Finding new and innovative ways to share our content with our wider audience – both nationally and internationally – is a priority for an academic publisher. The move to digital access has always been welcomed at Macmillan Education and it’s something that we actively look to encourage and be involved in. Education is the nature of our business and we want our content to be as widely distributed, read and enjoyed as possible.
There is a staunch, passionate and valid debate in publishing that steadfastly promotes the undoubted merits of print (and all that reading the printed word on paper represents), but as with anything there are always other avenues to explore and the e-book road is one we are excited about and ready to travel. In truth, we are already quite a long way into that journey.
The heart of any academic publisher is the quality content and resources it produces for its customers – this is what we are judged on, not the medium by which it is delivered. Macmillan Education is aware that publishing needs to take account of the fact that many customers will want electronic access to content, either through their library services or on individual devices (PCs, tablets, smartphones etc), though there is an ongoing learning curve for all involved, from the authors through to the editorial and production teams.
We are already involved in a number of schemes across the UK where our e-books are distributed to students in a variety of ways and the feedback has been very positive. It’s certainly popular with students and academics for all the reasons you might expect – ease of use, quick and easy access, cost and so on.
However, the attitude – particularly among students – that this content should be available for free is short-sighted. The same rules apply to online textbooks as films, music, images and so on. Macmillan Education, as with all academic publishers of note, produce educational content that is written by experts in their fields – it is reviewed, developed and designed extensively before reaching the customer. This process is what makes the difference between content that is freely available on the internet and something that has been specifically designed to be high quality, accurate and detailed for use on an academic course.
Pilots such as the one running at the University of Manchester are trailblazing, impressive and ambitious and at Macmillan Education that is what we strive to be too, so who knows where it will take us? Publishers aim to provide what their customers want, even if at present it seems that the technology needs to catch up with what they are demanding.
Ultimately we are all working towards the same goal – providing high quality, inspirational content to students and academics in whichever format is required, as quickly, easily and affordably as possible.
Rebecca Levene, Macmillan Education