

That is an incredibly, shockingly long blog post. Truly wrong. Here are a couple highlights:

"UP2.0 will be immediately confronted by the co-existence of the two not quite compatible sensibilities sketched above: one that attaches to the printed book (and the many mature intellectual, scholarly, professional and personal circuits in which books circulate); and the other that is cathected to the digital book, itself the emerging epicenter of a vast but immature set of technological, scholarly, professional, and personal digital networks (attachments that make up in passion and scope for what they lack in history and development). In the short run, at least, I believe that presses will have to harness and ride the print/digital pair in tandem, favoring the digital colt as the mount for the future, but keeping the aging but steady print workhorse nourished on demand."

I still think The Onion had something to do with this. Ride a couple horses in tandem? How does that even make sense? And how can a "sensibility" be "cathected" to a "book", digital or otherwise? Aren't you usually cathected _with_? Conceivably by, I suppose. I don't think I trust this writer.

Continuing to the next paragraph:

"UP2.0 will feature the availability and applicability of digitally enabled interactive networks and networking at every phase of the publication process. Digital books will incorporate a wide range of digital features and resources, including, at a basic UP 1.0 non-interactive level, supplementation of text by imaginative digital audio and visual materials; linkages to relevant disciplinary books and other didactic materials issued by UP2.0 itself; and instant access to all of the sources, citations, notes, and bibliography mentioned in the text."

Look, you're going from paper to digital to save money, and the paper process _does not have artwork_ typically, because it's too expensive to design and you can't usually hand that project off to the author, and you don't professionally proofread the book (because it's too expensive) and you try to discourage _pictures_ in the book -- not just because of reproduction costs, but because of _rights_ costs -- and getting the index and notes right is one the biggest headaches of academic publishing. How do you think you're going to have the resources to hyperlink the little numbers in the text to the notes in the back, much less have the sources in the back link off somewhere else to access something that you also have to get the rights to? A link which will break every time the source decide to redesign its archives.

It's bad enough when a software company hires idiots like this with Brilliant Ideas that no one really cares about, certainly not enough to justify the price tag. We've watched Blio do a slow-motion collapse attempting to implement these kinds of ideas first as a hardware reader, then as a software reader, and they're _still_ hung up on content issues. But to have a subsidized university press engage in this kind of timewasting day dreaming?

It _was_ really funny, but now I feel a little hungover and cranky. I think I'll go play Farm Town for a while, and be extremely thankful I avoided academia as a career path.
Tags: academic publishing, e-book coverage
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