A few days ago, Google launched its ebook platform “Google eBooks.” And while the rest of the world is asking ‘who will win the ebook war, Amazon or Google?,’ an archaeologist must wonder ‘what exactly should the archaeological community be asking?’
For those in the field who have already familiarized themselves with the abundance of ebook literature in the Kindle store, you might already be aware of the lack of archaeological literature, or any scientific literature (or social science) for that matter. But that does not seem to be the case for the recently released Google eBookstore. With the versatility, publishing flexibilities (publisher controlled/formatted/created), and tight DRM control, publishers are quickly jumping onboard with Google, significantly more so than Amazon. But other than more Archaeological ebook content, what might the future point to with Google eBooks and the archaeological community?
Well, for both Google and Amazon [although my confidence is in Google for this one], the battle of the ebook will win the support of both the academic and the professional with the adoption of peer review journals. Peer review/academic journal eBooks will surely gain momentum in the next few years as Google or Amazon realizes the market. Imagine, subscriptions to entire journals, or selected individual papers, downloaded straight to your device. And while this can be done so through simply obtaining PDF versions of papers/journals, the formatting, bookmarking, and annotation (promised in next Google ebook update, already available on Kindle) is what peer review and education within the field needs. Not to mention it is often difficult to find papers/journals at reasonable prices if you are not affiliated with a subscribing institution/organization or your institution does not subscribe to much of the archaeological literature (most often the case).
As I said, sorry Amazon but I have confidence in Google with this one. Why? Look at Google Scholar, they are already significantly ahead of the game if you ask me. After all, how did Google eBooks start?..... content from Google Books.
Take this a step further and support a platform to replace the centuries-old static peer review system of paper, response paper, paper, and so on. After all, once published to bounded paper, your content is likely already outdated in many ways. Lets see a moderated digital system of semi-instant peer review, blog-like if you will…..
Although this [moderated digital peer-review] does not appear to be a reality anytime soon, this might be one of the many directions the digital age is taking the field. But what can be said with a little bit of confidence is that once peer review publishers begin offering their journals/papers in eBook formatting, the bounded journal’s days will be limited. Why? No printing costs, what more could you ask for when a large portion of your membership revenue goes straight to printing journals? Talk about money spent elsewhere in support of archaeology.