Thursday 24 July 2008

To be or not to

We have published online, extracts from our latest catalogue for the exhibition Turuki Turuki! Paneke Paneke! on the exhibition page of the website. There is mixed thoughts on this with some uncertainty as to whether this will increase or decrease revenue. Should a smaller or larger selection of the catalogue be included?

Obvously, being a big fan of online publishing, I believe it is a good thing and personally it does entice me to buy as i still love the 'real thing'. However, as i know i am biased, I'd be interested to know how any of you out there feel about this.

Does publishing part of a catalogue online entice you to buy?

Does publishing the whole catalogue online stop you from having to buy the catalogue?

What do other art/museum institutions do?

If anyone has any research/links/thoughts on this send them my way. I'd be very grateful.

(Click here or the image above to view the catalogue online)


Courtney Johnston said...

Hey Sarah

I'm a fan of online publishing too (even if it's just the texts and not the plate sections).

I'd make a comparison to libraries and photocopies. Publishers don't stop copies of their books appearing in libraries because people will able to access them there without buying them. And a photocopy from a book will, like a print out of a PDF, provide you with a record of the info you're after, but not the experience - or ease of use - of the actual book.

Buying a book, I think, is about pleasure and convenience. Either you love it as a thing, or you think having your own copy will be more convenient than having to track it down in a library (or, I guess, both).

There's a theory (possibly librarian legend) that opening a library near a bookshop will actually increase that shop's sales, not depress them. Maybe giving people access to your catalogues online will do the same - give them a chance to get familiar with the item, and increase their desire to have it for themselves.

Oh - was just about to sign off, but then thought of another thing - publishing online makes your scholarship available to people all over the world - not just people who live near a shop where your catalogues are stocked. A bonus for researchers, and if the book's good, it possible way of enhancing your reputation.

Sarah Eades said...

Hi Bestof3

Great comment, i totally love the analogy about opening a library next to a book shop increases sales. That’s one that I will be using myself. I remember in Museums and the Web this theory being mentioned by someone who wrote a book and battled with the publisher to put it online. When he did it increased sales as the word about the book spread. I can’t for the life of me remember who it was though.

I do believe that it’s about the word of mouth spreading and as you mentioned, online reaches a far wider audience than the physical book in a shop.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with bestof3, and personally if I can see a publication online it is more likely that I will order a copy for my own collection. It is less likely if I only get the chance to see the catalogue in the gallery (not my favourite place to stand and browse through catalogues)or in a decent bookshop, which is not something I get alot of time to do. With life and work keeping me very busy I find the internet is a useful and time saving place for me to research in my spare time, and the more content I can get on something, the more I find that I will actually make an effort to go out and see it for myself. I think the internet serves to enhance our awareness of what is available.