A time for publishers and libraries to soar above tradition and fail (if they must)

Dear reader,

As you may have noticed, the focus of No Shelf Required has been shifting in recent weeks and months. What once was a blog covering ebook news in the publishing and library market has expanded into a mission-oriented portal with the purpose of not only keeping up with the vast ebook and econtent ecosystem but also of educating, enlightening, and inspiring book professionals of all walks of life (including writers, editors, publishers, librarians, developers, etc.) to recognize the power of the written word in digital format  to transform our world into a place where access to books and knowledge is open and free to all individuals regardless of their location, affiliation, or background.

We think that it is only a matter of time before books are open to the world online the way other mediums have been ‘open’ for years (think music on youtube, news and magazine articles, etc.). But ‘open’ and ‘freely available’ does not mean that there are no financial benefits for content producers and all others in the ecosystem. It means that knowledge flows to the user with minimal or no restriction, while rewarding those making it possible. And how could that ever be possible, you ask. To that we say: have we made honest efforts to make it possible before claiming it is not? Have we pushed ourselves in the direction of innovation and disruption enough to fail and learn from our failures?

NSR is here to draw attention to not only what is happening with ebooks today but, just as important, what is clearly on the horizon for our industry tomorrow, and what’s on the horizon looks a lot like what is already happening on the Internet every day: free consumption of content. This is not to say that we don’t recognize that there is a vast and growing industry of publishers and other companies (successfully) selling books and content to libraries and individual consumers. We do, of course. In many ways, every one of us who works with books belongs to that ecosystem. But we also recognize that a shift is taking place that will soon propel us to a new way of thinking about what ebooks can do for the book industry and the society in general. Continue reading A time for publishers and libraries to soar above tradition and fail (if they must)