I’ve been catching up on library blogs I haven’t had time to read for the past month, and Steven Cohen’s Library Stuff is at the top of that list at the moment. An entry he made several weeks ago struck me because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Steven wrote:
“The great thing about my customized Amazon feeds (made via On Focus) is that I get upcoming books on the subjects I want delivered into my aggregator (I have 4 of them set up). The bad thing is that I sometimes have to wait 6 months for a book to be published.”
He went on a bit more, and then wrote:
“Sometimes it’s painful to be on the cutting edge, always waiting for the new thing to arrive.”
So true. It’s even more painful when that cutting edge is quite dull once the book is published, as I discovered not too long ago. That’s one reason why I like blogs so much, and why I enjoy reading blogs written by folks like Steven who are out there, keeping tabs on the cutting edge both for their own interests and for the rest of us.
Books, as much as I love them, are often not as relevant as they could be once they get published. The same can be said for many journal articles. These mediums are best for exploring topics in depth, rather than introducing interested individuals to new things. However, I think that these mediums could become much more functional for cutting edge information dissemination (scholarly communication, anyone?) if the time frame and technology used was modernized. Some journal publishers have figured this out and now provide articles in print on their websites for subscribers. Some book publishers like O’Reilly have begun providing open access books on their websites. Maybe one solution to the timeliness problem would be to provide downloadable copies of final edits waiting for the press for those who are willing to pay for the ebooks just to have them several months earlier than they would have if they waited for the print copies? We know those books must be ready to go, since they send out review copies well in advance of official publication.