From my end of things, I have to say that this controversial lawsuit is defending consumers from a very real trend that is designed to make consumers pay ridiculous prices for a product that costs almost nothing to make. Apple and a whole cadre of publishers conspired to charge utterly appalling prices - in many cases the price of a hardback edition or more - for their e-books in an attempt to force Amazon to abandon their lower pricing so Apple had a better chance to dominate the book-selling market. The end result is that the publishers make record profits for a virtually free product while consumers, libraries, and universities get screwed over.
Publishers have always been unkind to libraries (They naturally oppose something that provides their wares as a free service to tax-paying citizens.), charging sinful fees for universities and libraries to subscribe to necessary periodicals while not paying the professors and librarians who contributed to those publications nearly enough to justify the price of the journals. Now libraries who have joined online consortia to share and lend out e-books are being forced to pay for those overly priced files again and again to keep them in circulation. It’s a disturbing trend that is damaging our nation’s educational system in unpardonable ways, and at a time when libraries and schools simply can’t afford to lose ridiculous amounts of money to greedy corporations.
This is one of the reasons why I love my job. After The Contemporary Pacific’s contract period (I think 1–2 years or something like that) with Project MUSE ends, many of the center’s publications are uploaded to the school’s open-access repository ScholarSpace. It is such a fabulous resource for everyone, and it’s totally free. It costs money to print and distribute physical copies, but it’s incredibly cheap to distribute online, and wide distribution of knowledge is our biggest goal as scholars. (We already accept that we’re not going to get paid tons in academia. That’s not why we’re here. ^.^) Many of us still cherish the physical copies, so that kind of support remains.
The Australia National University’s ANU E Press is another great source of free online publications.
Let’s have a big round of applause for the Pacific for totally rocking the socks off of the fair distribution of intellectual resources! Popular media is a different critter, but its distributors would do well to take notes from the dedication of these and other academic publishers. Okay, I’m done giving props to my job. :P
YAY PACIFIC!!! Your workplace is awesome, Candi!