New-media watchdog Medialoper’s blog entry in June concerning the effects of digital rights management (DRM) upon books discusses a novel approach to the question of what kind of free or “preview” material book publishers should offer to online users:
“Michael Jensen of National Academies Press (NAP), a publisher of academic books and reports, described how his company has increased sales by making the full content of all of its books available for free online. While readers can easily skim a book online, quite a few actually purchase the full book from the NAP website. Jensen notes that reading online is still not an optimal experience, as a result many readers are happy to pay for a printed edition.”
While both the music industry and movie industry continue to wrestle with the legal implications of online forms of media distribution (such as file-sharing technologies like peer-to-peer, or P2P, networks), book publishers have yet to face the same level of controversy often associated with DRM. The NAP’s decision to offer unrestricted online access to its catalog is bold, but may signify a potential future direction that will account for the inherently unique properties that books possess as a media format.