The new edition of Essentials of Glycobiology, ” the largest, most authoritative volume available on the structure, synthesis, and biology of glycans (sugar chains), molecules that coat cell surfaces and proteins and play important roles in many normal and disease processes” came out yesterday. What’s particularly interesting about this edition is that it is simultaneously being released online in a freely accessible version, which will hopefully allow the textbook to reach a wider audience.
The theory often espoused is that online release of books leads to higher sales of the print edition, and for us, this is a good test case. Quoting from the press release, John Inglis, Executive Director and Publisher of CSHL Press notes that,
“We will be tracking its usage and how readers of the site respond to the availability of a print version, for both research and teaching purposes.”
“This is an innovative development in the distribution of an established textbook that we hope will benefit readers, authors and editors, and the publisher,” says Ajit Varki, M.D., the book’s executive editor and a leader of the Consortium of Glycobiology Editors, which initiated the project. Varki is Professor at the University of California, San Diego. The Consortium also includes Professors Richard Cummings, Emory University; Jeffrey Esko, UC San Diego; Hudson Freeze, Burnham Institute for Medical Research; Pamela Stanley, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York; Carolyn Bertozzi, UC Berkeley; Gerald Hart, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Marilynn Etzler, UC Davis.
This is a very interesting experiment. I knw that there are books I want to have to be able to access important data when I am not online, usually when I am writing. Being online can be distracting then.
But sometimes when I am online, I want a quick fact. Then finding them in an authoritative source is really important. I personally think that this sort of dual use could be very productive. It has been successful for some fiction works.
I too will be looking to see how well this works.