Chapter and Verse

So, Lonely Planet has launched what it calls ‘pick and mix’; which allows users to download single pdf chapters and compile a guidebook that suits their exact requirements. It’s kind of like the old ‘tear out the bits of the guidebook you need’ trick, but far more cost effective – you only pay for the chapters you actually need. This should work really well for guidebooks; I’d be keen to use it for things like wine guides as well. Provided the format works on the device I actually end up carrying in my pocket all of the time.

I suspect, though, that LP expects most people to print out a copy and carry that around. DIY POD as it were.

What with an interesting venture into PSP titles, it’s good to see a publisher explore delivery options beyond print.

Via Publishers Weekly

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4 comments so far

  1. Kate Eltham on

    I was talking about this idea with a university publisher a couple of months ago and suggested that the academic market is ripe for this sort of innnovation. Imagine if lecturers could compile their own custom text books for courses with individual chapters from a variety of texts. Students could either download them individually (or as a whole text, much like the single versus album purchase at iTunes) or take them to the on-campus POD for a handy hard-copy version. He replied there was still amazing reluctance from the academic publishers to licence individual chapters in this way.

  2. shermanfyoung on

    Considering how many course readers are made up of individual book chapters, the academic market seems natural. I was speaking to a guy from dadirect.com.au who suggested that they do something like this, but I haven’t had a chance to followup properly… And of course publishers are keen to protect their textbook sales!

  3. Kate Eltham on

    Yeah I can definitely understand why the publishers in the education market feel protective of their textbook sales, but I also think they’re best positioned to get the most profitability out of it if they move now. It would require a shift in rights management with their authors. It seems inevitable that academics could market their papers directly to the education market without textbook publishers. But then I have a poor understanding about how academics source texts for their students. There’s probably an important marketing and sales function publishers perform now that academics would not have time or skill for. Yet they could make more proft margin from selling content that doesn’t have to be printed, just like Lonely Planet. I wonder if an aggregator will emerge in the academic market, an iTunes of research papers, chapters etc.

  4. shermanfyoung on

    I can only speak from my own experience – the academic publishers definitely ‘pitch’ textbooks to us; as well as any other books they feel might be of interest. But compiling course readers is a bit haphazard; you tend to draw on readings you already know (from journals, conferences etc) rather than things that other academics have actually tried to ‘sell’. It seems to happen more in a knowledge economy, rather than a monetary one!! And we tend to let the collection agencies sort it out in the end.

    You’re right though, if there were a single repository of academic pieces (like the itunes store!!), it would make things easier for a whole bunch of things. I think it would be incredibly useful, but I suspect that by making it easy to find things, there would be resistance from those who don’t want things so easily found :-).

    All we need is a venture capitalist with bottomless pockets, a universal e-text format (pdf?) and massive cultural change in the academy!!


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