Will the ipad 3 herald a change in radiology book publishing?

I wanted to revisit the topic of medical publishing, particularly radiology books, while we are eagerly waiting for the release of ipad 3 from the folks at Cupertino. I have bought radiology books on the Kindle and in the ibook store, but have found that the quality of image reproduction is still below par on the ipad and Kindle so far.

However, I believe that the next ipad will herald a change in radiology publishing in the coming months and years. With the much-awaited retina display on the ipad 3, I think the image quality will look better and  the improved graphics processing capabilities will facilitate embedding scrollable image sets from radiology studies.

I think publishers are still sceptical of the e-publishing market in the medical field. They do not have a clear plan and are trying to predict the future, which unfortunately for them looks a little bleak to say the least. Why do I say this? Well, I was asked to write a chapter on Brain Neoplasia for the new edition of Caffey’s textbook of Pediatric Radiology last year. The editors asked us to keep the text and figures down to 15 pages as the publishers were considering putting the rest of the figures and text online. Somewhere along the line, the publishers changed their mind and decided that the online portion would not be required. This change of heart tells me that the publishers are panicking and do not know how to approach the online publishing and e-book market.

Consider this- by the time Caffey’s book is published, possibly in 2013, the text we wrote in 2011 will be rather outdated and there is no way we can update the sections which are no longer relevant or are simply incorrect in the light of new studies in the area. If the book had been published electronically, we could update the text when required and there would be no outdated text in there when it was released and even if there was, an over the air update would solve the problem.

The current model where publishers give a code inside the book that one can register with to access the “extra online content” does not work- and I repeat.. DOES NOT WORK..I have more than 20 textbooks in my ofice with such codes and after registering at the publisher’s website, i promptly forget the convoluted manner in which we have to access the publishers’ website. More importantly, I have no interest in doing this when i am in the middle of reading a chapter in the book. Usually, I need this online access in my reporting suite, where having a e-book and a web search would help me more than any password protected online access.

Publishers- I urge you to get up and smell the coffee. If you do not bundle the paper edition with the e-book format, you will be soon overtaken by self publishing academics. I hate having to jump through hoops to get to a body of knowledge that is often readily available on the internet and paying separately for the e-book and the paper edition, much like paying for a CD and the corresponding mp3. And we all know what happened to the CDs in the music industry, don’t we?Image

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About Sanjay Prabhu

Pediatric radiologist working at one of the world's largest children's hospitals. I love gadgets, technology and anything with a chip in it!

Posted on March 4, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sir..i feel the way we read books is going to change dramatically…cases will be read rather than images…and yeah…publishing is due for a major revamp with technology reaching the HD zone…and i totally agree things shud be free to access..be it books, journals or cme…pure utopian living !

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