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September 1999, Week 2


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Lang Thompson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Sep 1999 20:21:19 -0400
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>the long-term).  If you make a hard copy the cost of a thesis comes to 36
>dollars (20-25 pounds), 21 dollars if you are content to keep only an
>electronic copy.  Instantly this has undercut a hardback book from a major
>academic publisher by well over 50%.  If publishers were to start offering
>academic books in electronic form at these sorts of prices, it would enable
>university libraries to vastly increase their acquisition levels, and
>publishers could also cut their overheads.  The customer only purchases

A couple of things about this:  (1) The prices here are really for
dissertations which are generally (from what I understand never having
written one myself) already very carefully edited for spelling/grammar and
are, from the ones I've seen, usually rudimentary layout/straight text with
minimal illustrations.  They're published by UMI "as is" without the next
layer(s) of editing and design that most other books require.  (2) The
long-term effects for a library are less certain.  Bound on-demand books
like these clearly wouldn't have as long a shelf life as a perfect-bound
paperback, let alone a cloth-bound book.  And at the risk of sounding too
much the Luddite, whatever their storage requirements paper books are
easily accessible for literally centuries while there's a very real chance
a CD-ROM might not be easily readable in ten years, let alone twenty or
thirty.  Add to that inevitable software compatibility (will you be able to
use a .pdf file in 2010?) and you can imagine some of the potential problems.

>More importantly, you don't have to be a Routledge or a BFI in order to
>publish an e-monograph.  With access to a few hundred pounds' worth of
>equipment and a little bit of training, anyone can.  But that raises the
>issues of peer review, publicity and distribution raised in my previous
>post, and if Jeremy's pessimistic assessment of this situation is correct,
>I think they will prove to be a major stumbling block.

Just out of curiosity how many professors use these credentials when
choosing texts for classroom use?  (As distinguished from peer review as a
professional measure which seems to be its primary function in the arts.)

Lang Thompson

Full Alert Film Review (formerly World Cinema Review)

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