Kudos to Rice University for its new open-access plans. The new digital archive of books sounds like a terrific boon both to scholarship and accessibility:
Because all books will be in digital form, authors can amend their tomes online, link to multimedia files elsewhere on the Internet, or even chat with readers. Books would never go out of print, and more might be published because of the press’s lower cost structure, Rice officials say. Rice officials are also considering asking authors whether they want to allow “derivatives” of their works to be created online. The Connexions site operates under an “open-source” model, letting readers update online course material.
I wonder if anyone has ranked “university press” websites for things like accessibility, samples, etc. The Princeton University Press site has a particularly generous “free first chapter” policy, which has led me to get several books from there.
My only fear (ala French anti-Google-print sentiment) is that this is one more way the “new” will eclipse the “old”…it will be so much easier to access the new books that they may unfairly eclipse the old scholarship. On the other hand, the injustice done by unnecessary inaccessibility of so many texts seems to me the larger one.