June 10th, 2008

Electronic Form the Norm?

Erin’s post last week brought up some interesting issues about ebooks and availability. I came across a blog post on the same day by Christopher Dawson, of ZDNET Education, about Steven Ballmer’s (Microsoft CEO) recent comments about all types of media going online in an electronic format.

Print a thing of the past…in the near future?

Dawson has an interesting point when he mentions the real challenge to this becoming a reality – the publishers’ buy-in. I.e., ensuring they can still turn the same (or better) profit.

While many publishers have warmed to the electronic format, some are still resisting. This is often the case when you use Journal Locator to search for a journal and you find that it’s available from 1995 to “1 year ago.” This is what is called a “publisher embargo.” The publisher of the journal is refusing to allow digitization of the last 12 months of publication in order to encourage libraries to maintain their print subscription.

Juicy library gossipy side note: There is discussion in the library email list-servs about rebelling against the publishers who impose embargoes. Possible rebellious actions include canceling subscriptions regardless that the previous year isn’t available in any subscription databases due to the embargo.

Interesting issue as we transition to a more digitized world. It isn’t just about people feeling comfortable with reading their newspaper online, but also about the newspaper publisher’s ability to generate revenue in the realm of electronic publishing.

-Sommer

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