I received an email from Beth Campbell, an acquisition editor for Informa Healthcare a publisher of surgical and physician books. As I understand it, this is an imprint of Charter Publishing an old and global text publisher.
Beth wrote: "">I wonder how we can use blogging to replace/supplement current medical texts? I've been in this position for almost 20 years, and other than the fact that chapters and illustrations are now submitted electronically, NOTHING has changed in the way we deliver content,
even though EVERYTHING seems to be changing about the way people read, learn and
Good question, Beth, and one that I thought might generate some thinking from you readers, so I got Beth's permission to write my response here, rather than in email. As an author, who is between books, her question hits several of my personal nerves. Among them:
- Portions of Naked Conversations were current, when we completed Naked Conversations in August 2005, but out-of-date, when the book went into distribution in January 2006. Five months is a huge chunk of time in blogging and medical practices, but is pretty fast in publishing.
- New information worthy of comment comes up all the time in a great many fields. Publishers cannot possibly keep up with the Future Shock pace of change. Revised editions simply are not fast enough.
- The best--and most challenging questions--only come up from readers after you have published and you cannot respond to them for years, and for medical practitioners, that may be way too late.
My solution, of course, is to use social media to keep the conversation current between books. These may be in the form of a blog or a wiki. A blog can allow an author or the publisher, to keep information current, and to respond to questions that come up post publication of a book.
A wiki could be used by medical practitioners to collaborate with others in the same profession, examining new research on a subject. Likewise, audio or video broadcasts can also add to the shareing f new information.
It seems to me that all sorts of old media, newspapers, magazine and books can keep conversations current by braiding a book with blogs and other social media. Social media can become a living appendix, which may be a bad metaphor when one is discussing surgeon's journals.
Beth, I hope this helps. Does anyone else have an idea?