When are e-Books coming?

For years I have been on the Liblicense list, which is widely read by university librarians and academic publishers. It is a big list with several thousand adherents, but librarians are not particularly vocal (that comes with needing to be quiet in the library — yeah, I know, very feeble joke) and many publishers sign up to the list but keep their heads down (because they dont want to be exposed as money grasping scoundrels — even more feeble joke). So the list is quite controversial but not that busy in view of the emotions it sometimes engenders.

One of the regular communicators is Chuck Hamaker (of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte). Today he commends a recent newsletter from the Association of American University Presses and in particular some promising signs of innovation from MIT Press. But he also includes an injunction to publishers to get a move on with digital books:

Come on, get to it–make e-books practical and workable, please!

I suspect that a lot of publishers feel as though they are stampeding into an e-books future, but to the university librarian it looks as though the industry is slow off the mark. In one way Chuck is clearly right. Academic research journals have been digital for years, and academic books are by contrast scarcely available in digital form. Time to hurry up!

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