Brill has announced it will offer print-on-demand paperbacks for those books that you can access digitally through your institution. In this post I will offer some comments on this news.
See here for more information: http://www.brill.com/products/books/brill-mybook
Of course this is great news. Even better is that they say they can offer this for only €25,- / $25,-, plus free shipping. We have seen Brill adopt paperbacks over the past years, and if these print-on-demand paperbacks are of the same standard as the paperbacks they have published so far, this is really good. But perhaps the price and the ‘on-demand’ feature show that these on-demand books are made differently as their previously published paperbacks. Compare for example Brockelman’s GAL, published in paperback and still costing more than €250,-. Daiber’s Bibliography of Islamic Philosophy was I think €150,-. These were great bargains, e.g. Daiber’s hardcover edition was €450,- so I was happy to see the paperback come out, but with the on-demand price of €25,- I first want to see such a book before I am convinced. Perhaps they had outrageous margins on the previously published paperbacks, or perhaps this on-demand feature is merely a teaser to get institutions to buy their BrillOnline products. Who knows. All that is important, is that we can get hard copies for a great price.
This brings us to another point. This is great news, but the BrillOnline website for books and journals is sluggish, unresponsive and downright buggy. One example is if I go to BrillOnline through my university’s proxy server, click on ‘E-books’, then click on ‘Middle East and Islamic Studies’, it returns zero products, while it should give me more than 200 results. It does not matter that much, as already the sluggishness makes me stay away from this website.
Finally, Brill still insists on calling their PDFs ‘e-books’. This is a misnomer. PDFs are simply digital versions of hard copy books. E-books are files where text and formatting are separate, usually in file formats like .epub or .mobi. Nonetheless, it is interesting to watch Brill move very slowly towards digital friendly products. It seems hard for them to shake off their traditional ways of doing business, but at least they show eagerness to adopt to the changes of our times. Hopefully I can comment at a later point about the quality of their on-demand paperbacks.