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Re: Google v. the Web?

It is precisely to answer this kind of question, Michael, that we 
set up our "open access" monograph publishing experiment in 
Romance Studies through our Office of Digital Scholarly Published 
operated jointly with the Penn State Libraries: 
http://www.romancestudies.psu.edu. Now these are true monographs, 
and hence a better test of the proposition than a book like 
Boyle's (or Larry Lessig's recent books, which have also been 
available OA). High-profile books like those are likely to have 
good sales in the marketplace whether or not they are available 
OA--though one must remember that Stephen King considered his 
experiment in OA publishing a few years back a dismal failure, 
when he asked people to pay voluntarily for their downloads of 
his novel "Riding the Bullet": 
Early results from our experiment do not show much difference in 
sales from what we experienced with the monographs in print form 
only. So far, so good--but it is still early in this experiment, 
and until we have a few more years' worth of data, we can't come 
to any hard conclusions. We are trying to track expenses very, 
very carefully so that we know how much cheaper (if at all) it is 
to publish in this fashion than in the traditional way. My guess 
is that the savings will be minimal, mainly achieved through such 
devices as using a template design (which, of course, could also 
have been used for the series when it was print only, but 

Sandy Thatcher

>I know that the issue of monograph publishing and the
>sustainability of university presses has been an oft-discussed
>topic on this list.
>I'd be interested in Sandy's and other list members' reactions to
>the question of whether academic authors and publishers might not
>do better that the Google settlement route by taking the open
>access route for scholarly monographs.
>Case in point.  James Boyle's new book has just been released
>under a Creative Commons license by Yale University Press.
>According to publicly available sales statistics, it's doing
>quite well.
>According to Amazon, yesterday, its Sales Rank was: #3,103 in
>Books (See Bestsellers in Books) Popular in these categories:
>(What's this?)
>#1 in   Books > Professional & Technical > Law > Intellectual Property
>#1 in   Books > Nonfiction > Law > Intellectual Property
>#4 in   Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Culture
>So, is that an aberration?  If so, why?  If not, why doesn't this
>point the way to a more profitable future for the public and
>university presses?
>Michael W. Carroll
>Visiting Professor of Law
>American University, Washington College of Law