Update: please note this post dates from 2010. I am not sure that links or information below is accurate.
Aaaarg doesn’t exist – so says their webpage. The academic fileshare site was starting to get ‘cease and desist’ letters from publishers, and then apparently Mark Taylor of Macmillan went for them. His experience in the music industry apparently helped in the task. Fuller report here.
I heard this news on the Immanence site, which has some commentary and links…
The site has had this before – and then pops up again with a slightly different address. Go here, for instance, to see the last redirect.
I have mixed feelings about aaarg. I first came across it when Jeremy Crampton, the co-editor of Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography told me that the book had been uploaded. Given that the book was only just out, and that we’d fought quite hard to get it as paperback immediately, we were pretty annoyed by this. It was also no amateurish scan, but the file of the e-book that Ashgate themselves were selling. I wrote to aaaarg, and got a letter back saying that they would take the book down immediately if we, as authors/editors, asked for it. They said that this hadn’t happened before (I found that a little hard to believe). We decided not to request that, in part to see what happened.
Then a little while later someone told me that there was a ‘Stuart Elden essay collection’ up there. This was a zip file of 20+ pieces – mainly journal articles – of my work. This didn’t bother me at all – journal articles as pdfs are pretty easily available if you have access to an institutional library; if you don’t have such access there should be a way to get hold of stuff, perhaps after an embargo period; and I’ve always sent copies of pdfs of my work to anyone who has asked for them.
And then someone uploaded a file of Speaking Against Number. I was actually quite pleased about this. The book was originally intended to come out in paperback as well as hardback, but EUP changed their mind when it was in production. It wasn’t in the contract so I had no leg to stand on – lesson learned for future books. EUP priced the book very high – originally £55 and now it’s £65. It’s not a long book – 80,000 words, although it’s pretty dense stuff. They then said it needed to sell 450 copies before they could consider a paperback. It was never going to reach that level – library sales in north America might help to push it to c.200, and when I last asked it was approaching 300. So the book is pretty much inaccessible to most people; the royalties were always small and have now completely dried up; and like most authors – academic ones at least – I want my work to be read. So a means of having the book available to a wider audience seemed a good thing to me.
Clearly the pdf market is increasing, with the rise of interest in things like Kindles and books on i-pods and i-phones and now this new i-pad, so instead of this being a small, word of mouth operation that provided access to texts for an audience that surely comprised mainly graduate students and possibly people outside of the Western academic mainstream, it is now in danger of taking away some of the market of big business.
I’m sure it will pop up again somewhere else soon.