beyond eBooks

The ineluctable modality of the digital is just getting started. Where it will go from here was the subject of this panel. Authors and colleagues at other u presses experimenting with new ways to create and interrelate scholarship; Harry Potter-style daily newspapers, with freely embedded videos in text taken as read, portal books and animated archives taken up for discussion.

Chair David Schiffman’s description and opening remarks framed the session well. Schiffman reminded us that following any fundamental shift, there is a period of an “evolutionary” reaction. eBooks are such an example. “Revolutionary” adaptation begins a pace beyond. We are entering the revolutionary period of adaptation: digital education, digital scholarship, primary interactivity. Per Schiffman, the revolution will be digitized or rather the digital will lead to revolutionized temporality and forms of scholarly publishing and revolutionized roles for authors and scholarly publishers. The changing landscape requires new skills; however, higher value (ROI for academe) rests in new solutions. We should equip ourselves accordingly.

Quotable moment: “Many eBooks are trivial interpretations of the medium of e.” – Jeffrey Schnapp

Schnapp was a great addition; having an active scholar on hand, who is both participating in and analyzing the phenomena of change being discussed, contextualized and grounded presentations. Schnapp is “writing to the design” of digital environments. He feels roles are increasingly porous, collaborative scholarship is on the rise, and the notion of authorship may need a revisit. He emphasized the fundamental shift in the temporality of publishing. And finally, noting the nascent trends and the infrastructural (institutional) commitment required, Schnapp says there is a need for a “risk-friendly approach to scholarship” moving forward.

Marguerite Avery, Senior Acquisitions Editor, MIT Press, and Sylvia Miller, Project Director “Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement," University of North Carolina Press, illustrated much of what Schiffman and Schnapp with detailed reports on the moving parts of their digital initiatives.

All participants invited contact. For further reading, the AAUP Digital Publishing Committee publishes important e-pub news on The Digital Digest, here.