[-empyre-] Books And pixels

Joost Kircz j.g.kircz at hva.nl
Wed Jun 9 01:14:54 EST 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Please let me introduce my self......., and yes, I do have some sympathy 
for the devil.
I spent about 16 years as international publisher of the renowned 
physics programme of Elsevier/North Holland. Since the 2nd half of the 
80's I was involved in the first experiments that led to what is now 
Science Direct. At the final battle between stakeholders and 
stockholders (the last party won) I quitted the field and started my own 
research company on Electronic Publishing (see www.kra.nl and in 
particular publications. This web site is not fully up to date).
Since 2006, I’m “Lector” (professor or Reader) at the Univ. of applied 
sciences Amsterdam in die Media School. At present I’m working on a 
project on E-books (e-ink) and what it means for publishers. We have two 
lines: educational works and tests with city councils as that is a group 
of people who really reads. After all a e-reader is a reading device, 
not a telephone.

In principle there are the following questions to tackle:
1- The role and the integral cost price of publishing.
- A publishing house is an organiser (if you wish so an impresario) of 
human labour. This is the mistake many libraries make in thinking that 
they can outflank the commercial publishers by starting their own journals.
For a full discussion I refer to a report I wrote on digital 
repositories at academia.

At present, official money granting bodies want indicators without 
knowing about what it is all about. Hence, the whole industry on science 
indicators and bibliometric gymnastics. The idea is: if those scientists 
establish a pecking order, we just follow. It goes without saying, that 
this pecking order is highly political, not in the sense of quality 
assessment but in the choices of themes that are considered important.

The EDITORIAL work and the organisation of all this is the added value 
of a publishing house. In all circumstance this has to be done. The 
excellent scientific publishing house NAUKA of the old USSR was doing 
the same as say Elsevier, only the business model was different.

This means that also in a (full?) Electronic publishing environment 
these tasks remain essential.
This fact is true also for literary publications, even more so, now 
everybody can publish freely herself or enter into all kinds of vanity 
press operations (including Amazon). Just write a story about your 
spoiled youth, pay a ghostwriter, and presto a novel on line.

2) -With the advent of new technologies also the way we write changes. 
Haiku’s are fine on a wrist watch display. Hegel is not (I have his 
logic in German on my Irex-Iliad reader).
In fact the old discussion on hypertext is back on the agenda. Now the 
technology is creeping into the right direction (though we still don’t 
have bidirectional links in XML), see my (and my co-author Anita de 
Waard) at:

Also, the inclusion of animation, film, sound and pictures demand a new 
approach. The difference between a picture as illustration 
(illumination) to text (e.g. a pink elephant in an article on 
alcoholism) on one side and on the other side the text as explanation of 
a picture (e.g. this is a typical ulcer differs essentially in colour 
from another one).
In that sense, my interest is the question”What communication demands 
what technology”and explicitly not gee look Msword 2020 will be able to 
show the coding just as Wordperfect does.

3)- A nagging question “What is a book”
Because we call everything between two covers a book and the whole trade 
organised along those lines, this doesn’t mean that it is a book in an 
electronic environment. A telephone directory is not any more a book, an 
encyclopaedia is not any more a book. But a novel or a text book is. I’m 
working on a discussion paper on this subject. I tend to define books as 
that creative product that, in principle, has a story line that must be 
followed from a starting point to a conclusion (though as in hypertext 
and games, we might have more outcomes).

So far for an introduction.

Thursday is the first Belgian conference on E-readers (in Dutch!). I’m 
not on twitter.

Keep in touch

Joost Kircz

Dr.  Joost Kircz
Lector Elektronisch Uitgeven
Domein Media, Creatie, Informatie
Hogeschool van Anmsterdam
Rhijnspoorplein 1, 1091 GC Amsterdam
K. 03A04 , 
T. +31-20-595 1799, F. +31-20-595 1720.
M. 06 2470 9924
Zie ook: www.kra.nl 

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