April 2011 Archives

Can you Sign My Kindle?

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E-book sales are rocketing and readers appreciate the convenience of using Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other devices to store and read their favorite books. But there's a dilemma when it comes time for an author to autograph a book during an appearance. With no paper title page to sign what's an e-book owner to do?

A new company, Autography, is debuting what it calls a way for authors and artists to "personalize their work for consumers in unique ways."

A recent article in the New York Times outlined how an Autography e-book signing works. "A reader poses with the author for a photograph, which can be taken with an iPad camera or an external camera. The image immediately appears on the author's iPad. (If it's shot with an external camera, it's sent to the iPad via Bluetooth.) Then the author uses a stylus to scrawl a digital message below the photo. When finished, the author taps a button on the iPad that sends the fan an e-mail with a link to the image, which can then be downloaded into the e-book."

Sony already has a way for authors to use a stylus to sign a page on its Reader device.

Book industry watchers say this new digital way of signing books could bring more exposure and marketing potential for authors. That's because many people will post their digital author autographs on their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

This new digital development means authors and readers will have to pack combs and strike a pose when they attend their next bookstore events. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

The New York Times quotes Forrester Research as stating, "By 2015, sales of e-books in the United States are expected to triple to nearly $3 billion."

Calling All Peers

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A new project is looking at the concept and viability of open peer-to-peer review for scholarly articles. This type of review, also known by the nickname P2P, allows anyone who's interested in an academic subject the chance to weigh in on scholarly content before it's published.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently gave a $50,000 grant to New York University Press and MediaCommons. The grant money will allow the two organizations to form an advisory board of six scholars to take a critical look at open peer-to-peer review. The results will be published in a white paper.

Open peer-to-peer review differs from what may be considered the "typical peer review process" because the identities of those providing feedback are no longer anonymous. The use of anonymous reviewers has been criticized for its lack of accountability and possible bias.

Open peer-to-peer review is generating quite a bit of interest in the humanities lately, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle highlighted an instance where the Shakespeare Quarterly opened itself up to an open peer-to-peer review for its special issue on Shakespeare and new media. The review apparently went well and the journal is trying it again in an upcoming issue examining Shakespeare and performance.

A press release from New York University Press quotes the dean of the Division of Libraries, Carol A. Mandel, as stating, "Peer review is considered the backbone of academic publishing. It is the vetting process for the selection of publishable works and the means by which scholars offer critical feedback prior to publication. However, scholars today connect with their peers via the Internet, and they naturally want to extend their online networks to the peer review process."

The release from the New York University Press did not give a deadline for the White Paper publication but stated the results will "of course be made available for open peer review."

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