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Re: Thanks to three list members

I am skeptical about the idea of getting more people "connected" 
to libraries as a solution to the access problem.  There are 
quite a few direct-to-consumer services being developed now, 
which bypass libraries altogether.  Firms are creating 
aggregations of scholarly material and new subscription models 
for individuals.  The enterprise model--libraries--is gradually 
yielding territory to direct marketing.

But my real disagreement is with JCG, who believes that Toby's 
figures suggest that there is more interest in books than is 
reflected in purchases. This is one of the arguments for open 
access, but whatever the merits (or inevitability) of open 
access, it seems to me that the situation is precisely the 
opposite, that there are more purchases than interest.

The librarians on this list are invited to consult their own 
circulation records for those books that have never circulated, 
but I invite JCG to join me on one of my regular trips to my 
marvelous local bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz is a 
nuclear-free zone, so there is nothing to fear.

If JCG is like me and the other 2 or 3 dozen people in the store, 
he will stop at the front table and pick up a book or two, noting 
the names of the authors who will be coming to read at the shop. 
He will make his way to the new nonfiction table, read some 
jacket copy, put some books down and pick some others up.  He 
will cast a guilty glance at "The Lost Symbol," knowing that he 
should be ashamed to enjoy it.  Overall he may pick up and glance 
at a couple dozen books and perhaps walk out with one.

If this were online, every one of those glances, those idle 
musings, would register as a download. Ah!  Interest!  I 
sometimes pick up a book just to be able to read the title 
better--a download.  There was a period of about ten years when I 
worked in trade publishing that I literally had read 2-3 pages of 
every single book that appeared on the New York Times bestseller 
list.  Downloads, every single one of them.  But I could count 
the number of bestsellers I have ever read on the fingers of one 

The problem with the notion that there is pent-up demand for 
material is that it assumes an infinite capability to consume. 
If you take a survey and ask people, Wouldn't you like to read 
"Finnegan's Wake," you get the answer: "Yeah, sure."  All those 
downloads, but very few readers.  One of the founders of a 
prominent open access publisher was quoted by a reporter a while 
back to the effect that for his discipline, he had to read 700 
journals.  All of them?  Every single article?  All those 

The survey I would like to conduct is of the people on this list. 
How many books does each individual currently own but has not 
(yet) read?  That's the measure of the gap between desire and 
achievement.  That's the land of open access.

Joe Esposito

On 10/13/09 4:50 PM, "Sally Morris (Morris Associates)"
<sally@morris-assocs.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> I think J-C has hit the spot in pointing out the function of
> libraries as the current solution to the 'toll-gate' problem (and
> of course, it's not just solved through what the individual
> library owns, but also through what it can borrow - or get a copy
> of - under existing rules, from another library).
> Libraries haven't killed publishers - indeed, they are sometimes
> their main market.  But then, they pay for things...
> Perhaps what we should really be asking is 'who is not served by
> libraries' and thinking what can be done about that.  Wiping
> publishers off the map, when studies seem to suggest that both
> authors and readers actually value what they do, and prefer the
> version which has been subject to those processes, does not seem
> on the face of it to be a good solution.
> (I would say that, wouldn't I?)  ;-)
> Sally Morris
> Email: sally@morris-assocs.demon.co.uk
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> [mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Jean-Claude Guedon
> Sent: 13 October 2009 01:22
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Thanks to three list members
> Many thanks to Sandy, Toby and Joe for informative, full and very
> interesting answers to my remarks. Although I study publishing as
> intensely as I can, I am not involved in the day-to-day
> operations of a press. As a result, I certainly cannot (and would
> not) claim the kind of expertise we just read in the three notes
> I am referring to. Thanks again.
> The relationship between OA electronic versions of books and
> actual sales of paper is the crucial point, I believe. Obviously,
> the numbers provided by Toby show that the number of people
> interested by (some) books is hugely superior to the number of
> buyers. This is, after all, one of the rationales behind research
> libraries. This difference in numbers also says something about
> the brakes on knowledge a toll-gated model of diffusion imposes,
> and it would be interesting to try quantifying it in some manner.
> But it also brings to mind the fact that a digital document lends
> itself to *conscious* modes of reading. Some "reading" is really
> a way of retrieving information, checking a fact, or checking the
> exact nature of a particular argument, as well as the nature of
> its supporting evidence. It is interesting to note that Google
> offers digital documents that can only be read in the banal sense
> of the word (and essentially on screen, because printing page
> images is painfully slow). Google reserves other possibilities of
> reading to themselves and they make money through their ad sense
> model. In effect, they achieve what Cliff Lynch has warned
> against: a form of open access without open computation.
> Now, it seems to me that some degree of OA is better than none
> (this is what makes the Google agreement so complex to
> disentangle). In parallel, it also seems to me that some
> computational possibilities can be given out while other
> possibilities can be retained for revenue. This is reminiscent of
> "some rights retained" in the Creative Commons world. In short,
> what I am suggesting is that a good research project could
> probably help develop a business plan that would offer both OA
> and revenue, the latter coming more from added services
> (exploitation of some of the computational potential of digital
> documents) than from ads - academic works, almost by definition,
> are esoteric and, therefore, run contrary to mass methods of
> financing. The result would be OA texts with some open
> computational capabilities added, and a few more retained for
> revenue purposes.
> Again, experiments like the OAPEN project can be very useful in
> this regard.
> Jean-Claude Guedon