Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, October 19, 2007

Free online access for Booker-nominated novels

Man Booker Prize: Booker novels for download, The Telegraph, October 18, 2007.  (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)  Excerpt:

All the novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize could be made available online in a radical move being considered by publishers, it was reported today.

The short-listed authors for this year's Man Booker Prize

Negotiations are said to be in progress with the British Council to digitise the six shortlisted novels so they can be downloaded in full, all over the world.

It is hoped the initiative will capture new audiences - particularly in Asia and Africa - who may be unable to access the actual books.

Jonathan Taylor, chairman of The Booker Prize Foundation said the details of the plan are still being discussed. But it is thought to be linked to the 40th anniversary of the prize, which will be celebrated next year.

Those behind the venture hope it will boost, rather than detract from sales of the hard copy as readers who download the novel online, may be inspired to buy a paper version for themselves.

More than 10,000 publishers have already signed up to Google’s book-scanning project, which makes part of selected books available online. Initial results from the programme have suggested that publishing the tasters has increased sales of the books....

Comment.  I like this idea.  It echoes the recent decisions by the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics to provide free online access to the pathbreaking articles by this year's Nobel prize winners in physics.  When previously published work is recognized as important, then publishers who provide OA editions help spread important work and help secure their own reputations as publishers of important work.  In the case of science journal articles, there's very little revenue from old articles to undermine.  (I argue for this model at greater length in a 2004 article.)  And in the case of novels, it acknowledges the growing evidence that OA editions of full-text books can increase the net sales of print editions.