A coalition of four university presses have banded together to look into creating a collaborative ebook program.
In separate announcements, a coalition of four university presses have received a planning grant to study the feasibility of a collaborative scholarly e-book program, and the University of Chicago Press announced a multi-faceted program to make 700 e-books available immediately.
A coalition of presses from New York University, Rutgers, Temple and the University of Pennsylvania, plan to use a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to hire a technical consultant for a six-month study looking at the feasibility of a collaborative scholarly e-book publishing program. The new program will focus on studying the particular needs of university presses and their library partners. (A spokesperson for Temple Univ. press noted that TUP plans to immediately release 50 new e-books that are not a part of this announcement or coalition study.)
The coalition of presses plans to study how to bring together a wide variety of university presses of different sizes—a minimum of ten presses at launch—in an e-book publishing program that would launch with at least 10,000 e-book titles and add five to 10 new UPs each year over 5 years. According to the details of the grant, the new program would focus on the library market and then on supplying e-books to students as well as looking at variety of payment/delivery models—from purchase/subscription to rental models, bundling and POD.
Ebooks are finally becoming popular enough that university presses are taking note. The popularity of Amazon.com's Kindle, the Sony ebook reader and the impending launch of the Plastic Logic reader have all lit a fire under the scholarly presses.