The View From the Publisher’s Desk: Top Publishing News of the Week, 2/26/10

26 Feb

Well, this week I’m still reveling the fact that after a round of serious cleaning at the end of last week and the first part of this one, the top of my desk is as clear and organized as it ever is. The initial shipping of inventory to Midpoint Trade Books continues unabated, the Electromechanical Principles of Wind Turbines textbook now has the search inside the book (SITB) capability at Amazon (a first for us), and we’ve got new projects in the works including Beth Ziesenis’ guide to free/low-cost online tools & apps along with Evada Cooper‘s 100 Years of RV Cooking cookbook.

Anyway, while none of the above could particularly be considered the top publishing news of the week—except maybe for us—I have been thinking more lately about how useful the Google Reader widget is on my iGoogle homepage. Once upon a time, when there were only about half a dozen blogs I was interested in following, I didn’t really quite get the idea of having rss feeds delivered to my homepage. After all, I thought, if you’re going to follow a blog, then to be a REAL fan you needed to go to the site to read it. But, after I started following a LOT of publishing industry blogs—a LOT being 50+—I decided it was time to bow to to technology’s pressure and use a feed reader instead of periodically clicking through a million blogs to see if any new posts had appeared since the last time I visited. But, to be honest, like most leaps forward in efficiency, this one has turned out pretty well. Now that I’ve got the Google Reader widget in the upper right hand corner of my iGoogle homepage (and as new articles get posted at any of the blogs I’m following) they magically appear a constantly updating list.

Most of what does show up is of passing interest in our own small corner of the publishing world, but the sheer volume of information scrolling by on any given day is enough that there are always a few nuggets that really do apply to what we do. With that in mind, I thought I’d start passing on the links to that we find of particular interest (. . . hopefully on some sort of periodic basis as well):

Textbooks That Professors Can Rewrite Digitally
(2/21/10 via The New York Times)

It seems like such a good and simple idea: let professors digitally construct textbooks from a publisher’s library. However, problems can arise . . . especially when how those resulting textbooks are constructed/edited and whether the intent and purpose of the material the same as when the publisher first attached their name/brand/logo to it.

Platform Wars Come to the Book Business
(2/23/10 via The Scholarly Kitchen)

This is one of the biggest issues we face when contemplating a serious move into e-books: the multiple and completing platforms that require seemingly endless file format conversions . . . and with all the attendant layout problems that inevitably ensue. It’s one of those things that makes smaller publishers want to stay on the sidelines until there’s a clear winner in both file format & reader.

Colleges test Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader as study tool
(2/23/10 via USA Today)

The KindleDX, once touted as the one and future textbook e-reader, is not quite the panacea that was hoped for. (Plus, if you look at the prices of many of the standard college textbooks available at Amazon’s Kindle store, the prices do not tend to be significantly lower than their printed counterparts.)

Attributor U.S. Book Anti-Piracy Research Findings
(From Attributor Corporation via GalleyCat on 2/25/10)

Some well-researched numbers on book piracy. For a small publisher of primarily technical instruction materials, we’re always worrying about the implications of hard copy and digital piracy.

Why I Failed at Freelancing
(2/25/19 via Freelance Folder)

We’ve got an ever-growing body of freelancers—writers, editors, indexers, book designers—and this post is a good overview of why some people can make a go of freelancing but most others crater pretty quickly.

Anyway, I hope these articles that I’ve culled from the hundreds that passed through my feed reader are of some interest . . . as I gaze out upon the TSTC Publishing empire—or at least as far as the Helvetica poster on the far wall—I’ll try to be back soon with more recommendations of good reads from the mountains of book publishing industry news out there.


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