JEP: The Appropriateness Matrix Sidebar to: COST RECOVERY AND DESTINY

Appropriate Technologies

Dealing with the Loss of Limits

Without the limits imposed by the (old) print technologies, how do publishers (and authors, and audiences) choose what is appropriate?
copyright 1998 Michael Jensen

Appropriate Technologies

Digital Format*

Page Image

Good: Fast, cheap, easy, certain of design, integrates well with existing process

Bad: Not improvable, not "chunkable," static, hard to index, hard to link to or from, retains page as conceptual model

"Raw" HTML

Good: Fast, cheap, easy (from WP file), easily indexed by search engines

Bad: Usually not pretty, "chunkable" as chapters only, may see higher expectations ("why not better"?)

Enriched HTML

Good: Fairly easy with minimal investment; easily indexed by outside world; can often be done by typesetters at minimal cost; tailoring for content possible

Bad: May face higher expectations; some learning curve; some unpredictable new challenges

XML Content Coding

Good: Flexible, extensible, future-enhanceable, self-defining

Bad: More costly (now), requiring higher quality control, new skill sets

* Medium—as in CDROM or Web—is ignored as an issue.

Appropriate Technologies

Publishing Purposes

Spread Content

Priorities: Lowest reasonable denominator browsers, inexpensive production, externally indexable, standards-based, easy to interconnect

Dismissables: Fixity of design? graphical nuancing? intricacy of interface?

Recover Costs (Profit)

Priorities: Reproducible & extensible production sequence, minimum of labor-intensive steps, highly flexible, rapid to enhance, easy to update, easy to index, easy to secure/ identify in "chunks" for chunk resale

Dismissables: Browser level issues? Standards? Startup cost? Integration with outside world? Customer requirements paramount.

Impress Authors

Priorities: Image, flash, cleverness, sound & light, spin; uniquely appropriate/developed interface to content

Dismissables: Cost, time, browser, bandwidth, audience

Appropriate Technologies

Content Demands

Deeply Read Work

Priorities : Easy to carry, comfortable to eye, dependability of authority, etc.

Speed of transmission, interconnections with other content

Browser Forage

Priorities: Ease of access, speed of access, degree of integration with rest of world

Dismissables?: Depth of content, quality of interconnections, degree of authority

Reference Work

Priorities: Index strength, ease of customer use, authority of material, consistency of interface

Dismissables?: Portability, flash, eye-ease, readability duration

Appropriate Technologies

Personnel Demands

Single Specialist

Advantages: Consistency, coherence, focus, middling expense, likely enthusiasm & "weekend work"

Disadvantages: All eggs in one basket, idiosyncracy of structure, specialist can be bought/ enticed away, tunnel vision, ego-bound

Little o' Everyone

Advantages: Less expensive (using "excess time"), higher stability (more baskets)

Disadvantages: Herding cats, consistency of structure, weak links, non-coherent presentation, internal pettinesses

Specialized Staff, Outsourcing

Advantages: Professionalism, consistency & repeatability, coherent expansion route

Disadvantages: Expensive, possibly less direct control, knowledge required to manage

Appropriate Technologies

Publisher Options


Advantages: Validation, professionalism, predictable quality, better marketing & distribution, copyediting, possible royalties

Disadvantages: Rejections, loss of control, possible delay, peer review/revision


Advantages: Rapid, cheap, full control, potential full profit

Disadvantages: Necessarily amateur at marketing, promotion, distribution, etc.; archiving considerations, intrinsic distrust may prevent links-to

Vanity Online or Paper

Advantages: and BookInTime doesn't know (or care) that you're a dog, etc.

Disadvantages: Cost, potential prejudice against "vanity press," no external validation (rapidly diminishing as concerns)

Publishing Contractor/ Agents

Advantages: and BookInTime don't care what you are. A smart agent/ contractor could also do online marketing etc.

Disadvantages: Cost, no print/external validation, history of other validating publications

Association / Grey Lit

Advantages: Institutions, organizations, associations, etc. have the available expertise to judge quality. Bonafide imprint of quality

Disadvantages: Potential cronyism, potential prejudice in tenure decisions, no "marketplace validation"

Appropriate Technologies

Print Format

Offset Print, then Distribute

Advantages: For 1000+ pb, 500+ cloth, lower unit cost, higher quality. Better halftone quality. Better customer response.

Disadvantages: Risk of 90% left in warehouse ("bound greenbacks"). Cost of distribution

Just-In-Time micro-runs

Advantages: Predictable costs, few warehousing issues, advantages of "in-house" distribution control

Disadvantages: Lower quality; no clothbound; "big win" difficult; requires technical infrastructure

Distribute, then Print (DocuTech, etc.)

Advantages: At lower runs, lower unit costs; flexible "on-demand" individual publications, no warehouse overruns (even no warehouse)

Disadvantages: Lower quality; no clothbound; harder "big win" (cost never declines to price of paper); may require technical infrastructure

Print + Electronic Hybrid

Advantages: Color & expanded material can be on website or CDROM, print-appropriate material in book form

Disadvantages: Archival fears of librarians, necessity of continuous attention; what happens in 2504?

Appropriate Technologies

Context Choices

Stands Alone

Advantages: Individualism, pride, royalties

Disadvantages: Easy to be missed (60,000 titles printed/year; 60,000,000 Web pages/year)

Into Larger Context (Muse, CIAO, CogNet, SCAN, etc.)

Advantages: Larger audience, forward/backward linking, individual and group value, "reflected light"

Disadvantages: Loss of individuality, loss of "journal identity," less "editorial touch" on specific articles/chapters

Into Largest Context (Full text freely available)

Advantages: Huge audience, volunteer advertising/linking, likely author pleasure, potential print sale to browsers

Disadvantages: Fear of lost sales, possible "imprint decay," potential of raised expectations (why not all your backlist?)