David Wiley has an interesting conversation with Larry Lipsitz about the changes in publishing:
In days of yore, publishing and distributing information was a capital intensive business. But it simply isn’t anymore. In my opinion, “publishers” need to understand that their value no longer comes from disseminating information. We can all do that ourselves(this list, our blogs, and print-on-demand services like lulu.com being examples). There is still value to add, however, in providing editorial services and facilitating peer review. I believe that “publishers” who think their value to the academic ecosystem comes mainly from the fact that they can get information to people (i.e., their value is in their ability to “publish”) have their eyes closed…
This is an intruging line of thinking, to me, because there is no doubt that the value of paper texts and books is changing. I’m not saying we get rid of books, but it sure feels like they are becoming more and more irrelevant from a content standpoint. (They are, however, certainly still relevant from a delivery standpoint because we’re nowhere near to the point where people are ready to give up paper.) Texts are collectors of information that get frozen in time, when you think about it. And, as I said yesterday, I really think more and more we’re going to find power in those tools that connect content rather than just collect it. Books do a cruddy job of connecting us to other content. Blogs and wikis and these other tools are all about connecting content. I think I’m just starting to fully understand how important that is.
David goes on to say that while publishers can still add value in editing and review, where they no longer have value is in disseminating the information and in the fact that they retain all of the copyrights. Read the whole thing to get a more well-rounded picture.
And there is another post brewing here…what really is the value that schools have to offer when the information they impart is freely available elsewhere?