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The cost of Reference Materials - a creative idea

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I wanted to know what information was available on one of the eBook websites when I happened on . I discovered a major eBook publisher who will sell you as much as you want - or should I say, as little as you need. While we have been debating copyright legalities and why the cost of information is skyrocketing, I've discovered that some has been listening to some of the ideas we have been throwing around - unfortunately it is not someone in the engineering field as yet. Maybe the professional trade, code and material organizations can learn from a good idea and, in the process, be more considerate of those in the industry who are not born in a 20+ person office but who start their climb to the top in their homes or garages.
This is the story of eBooks who is willing to let you grab information from the books that they represent and to compile the information into what they term an ePack and to pay, proportionally, for the information contained in your ePack. In a very simplistic example, they may take a professional book selling for $100.00 with 20 chapters and price each chapter at $5.00.  If the engineer uses only four of the 20 chapters, he pays $20.00 rather than $100.00.
So what about referenced material from other chapters. Okay, there must be a solution that works - raise the per chapter price sufficiently to include those portions of other chapters which are referenced - say $25.00 including the referenced sections.  How difficult can establishing hyperlinks to appropriate references and creating the ePack at the time you are ready to purchase the materials. You have control, not the publisher who can establish a prices - "take it or leave it".
So who loses? I don't think those who run out to purchase an entire code will stop doing this. However, those who borrow codes or manuals or reference them as they need in local University campuses will likely spend the money as a convenience for not having to leave the office to obtain the information needed on the current project. This increases revenue for organizations - it will not reduce it. If the loss of income were a factor, I don't believe that eBooks would be risking so much to offer ePacks as a way to compile only the information you need. Here is what they say in their help files about Photocopy replacement for the distribution of chapters to students in a classroom:
"How can an eBook that I've downloaded be used in teaching materials for university-level classes?

If there are books from which you want to select a section or chapter, you can bundle them into an ePack and refer your students to They can then individually log on and download the bundle. But they each need to pay for the ePack -- as they would if they photocopied the relevant pages. The difference here is that the money goes to the author and publisher, rather than to copier maintenance companies.
In time, we expect to be able to offer multiple-user, or site licenses.

Our current small inventory is really just a proof of concept and it's unlikely that you'll find more than one or two titles of interest right now; but we'd be delighted if you did make an ePack. Let us know how you get on. "

I believe it is a very good marketing plan. In fact, I am likely to use the eBooks service because of it.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
Structural Engineering Consultant
structures(--nospam--at) <
(208) 361-5447 E-Fax
ICQ #95561393