16 April 2006

Open Access Books Are Like Buses...

...you wait for ages, and then three turn up at once.

Well, two at least: I wrote recently about Willinsky's The Access Principle, and now here, hard on its heels, comes Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks.

If the name Benkler is unfamiliar, you might want to glance at the suggestively-titled Coase's Penguin (yes, that penguin), which is effectively a sketch of the present book. Both, then, are about how the network changes everything, and how all the opens and the various kinds of commons that are central concerns of this blog lie at the heart of one of the most profound economic, social and political transformations seen in recent years.

But don't take my word for it, listen to what Larry Lessig has to say, with typical generosity:

This is — by far — the most important and powerful book written in the fields that matter most to me in the last ten years.

Then buy/download the thing (CC licence, of course) and read it. I know I will. The fact that I haven't yet finished its 500+ pages is not just another reason not to listen to me: it's also a further hint of why eventually all books will be freely available as digital downloads online. Basically, reading on a screen and reading text placed on a physical object are two quite different experiences, and warrant two quite different business models.

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