The first story was in March, and explained:
Safari Books Online, a joint venture of O'Reilly Media and the Pearson Technology Group offering digital access to technical reference works, has launched a new service called Rough Cuts, which allows access to online texts well before the physical print editions are available.
So these are techie books, but the idea has some troublesome potential, and is much like the concept supported by the Future of the Book folks: give certain readers (you have to buy a subscription) access to a full manuscript before publication, with the idea that some of the work may be cut out before pub but you, o special subscriber, can still see it. The main motivation for such innovation? Consumer impatience. From general manager Sean Devine:
"Earlier is better in the tech community," said Devine. "Waiting out the editorial process, printing and shipping to the store takes time, and our users need info sooner." Devine described Rough Cuts as "user-oriented publishing."
What's the opposite of "user-oriented publishing?"If one employs an editor, does it become editor-oriented? Industry-oriented?
So PW had a new story about Safari today, about "Short Cuts," "a series of brief works about emerging technologies not yet worthy of book-length treatment." V-p of marketing Debra Woods explained, [We are] embracing new formats like Short Cuts and Rough Cuts—products custom designed for the online medium."
This seems like doing things half-ass to me. If we start focusing on getting things to the consumer asap and getting everything online even if it's not fully developed, aren't we sacrificing quality? I don't want a day to come when novelists throw up their manuscript-in-progress and let it become user-oriented, with online readers dictating what should happen to characters and how the setting should develop. I'm not trying to sound elitist... but I'm afraid this would lead to really stupid art.