Download The Universe has just been launched. Science writer Carl Zimmer is the “fall guy” (his description) – but it brings together an impressive list of leading science writers. As Carl describes its aim it will be “an online forum, featuring incisive reviews of science-themed apps and ebooks, that will serve as a guide to the future of scientific information”
Here is a list of the 15 writers involved – some you will no doubt recognise. Check out others through the links.
- Annalee Newitz
- Brian Mossop
- Brian Switek
- Carl Zimmer (fall guy)
- David Dobbs
- Deborah Blum
- Ed Yong
- Eric Michael Johnson
- Jennifer Ouellette
- John Hawks
- John Timmer
- Maggie Koerth-Baker
- Maia Szalavitz
- Sean Carroll
- Steve Silberman
- Thomas Levenson
Carl provides an interesting analysis of the evolution of books in his essay A New Kind of Review for a New Kind of Book – the first post at the site. He says:
“Ebooks are once again redrawing the boundaries. Walk into a book store and look at the science section. Most of the books are between about 200 and 400 pages. Most are created by large publishing houses. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about a 50-page book, of course. It just doesn’t fit comfortably into the publishing business–a business that has to contend with costs for printing books, storing them in warehouses, shipping them to book stores, and accepting returned books. Ebooks create an economic space for the very short book (and the very long one). They also allow authors to reach readers without having to persuade a publisher that their book will earn back an investment.”
He also talks about the new possibilities introduced by tablets.
One limitation indicated by Zimmer’s essay:
“Here we review science ebooks–broadly defined, except for ebooks that are just spin-offs of print books.”
Pity – although I guess those books probably get reviewed quite widely anyway.