Why I Blog

Hearing Health & Technology Matters
January 25, 2012

This week’s Hearing View is written by my blog colleague Dr. Holly Hosford-Dunn, Editor-in-Chief of Hearinghealthmatters.org. If it sounds as if it starts in the middle of a post, that’s because it does. So, first go to Holly’s latest post at Hearing Economics, entitled Aaargh!! Time for Ruthless Publishers to Walk the Plank. There you will find her insightful critique of the economics of academic publishing. 

You’ll also see how her post morphs in mid-stream into a compelling argument for the virtues of blogging. This change of direction makes the concluding section of Holly’s post a perfect addition to the continuing series of Why I Blog columns by our editors that appears from time to time at Hearing Views.   

David H. Kirkwood, Editor, Hearing Views



By Holly Hosford-Dunn

…and now we have the beginnings of a pitched battle.  Apple in Education is busy launching new textbook options for iPads. True, you must buy the iPad and purchase the textbooks at Apple’s ibooks app, but Apple points out the textbooks weigh a lot less. Not much help to starving authors, but an improvement for students.

Authors will probably like the new  iBooks Author app, which is a new platform that enables anyone to “easily create and publish their own e-books,” so long as they are creating on a Mac and so long as they understand that they can only sell their books at the iBookstore (though it’s OK for authors to give their content away free on their own web sites).

One more app, iTunes U, allows access to the “world’s largest catalog of free educational content from top universities including Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford.” The free part is a little confusing — apparently K-12 education programs get it free in a manner that enables them to “teach full courses” on iTunes U. Not sure about access for the rest of us, but I don’t have an iPad, an iPhone, or a Mac so I am limited in doing personal research on this. Anyone want to chime in on free versus costs for this content?

Looks like the Internet digital revolution is upon us and the prophesized land of free information and free texts is right around the corner–with the caveat that we must purchase and upgrade the right hardware. Maybe, but the Old Guard publishers are not running in place. Check it out.

I’ve already had the experience of purchasing e-textbooks for hefty sums. I love the portability and online ordering, but I don’t like the prices and I don’t think academic authors are seeing added value. Traditional publishers that are agile enough to ramp up quickly to e-books may even grow their profit margins by reducing overhead, increasing product accessibility, and encouraging academics to keep cranking it out.

Booksellers-as-publishers are another emerging player in this price war.  Barnes & Noble is putting its print publishing company on the market so it can focus on e-publishing. Amazon.com made its move recently to cut publishers completely out of the loop–reportedly “terrifying” them in the process. Amazon has opened its own publishing “e-house” for fiction and non-fiction. Once it expands to textbook publishing, it will be a whole new ballgame. Then we’ll see the extent to which academic writers can choose freedom of the press.

In the meantime, I am lost in the arguments, but I am not confused. No matter what these folks do to make money off of academic publishing, my own experience tells me these things are true:

  • Blogs are a great place to put new and old information for educational purposes.
  • Blogs are naturally archival. Consumers, students, and professionals can access information quickly and easily using simple search functions.
  • Blogs encourage critical thinking if they are well written, well-researched, and invite informed commentary.
  • Blogs are egalitarian. Academic and professional gated communities cannot be maintained when social media and traditional forms of information-access have equal weight.

And that’s why I am blogging instead of writing textbooks these days. I’m having fun hanging out with my pirate friends here at hearinghealthmatters.org — polishing my cudgel and getting the plank ready for publishers with big profit margins.


Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, who is in private practice in Tucson, has had a long and varied career in audiology and hearing science. After earning her doctorate from Stanford University, she did post-doctorate study at the Max Planck Institute (Germany) and the Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston), then became director of the Stanford University Audiology Clinic. Entering private practice, she developed multi-office private practices in Arizona. She has authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles and has taught Marketing and Practice Management in a variety of academic settings. 

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