Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Digital Revolution

Today we'd like to share a message from our Executive Director, Gary H. Dunham.


It’s high time to speak again about the digital revolution. Dizzying advances in digital communication technologies make it an extraordinarily promising time to be a publisher. At the start of the second decade of the twenty-first century, our authors are sharing their creativity and scholarly research with readers through a wide array of means and media, only one of which is the printed book. As I have often said, those publishers who cling only to the printed book often are not standing in the same room where authors and readers are holding conversations. It’s time to move to where the information flow is taking place.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore an elegantly designed, printed book—a real, bound narrative that’s portable, acquires a wonderfully vintage smell over time, carries the marks and moments of its owner, and looks so right on a shelf. Printed books will not and should not go away, but they are part of a richer, more dynamic world of information sharing nowadays. It is our responsibility as a publisher to track closely and understand the evolving, myriad ways that authors and readers connect, and to offer a range of choices to both facilitate that communication and enhance the worldwide visibility and accessibility of SUNY Press publications. You deserve that attention and vision from a university press, and so do the lives, peoples, topics, issues, and histories that we share through publications.

Embracing the latest in digital communication technologies is thus a key cornerstone of SUNY Press’s long-term strategic plan. Many of the strategic initiatives and partnerships necessary to carry out this transformation are in full swing, and let me mention some of them here. Our seasonal catalog is now primarily issued as an online, interactive edition. All new titles and a growing number of our backlist are offered in XML, the most versatile and powerful digital platform available. We’re making huge strides towards realizing our dream of a largely virtual warehouse. Each new scholarly monograph published by SUNY Press is available simultaneously in an eco-friendly and affordable DirectText electronic edition. The press’s new journals and conference proceedings dissemination programs are also digitally based, allowing purchasers the freedom and flexibility to buy a digital or print-to-order copy of the whole volume, an individual chapter, or bundles of chapters. We have also aggressively pursued partnerships with a host of online partners in order to maximize the presence of our publications on the Web: NetLibrary and ebrary offer thousands of SUNY Press titles to libraries; Amazon's Kindle now features SUNY Press best sellers, with thousands more soon to be available; Barnes & Noble currently offers over 1,000 SUNY Press e-books, with thousands more on the way. And Google currently makes available thousands of SUNY Press books on Book Search, all of which will soon be sold also through the revolutionary Google Editions program. Wherever you look for a book on the Web, nowadays you are very likely to run into a SUNY Press publication.

Whew! There’s much going on here, digital-wise, and so much more in the works. Stay tuned!

Until next time,

Gary H. Dunham
Executive Director