Electronic books might become the ideal complement of printed books and journals in the academic / scientific world, were it not for their producers' obsession for fluidity. Fluidity (or dynamic typesetting) is a good thing as long as it includes also a static version – both for contents where original typesetting is dramatic (a table, a graph must be seen as formatted by the author) and to ensure compatibility with standard quotations, which will ever maintain the form work+page.
Should the publishing industry understand the need for inclusive fluidity, i.e. a fluidity offering the reader both to set his own parameters and to switch to the original typesetting, we would reach a much, much better integration of printed and electronic media.
In the academic print cheap, DRM-protected, individual copies of books and journals would perfectly integrate with expensive, printed copies for libraries much better than expensive PDF not DRM-protected copies do with expensive, printed copies for libraries or free PDF open access copies with printed books that do not even reach the libraries.
Cheap, DRM-protected, individual copies might become the standard of a softened, but more efficient Open access, with a much better compromise between industry and academy than temporal embargo.
Anything that costs less than 10$ /10€ /10 £ per natural unit of at least 100 pages should be accepted as complying this new gray Open access.
Keep mind to the details of my wording: to avoid being offered single papers at 10 instead of 30 $/€/£ or cheap books of two pages (already seen on …), to comply this new standard the price should apply to the same contents as sold in printed form (also to each year, non fascicle of a journal). But precisely worded to avoid tricky misinterpretations it would build a very solid standard, finally finding a technical distinction between cheap individual copies, really used by only one user at a time, and printed copies, expensive because they can be and really are so easily duplicated, within or without any legal limits to this process.
A long-term perspective or a dream? It depends only from the publishing industry's ability to understand this challenge and create inclusive fluidity.
In the short term we had republished some of our works in an electronic form, even if we actively dislike their not inclusive fluidity – at least for books with images we need a fixed layout keeping captions with images: unlike those art books, whose fluid nature stirred our strongest critic and rebuttal (the fear never to see a caption with its image!).
For some time we offered on selected days a universal, complimentary copy of a single book of every multivolume work, a single book of every coherent group of works. Nothing more. Never. Then however we already told:
Also if you like a book (say Iconography of printed bibles 1475-1900 Bereshit I, Images of 2013 or Religious-historical observatory 2013) enjoy it. If you love it, and want to read Bereshit II, Images of 2014, Religious-historical observatory 2014 buy them or have them bought by your library. Don't wait for their complimentary edition. It will never come. Not in an hundred years. If standards change, you will have the choice between a cheap electronic version and the expensive printed one – but a free electronic version won't appear before Jesus Christ's second coming.
Did we word our thought in any excessive way? I really do not believe.
Rental of electronic books, as in some, different repositories, we do not want to make any negative, and even less positive publicity – is really not for us.
We do not like that technological solution. Still too weak. Usually reviewers in the academic world, in that noble printing industry where paid reviews (again no publicity, no negative and absolutely no positive) completely disqualify anyone– in that ancient noble temple of wisdom, are allowed to hate worst books and worst solutions, even if by any chance they might be published by the same printer.
And in the electronic world? Are electronic books really books, electronic publishers really publishers, electronic authors really free, and so really authors?