Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Insider Peek, but book's are boring

Info on Safari Books online, through two stories from publishers weekly.

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.


Lee said...

Have you been following any of the peer review discussion in scientific circles?

As someone who is blogging a novel, I most certainly do not allow my readers to dictate to me. I read all comments and criticism, many of which are made privately by email, but view them like all editorial suggestions.

And we already have a great deal of really stupid art.

Boston BookEd said...

I haven't followed the peer review discussions too closely, though I've seen a bit about them. It's a good comparison - though it's still a fairly limited number of people weighing in on something, and people chosen as experts, as compared to putting something online for anyone to read and comment on.

But fine point on stupid art. But still, I'd like to think society as a whole has some standards, however ambiguous at times, and I worry that this direction could make those standards, already falling from reality tv et al, fall lower.