I like what the folks over at Safari are looking to do with this new service. I’m just not sure how it will be received. They’re talking about making manuscripts available to readers before they’ve been technically edited or copy edited. Heck, I see enough of the complaints about technically inaccurate or poorly written books on Amazon and elsewhere, and that’s after the book has been through a full editorial pass. Imagine how high the complaint rate goes up when readers are working with raw manuscript.
It’s nothing new to make manuscripts available for public review prior to publication. We’ve done that before at Wiley and other publishers have as well. However, those reviews are typically done without charging the reader for their feedback. Based on my understanding of the Rough Cuts program, and how it is presented on the Safari site, customers will pay for this service separately from a Safari subscription.
We’re obviously talking about a fairly sophisticated target audience consisting of customers who know what they’re signing up for. Perhaps they’ll figure that the raw manuscript information is no less reliable than some of the misinformation you sometimes stumble across in a set of results from one of the major search engines.
Don’t get me wrong. Again, I love the concept, but I wonder whether enough early adopters will want to pay for it.