En route to a professorship of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin, Clay Spinuzzi published scholarly monographs with the MIT Press 2003 and Cambridge University Press 2008. Last January, right on schedule, he brought out a third book, Topsight: A Guide to Studying, Diagnosing, and Fixing Information Flow in Organizations. His publisher this time? Himself.
Using the Amazon CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and a couple of thousand dollars in freelance graphic design and copy-editing, Spinuzzi will make back his financial investment after 300 copies are sold. That’s because he’ll earn exceptionally high royalties: Around $7 for every digital copy, a little more for each print-on-demand paperback. If he sells just 1,500 copies, he’ll earn $10,000. If he gets to the academic equivalent of best-sellerdom—15,000 copies—he’ll easily clear more than $100,000.
Those numbers flow from Amazon’s revolutionary royalty structure. For self-published e-books priced under $2.99 or more than $9.99, Amazon pays a 35-percent royalty. But for those priced between those benchmarks, authors can clear 70 percent for themselves. The sweet spot is designed to keep prices within the range that traditional publishers expect for mass-market and many trade paperbacks—and to keep Amazon from underpricing its own traditional wares.
Later in the piece,
Of course, even in the narrower world of textbooks and other works for lay or crossover readerships, the possibility of a cash payout isn’t the only advantage to self-publishing. Spinuzzi cites swift turnaround, freedom to experiment, and greater creative control of layout, images, and content: “I got away with a lot of things that traditional publishers wouldn’t allow,” he says. “Something as small as referencing Scooby-Doo can really set the tone for a book, making it friendly and accessible, and I didn’t want to give that up.”
In the end, those advantages may have more and more influence upon young scholars, for whom the digital-humanities movement has begun to at least modestly undermine the centrality of the monograph in scholarly communication.
Today’s digital humanists increasingly share not only the apex of our analysis but all the constituent elements of our research—unedited oral history in various languages, for instance; edited, arranged, and translated clips; slides; searchable raw data; sorted data; collected primary texts; annotations of primary texts; and so on. This digital, multimodal, social, dynamic scholarship is truly unsuitable for (merely) print, as Jerome J. McGann and others at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities proved long ago with projects like the Rossetti Archive and the Sixties Project.
I am excited to be experimenting with some of the tools/technologies as I finish up my dissertation over the next few months.
TED is the latest to directly jump into the education market — offering something for those looking for online learning, open source edu, uncollege, hack edu, or any other angle on disrupting education. They are calling on top educators to step up and join in with a short lesson to share with the world. TED clearly has some understanding of what video learners want (its why I am videoing my research interviews and other events for remixing later into edu assets). From the Wired Campus column at the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The nonprofit group called TED, known for streaming 18-minute video lectures about big ideas, today opened a new YouTube channel designed for teachers and professors, with videos that are even shorter.The new channel, called TED-Ed, was announced a year ago, but its leaders are only now unveiling the project’s first videos. There are only 11 as of today, but the goal is to add new ones regularly. Within three months from now, a new video could appear each day, said Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, in a conference call with reporters late last week.To produce the new videos, the group is connecting content experts with professional animators to create highly illustrated productions. The average length of these videos is about five minutes, and Mr. Anderson said he envisions a teacher playing one in class at the start of a lesson “to ignite excitement” about the topic.
Trouble on the technology transfer front from the University of Texas. I will have to learn more, but here is the one line pitch — uber successful California biotech researcher Richard Miller is lured to Texas to lead the way as the first commercialization chief, but quickly runs into conflict of interest issues for being too entrepreneurial! From Kirk Ladendorf at the Austin Statesman.
Miller, a veteran biotechnology researcher and entrepreneur in California, went to work for UT in September 2010 to help turn more of the school’s research discoveries into new jobs, companies and licensing income. As part of his job, he oversaw the work of the Office of Technology Commercialization, which assists companies that are interested in using patented UT technology and negotiates licensing deals with them.
Miller resigned effective Dec. 31 after he was told by UT officials that he could not have a personal and financial involvement in companies that might want to license technology developed at UT.
UT generated $25.6 million in licensing revenue in the most recent fiscal year and completed 29 new licensing and options agreements, according to the commercialization office’s website. The school also received 58 U.S. and foreign patents last year.
Juan Sanchez, UT’s vice president of research, said there was no active conflict of interest with Miller’s involvement with the companies because they had not yet licensed technology from UT. However, Miller “was setting up a scenario in which he would be negotiating with himself, and that would have been a conflict of interest, which we would not allow,” Sanchez said.
“We couldn’t move forward with his expectation of having a dual role” with the companies, Sanchez said. “It was clear that he would have to divest his interest. The resignation was his call. I would have liked him to remain as chief commercialization officer, but he chose not to.”
Sanchez said he instructed Miller in December to divest his interests in three startup companies that he had co-founded with UT faculty members and graduate students. Miller did divest his holdings in the three companies — Wibole, Graphea Inc. and Ultimor — but resigned sometime after that discussion, Sanchez said.
Get the most out of university technology transfer is a common cry, its no wonder we are running into scenarios such as this.
Over the past decade, UT has stepped up its efforts to generate more revenue from technology licensing. Part of the reason is faculty pressure and recruitment of top-level researchers. Both new recruits and existing research faculty have pressed the school’s administration to take a more proactive role in tech commercialization.
Pike Powers, an Austin lawyer and veteran economic development activist, said Miller brought new ideas to UT but might not have understood the constraints of working for a public university.
“He was offering some new ideas and thoughts about ways that the University of Texas could be more competitive,” Powers said. “I don’t think he received as strong a reception as he wanted to receive, so it was frustrating for him. He met with numerous members of the business community, and we advised him to be very careful about what steps he took next and to make sure he had the full support of the business community and the UT administration. But I don’t think he ever heard that message to the extent that he should have.”
What I find interesting is that people are looking for entrepreneurial leaders, but they also demand consensus. That is a little backwards no?
Some interest debate surrounding the funding and mission of government funded research is taking place in the wake of Minister for State Universities and Science David Willetts speech on making the UK the global science research leader. Professor Stephen Curry provides great coverage of the debate in the Guardian:
Willetts’ musings on role of government in directing science were more interesting, and included some practical ideas for how ministers might effectively access scientific expertise in order to guide research investment. He was careful to emphasise the sanctity of the Haldane Principle and peer review, which enshrine the rights of the scientific community to judge grant applications on scientific merit. Nevertheless, the minister did not shy away from the conundrum that he has a democratic responsibility to shape policy that is beneficial to the UK economy. Such strategic choices will necessarily colour views on research priorities.
The scientific community should be heartened to hear a government minister speak so confidently of the potential of science to feed into economic growth. It was an argument that the community relied on in the run-up to the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010. But scientists remain wary of government interference in what some see as their exclusive domain. Coincidentally, evidence of that wariness was provided in letters from leading scientists to Times Higher Education and the Daily Telegraph in the days following the speech, which criticised what they perceived as excessive interference by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in the process of awarding public money for science. The signatories to the letters were particularly critical of strategic decisions by EPSRC to focus on particular research areas, to judge the potential long-term impact of the proposed research in assessing applications and demanded rebalancing of decision-making power away from EPSRC officials and back to scientists.
Just read an interesting piece about University of Cincinnati’s efforts to offer more entrepreneurial opportunities to students and faculty in its engineering programs. (h/t tto2newco).
Apparently Dean Carlo Montemagno of the College of Engineering and Applies sciences is an educational innovator at UC. From the Enterchange:
He soon will launch an Entrepreneurial Innovation Center, too. In recent interviews, Montemagno revealed to the Enquirer the first details of a university initiative to create high-tech, high-paying jobs and drive economic development in this region.
Likely to open at the Edgecliff campus in Walnut Hills, the innovation center will give his college’s 140 professors and 4,300 students access to workshops, mentors, lab space and an engineering accelerator program to help build and launch businesses.
A new entrepreneurial sabbatical allows professors a year away from teaching in order to start their companies.
Eventually, all three efforts will be open to faculty and students in other UC colleges.
“The idea is to remove the wall between discovery at universities and implementation in the economy,” Montemagno says. “It ensures the relevancy of the research to fit the needs of the economy.”
From a recent university press release on the entrepreneurial initiatives:
University of Cincinnati officials today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to increase the level of technology commercialization in Southwest Ohio.
Signing the MOU between UC and the Hamilton County Development Corporation were Santa Jeremy Ono, UC provost and senior vice president; Carlo Montemagno, dean of UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science; and David Main, president of the Hamilton County Development Co., Inc. (HCDC) and Hamilton County Business Center, Inc.
The non-binding MOU intends to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) by promoting the creation of technical businesses based on the research achievements of faculty, students and staff. This enterprise is expected to encourage the creation, development and growth of innovative ventures by leveraging the combined strength of UC’s technology expertise and HCBC’s entrepreneurial assistance services.
I have been looking and I see no mention of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati in any of the materials discussing these recent initiatives.
I received a marketing email from FrugalDad.com sharing an infographic they put together on patents. The Problem with Patents infographic is based on an NPR story so it clearly has a point of view. The involvement of major research universities and technology leaders such as Stanford, Texas, and University of Pennsylvania is what has piqued my interest. From Jason at Frugal Dad: