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Written by Benjamin Geer

22 August 2009 at 21:01

OA book web publishing increases readership twentyfold

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Government is GoodWriting recently about his Adventures in Web Publishing at the Inside Higher Ed website, professor Douglas J. Amy described his problem as one typical for many academics: although previously an author of three scholarly books, he wrote a manuscript for a wider audience which failed to attract any suitable publisher. So, he turned it into a website in 2007. Here’s what he says about the result:

“I had over 75,000 visitors to the site. Only half of those stayed long enough to read some of the material […]  I can safely say that more people have read this online material than have read my other three books combined. Two of these books were published by university presses and were considered successful. But for these publishers, good sales are often measured in the hundreds – numbers which now seem very modest in comparison to the tens of thousands of readers who have visited my Web site. […] I’ve had readers from over 50 countries.  This kind of broad geographical readership would clearly not have happened with a conventionally published book.”

If the print version would have sold 700 copies, and each of them was partly read by a single reader, while only a quarter of unique web visitor were partial web book readers, it still leaves us with 18750:700, or 26:1 ratio in favour of the web book edition.

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Written by KontraMraku

10 August 2009 at 20:41

Posted in Analysis

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OA books – detailed familiarity leads to multiple on-going sales

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Previous post on five new OA monograph series is phenomenal news for the Free Our Books campaign, and an example of, i believe, future to come soon. We, the authors, will be battling with publishers to give our books away electronically, hoping that we will capture readers attention enough to buy a print copy. Early this year, in May, i went through a short discussion with my, then potential (contract signed since), publisher, in which i suggested, and was without any problems granted, an Open Access book contract for which i drafted an Addendum – more details on that in another post soon.

I buy books weekly, and my biggest problem is where to store them and when to find the time to read them. However, most books that i buy these days are books whose content i already know reasonably well. Either through finding a copy somewhere online, or often by reading parts of full length essays which make up the book, frequently posted by authors on their personal website, sometimes presentations from conferences, or published in journals.

A clear example of this is Graham Harman’s work. I first heard of him through a one day workshop on Speculative Realism, held in April 2007 at Goldsmiths in London. Although i missed the workshop, I saw some of the authors on multiple occasions presenting papers in other conferences too.  Full transcripts from the conference were published in Collapse III, which was the reason why i  bought it (familiarity leading to a sale). I liked Collapse III so much, that i bought 4 out of 5 of issues published so far (familiarity leading to multiple sales). The only one i missed, strangely enough, is the sold out one, Collapse IV, which was provided for free on-line after it sold out, as reported on this blog. I then saw slides and part of the video from  Harman’s talk at LSE in November 2007. Earlier this year, in April, i was at the second Speculative Materialism / Speculative Realism workshop in Bristol at UWE, where i saw Harman for the first time live, presenting. Because i liked the conference, and was intrigued by his presentation, i downloaded and read part of his book Prince of Networks, published by Open Access book publisher Re.press. I started writing on object-oriented philosophy and if it develops in a full text, i will most likely buy Harman’s books (familiarity leading to sales).

If i end up liking his work a lot and using it extensively in my own work, his book will become automatic-buys for me, in the same ways books by Antonio Negri, Slavoj Žižek, and Alain Badiou are – i have vast majority of their books published in English, because i’m familiar with their work and because i always get the taste of what’s in the coming books from their conference papers, texts they continuously publish, often with free access (like lacan.com), on blogs, websites and in journals. Again, it’s my familiarity that leads to multiple, on-going, sales.

Authors that only publish in closed access journals, that do not self-archive on their websites — especially if institutions in which i work are not subscribed to the journals in which they publish, and if i don’t follow conferences at which they present — have hardly any chances of me buying their books. Some clever publishers and authors expose their books almost entirely through Google Books preview option, i bought several books like that (familiarity leading to multiple sales).

Publishers and authors which do not allow me to get familiar with their work in detail through some form of Open Access before i buy it, if it is to judge by my book buying patters,  are loosing sales. And we’re not talking small sales here either. While a student, my books budget is modest (£600 this year,  estimate annual average over last 5 years is £500) in comparison with a busy researcher with a budget that comes with the job . If, and when, i finish my PhD and get a job in a department doing well financially, i might end up with a annual research fund between £1300-1700 to spend on books, every year, for many years to come. My colleagues who are already in this position told me that once you work in academia, you end up getting lots  of books for free. But you don’t necessarily get exactly the books you want. Nor do you get them when you want them. And these are two key criteria for a fast developing research. I’m used to immediate access to texts in my research so much, that if and when i think i really need a book, i buy it immediately on-line. Sometimes i make mistakes, and long distance selling regulations helped on several occasion to return the book bought by mistake in a rush – i don’t use book sellers which do not easily, with no postage to pay, allow books to be returned within a week, or often two weeks.  In short, i don’t think that i will buy less books because i will be geting some of them for free. The only reason i might be buying less books is storage space, and i’m working on a solution to that too (it’s the hardest part).

Over 15 years, roughly £23.000 is likely to be the budget that i’ll be  spending on books. I’m far from the only person with this buying pattern. It is more likely that my pattern represents a significantly large category of academic book buyers. How large and how significant, statistically speaking, i can’t tell. A rough judgment would be that it’s large enough to be taken seriously, researched in more detail, and taken in consideration when decisions on Open Access are made by authors and publishers. For us,  book addicts with this pattern, the more an author and publisher embrace Open Access, the more likely is a part of our budget going to be spent on their books.

With Open Access Books, familiarity leads to sales.

Detailed familiarity leads to multiple on-going sales.

Written by KontraMraku

8 August 2009 at 20:07

Posted in Analysis, Opinion

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OA books key to focus on purely academic considerations

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The title of this post are the words of Graham Harman, philosopher known for his work on object-oriented philsophy, who is a co-editor of one of the five newly announced Open Access monograph series by the Open Humanities Press.  Here’s the exact quote:

“This model allows us the speed, editorial flexibility and boldness to focus on purely academic considerations in our series, and with the sharp sense of mission that accompanies such ventures”

Only few days ago, Harman finished an interesting experiment, writing a new book and documenting the time spent and the amount of words written on his blog regularly. You can read the entire log at Harman’s blog here.

Written by KontraMraku

8 August 2009 at 18:34

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re.press new book: The Italian Difference

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In the latest book from the only philosophy Open Access book publisher, you can read the following:

Antonio Negri, ‘The Italian Difference’
Pier Aldo Rovatti, ‘Foucault Docet’
Gianni Vattimo, ‘Nihilism as Emancipation’
Roberto Esposito, ‘Community and Nihilism’
Matteo Mandarini, ‘Beyond Nihilism: Notes Towards a Critique of Left-Heideggerianism in Italian Philosophy of the 1970s’
Luisa Muraro, ‘The Symbolic Independence from Power’
Mario Tronti, ‘Towards a Critique of Political Democracy’
Alberto Toscano, ‘Chronicles of Insurrection: Tronti, Negri and the Subject of Antagonism’
Paolo Virno, ‘Natural-Historical Diagrams: The ‘New Global’ Movement and the Biological Invariant’
Lorenzo Chiesa, ‘Giorgio Agamben’s Franciscan Ontology’

Download the book here.

repress_Front_Cover100

Written by KontraMraku

29 July 2009 at 14:53

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Two Bits – first Duke Press OA book

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Kelty’s book, Two Bits, was the first Duke Press book published online and in print simultaneously. Back in January he wrote how having the book as a free download as well helped, and not damaged, as some feared, his career. He was surprised that downloads to print sales ratio was 3:1. Promoting book is hard work, he notes, and putting it online will not transfer into print sales unless a lot of work is put into it.  Kelty’s January analysis is here. The bit that i didn’t know, and hence this old-new-but-new-for-me post, is that it has gone into reprint since:

Two Bits has sold 1142 paperback copies (which doesn’t include publicity or review copies) since its release last June, and we are now preparing to reprint

Two Bits book blog is here.

Screenshot-TwoBits.png

Written by KontraMraku

29 July 2009 at 14:41

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The Late Age of Print – Columbia University press first OA book

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It’s a good sign when a widely known academic publisher releases their first book both in both print and as a PDF simultaneously, and most likely only the author knows how much energy and  patience was required to negotiate it.

You can download the book here. Blog about the book is here.

The Late Age of Print

Written by KontraMraku

29 July 2009 at 14:15

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