digitalculturebooks – Collaboration for Innovation

We were just talking about this. Libraries and university presses need to work together.

The University of Michigan is showing us how, with the launch of a new imprint, digitalculturebooks, a joint venture of the library and the University of Michigan Press. They plan to “develop new publishing strategies to meet the needs of both our authors and readers. In the coming year we will be publishing innovative and accessible work about the social, cultural, and political impact of new media, and developing our online community to support and extend these publications.”

One book – The Best of Technology Writing, 2006 – is available online or for sale in a print version. It looks really good, and four more titles are in the wings.

But that’s not the most exciting thing, according to LJ’s Academic Newswire.

As groundbreaking as some of the ideas, however, is the Press’s decision to practice what many of its authors now preach, using the Digital Culture imprint to develop an “open and participatory publishing model” that seeks to “build a community” around its content. “Our goal is to give each project a robust online and print presence and to use the effort not only to introduce scholars to a range of publishing choices but also to collect data about how consumption habits vary on the basis of genre, age, discipline,” MacKeen explained. “The data will help us to understand more about the economics of digital publishing, and will also, we think, offset any potential economic risks by developing the venture as a research opportunity.”

Can books be both free online and profitable? Can scholarly books reach a general audience? Can a library and a university press play well together? I’ll be watching this experiment with interest! But before I forget, I’m going to order a copy of that book for our library.

– posted by Barbara Fister

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

One thought on “digitalculturebooks – Collaboration for Innovation”

  1. I’m looking forward to this series too. I think it’s clear that we’re headed for a period when publishing will be primarily electronic, with print copies just a pale reflection of the rich content of the digital “versions”. The colaborative nature of the online content of this series could conceivably rival in importance the author-produced content, raising real quesrtions for libraries.

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