The Charkin Blog went silent 8 months ago, and there have been rumours that it will soon appear in print. The rumour was confirmed when we received a request for permission to include a snapshot, originally taken from our web site, so that the thumbnail (of a Berkshire Publishing reference work) could appear in the book publication. The email requesting permission was very polite and of course we promptly granted permission. This is how the project was described.
"In September 2008 Pan Macmillan will publish Charkin Blog: the Archive, by Richard Charkin, an edited print-on-demand version of the blog he published at http://charkinblog.macmillan.com/default.aspx while chairman of the company."and they asked for blanket permission in all territories. But there was no mention of digital rights, so does this mean that there will not be a digital edition? I hope not, since I am a great believer that anything that is worth printing is worth having in digital format. On the other hand I am more of a believer of exact editions where the digital editon exactly matches the print edition: can an exact edition go in the other direction? How can one compensate for all the missing links, the immediacy of navigation etc? We intend to buy the book to find out.
The Charkin blog was a very good read while it lasted, it will be interesting to see if it can work in volume form. Of course, Macmillan as a large publisher would take the permissions issue very seriously, but can you imagine how many permissions emails they will have had to generate? It is a reminder that blogs just could not exist if every blog re-usage required permission. Publishing and blogging on the web thrives because the reins are a little bit looser. Publishers who insist that copyright issues must all remain 'opt in' (ask before you use) rather than 'opt out' (if you object I will take down) are living without the web.