Get LISNews via email! Enter Your Email Address:
19,000 papers leaked to protest 'war against knowledge'
A critic of academic publishers has uploaded 19,000 scientific papers to the internet to protest the prosecution of a prominent programmer and activist accused of hacking into a college computer system and downloading almost 5 million scholarly documents from an archive service.
The 18,592 documents made available Wednesday through Bittorrent were pulled from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, a prestigious scientific journal that was founded in the 1600s, the protester said.
Some readers like to see portraits of authors they admire, study their personal histories or hear them read aloud. I like to know whether an author can spell. Nabokov spelled beautifully. Fitzgerald was crummy at spelling, bedeviled by entry-level traps like “definate.” Bad spellers, of course, can be sublime writers and good spellers punctilious duds. But it’s still intriguing that Fitzgerald, for all his gifts, didn’t perceive the word “finite” in definite, the way good spellers automatically do. Did this oversight color his impression of infinity? Infinaty?
Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system. Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage.
So, why aren’t books dead yet? It helps that e-books are booming. Kindle and Nook have begun to refashion the economics of the medieval publishing industry: no trucks, no paper, no returns or remainders.
But that does not explain why writers write them. Writers write them for reasons that usually have a little to do with money and not as much to do with masochism as you might think. There is real satisfaction in a story deeply told, a case richly argued, a puzzle meticulously untangled. (Note the tense. When people say they love writing, they usually mean they love having written.) And it is still a credential, a trophy, a pathway to “Charlie Rose” and “Morning Joe,” to conferences and panels that Build Your Brand, to speaking fees and writing assignments.
Why We Publish
It isn’t to obtain tenure. And it isn’t for money. Although to some, that is what publishing has become. The rationale for why we publish is (should be) to communicate results to as great an audience as possible and advance our understanding of the world around us. At Mendeley, we started to wonder how we could help communicate results and bring new models to the publication ecosystem. We think that Open Access content, where the full-text is readily accessible to all, will be the standard communication model in the future. And as such, we are rethinking how we shape our discovery algorithms.
What is wrong with Scientific Publishing: an illustrative “true” story
In closing I should make it clear that Open Access in its formal sense is only a small advance. More people can read “it”, but “it” is an outdated, twentieth century object. It’s outlived its time. The value of Wikipedia and Nature Precedings for me is that this has enabled a communal journey. It’s an n<->n communication process rooted in the current century.
Unless “journals” change their nature (I shall explore this and I think the most valuable thing is for them to disappear completely) then the tectonic plates in scholarly publishing will create an earthquake.
The e-book era promises us all the pleasure of wading through the slush pile ourselves, even as the pile grows exponentially. Much of that growth comes from eager literary hopefuls making earnest efforts. But spammers are also making their contribution to the teeming digital library. As Reuters recently reported, some unscrupulous self-publishers have begun creating books by the ream merely by grabbing a few pages of text from websites and dumping them into ultraquickie e-books. The authors of such faux tomes can knock out 10 or 20 a day. And even if only a handful of people make the mistake of downloading one of these "books," the spammer still makes enough pennies to keep at it.
Unbound is a new way of connecting with writers. Most of the writers on our site will be well known, others will appear here for the first time.
What's different is that instead of waiting for them to publish their work, Unbound allows you to listen to their ideas for what they'd like to write before they even start. If you like their idea, you can pledge to support it. If we hit the target number of supporters, the author can go ahead and start writing (if the target isn't met you can either get your pledge refunded in full or switch your pledge to another Unbound project).
This year’s BookExpo America, an annual publishing business trade show, is full of talk of e-reading and other shifts in the industry.
There is a Wild West quality to the book business these days, and it is on full display at BookExpo America, an annual trade show that draws tens of thousands of authors, publishers and booksellers; this year it is at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.
Authors are shrugging off publishers to self-publish their work. Publishers are advancing into retail. Barnes & Noble is getting deeper into the gadget business, and Amazon is stepping into publishing.
Amazon dropped a shoe last week when they announced their new mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer Books, and started signing authors, including self-publishing evangelist, Joe Konrath.
Last night they dropped the other shoe, which turned out to be a very heavy boot. They signed former Time Warner Publishing (the company that is now Hachette Book Group) CEO Larry Kirshbaum to head up a new general trade imprint for them.