One idea that surfaced a lot last week is how e-documents are never finished.
Data can be revisited and reworked; articles can be updated. An e-published document is subject to change at any point in time.
Now how does that affect what it’s worth? And how does an archivist keep track of all the changes?
Today we move from the academic to the casual reader, as we move from articles to full e-books.
Ruth Jones from Ingram Publishing described publishing as a way to meet the demand for information. And in that sense, creating an e-book that can be updated after the fact is anticipating that demand before the reader even knows it exists.
But dynamic updates seem to mean a lot more for the academic or the student, who might need access to the latest data. For the casual reader, changing the end of a novel would be more of a disruption than a benefit.
Alison Jones, from Palgrave MacMillan, pointed out a few more features that push e-publishing beyond simple digital text. Interestingly, the dynamic update makes an e-book safe(r) from piracy. There’s no point in putting a reference work or journal online if it’s going to be outdated in a week or a month.
But for e-books that are designed to mimic paper, piracy becomes more of an issue. So trade e-books can add digital watermarks that will identify the pirate by their original transaction ID. And text books can come with a digital forum in which each user has to comment in order to prove they purchased their text book.
I wish publishers would put as much energy into creating rental models, resale models and social sharing (digital bookclubs, anyone?) as they do into anti-piracy features, but I do appreciate the respect that e-book publishers show to readers– they clearly value getting their content into the hands and devices of their readers.