Re: Death of the Book?

From: Colin Steele <>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 02:15:03 +0100

The attached article will be published in Learned Publishing (UK) in
April 2003, their issue Volume 16, No 2. Under the agreement with Learned
Publishing the article has been deposited in the ANU E-Press Archive at:

"There is significant evidence that traditional university presses are
continuing to face financial crises. Outlets for research monographs
are drying up, print runs are being reduced and monograph costs are
increasing. The combination of the digital networked environment
and open archive initiatives may, however, provide the opportunity,
through institutional repositories, to rethink the role and nature
of the distribution of research monographs in a University setting.
The adoption of new models, untrammelled by the structures of the
past, while still retaining editorial and refereeing standards, could
revolutionise the access and distribution patterns of research knowledge
within university frameworks. Ultimate success will depend however
on programs of scholarly advocacy in scholarly communication with the
academic author as both creator and as consumer."

One interesting aspect is how the new models for consortial monograph
acquisition, eg Oxford Scholarship Online will replicate, although
hopefully not in price, the models of serial acquistion including indexing
and abstracting of chapters. Long term impacts on ultimate monograph
narrative writing should be interesting to monitor and the impact on the
independent scholar. In the past the latter could walk into libraries and
read a book, but on the subscription model, only authenticated users will
gain access to the content. Walk-in privileges should be interesting.

Similarly libraries will face increasing problems in terms of explaining
to their users the variety of access mechanisms of E-Book offerings by
commercial publishers and their need to "lock up text" in a variety
of models to maximise profits in the monograph area (replicating the
serials situation).

The institutional repository developments - 2003 has seen the
establishment of the ANU and Monash E-Presses - will include a whole
variety of offerings like California E-Scholarship, ranging from
free-to-air to refereed on-line monographs. It may now be time to devote
more focused collective attention to consideration of the developing
monograph situations as well as serials in the digital environment?

Colin Steele
Director Scholarly Information Strategies
Division of Information
W.K. Hancock Building (043)
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200

Tel +61 (0)2 612 58983
Fax +61 (0)2 612 55526

Library Web:
Received on Mon Mar 31 2003 - 02:15:03 BST

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