Speaker Event: Digital Books and Flying Cars: Libraries as Collateral Damage
by Digital Culture Books — University of Michigan
March 07, 2012 – 15:52
March 14, 10-11:30am
Library Gallery, Rm 100
Hatcher Graduate Library
Peter Brantley discusses the wild and chaotic publishing environment of today, and why actions of publishers are rational, even as they threaten to destroy traditional models of library book lending. A few conjectures about library responses will be offered.
In an incredibly short period of time, control of the publishing industry has largely moved out of the hands of publishers. This organizational disruption has many precedents but occurs at a time of tremendous technological change, with content production and distribution shifting rapidly from physical to digital modes, with concomitant economic upheaval. Even the very conception of the “book” as a self-contained package, with an emphasis on a linear narrative, has been flipped inside out as new interactive applications bridge media types: books that are not quite books, movies, or games; books that know where I am, and can learn from my reading of them.
As publishers try to make strategic decisions in this maelstrom of change, historical relationships, such as those involving libraries, are trammeled by strategic re-prioritizations. Publishers fear the simultaneous commodification of complex authoring tools, the rise of self publishing systems, and the development of internet platforms by Apple, Amazon, and Google. And, in response, publishers attempt to seize control over pricing and distribution in as many digital sectors as possible. It’s as if Toyota suddenly had to respond to home-3D printed family aerocars as a mainstream transportation.
Peter Brantley is the Director of the Bookserver Project at the Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based not-for-profit library, and is a Co-Founder of the Open Book Alliance, a coalition of librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, and technology companies. He was previously the Director of the Digital Library Federation, a non-profit association of research and national libraries.
Free and open to the public.