Looking to exploit the full potential of electronic publishing, Princeton University Press is using its e-book program to launch an e-book series that will allow its authors to quickly respond to reviews, critics, readers or new research after their books are first published.
Ursula Bollini, director of electronic business development at PUP, told PW that in addition to publishing more than 500 backlist titles as e-books, the press plans to focus on publishing 10 to 12 titles a year as Digital Books Plus. DBP titles will be topical frontlist titles offered initially as an e-book, then released in print with identical content about two months later. Once the frontlist e-book and print title are released, the press will follow up with a shorter e-book (in most instances for free), a supplement to the original edition that will allow the author to address critics, media attention or any subsequent questions or debate spurred by the book's original publication. Bollini also points to assistance from Microsoft and Amazon.com, which will be selling the books. PUP e-books will be available in all the major e-book formats.
The program allows readers to engage authors, and the authors can update their books as the topic they are addressing develops. "It's a natural extension of what university presses do," said Bollini. "We want to generate debate, to take a static publication and use e-books to create a lifeline." The books released through DBP will generally have their own Web sites, and Bollini said the press is in discussions with a range of topical sites to host discussion boards around related books. Purdy, publicity director at PUP, told PW that the site will "establish online forums to talk to authors about their issues" and the press hopes to "incorporate these responses from readers" into the subsequent DBP e-book.
The first book in the series, Republic.com by Cass Sunstein, a look at the impact of the Internet on the nature of a democratic society, was released in March. The book has generated interest and discussion on Salon.com and on Slashdot.com, which offers news and commentary geared toward the technical community. In June, PUP will release Breaking the Deadlock by Richard A. Posner, an examination of the controversy surrounding the 2000 election.
"There is a real hunger out there for an e-book program that not only delivers information, but allows readers to participate and shape important issues addressed in books," said Bollini. "We'll be providing a living book that has a value-added quality," she said. "That's exciting." For information, visit the PUP Web site at www.pupress.princeton.edu.