Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Digital Only Monograph?

The University of Michigan Press has announced that it will shift its scholarly publishing from being primarily a traditional print operation to one that is primarily digital. They now plan to migrate some 90% of their monographs to digital only renditions over the next two years but enabling readers still to be able to get a physical copy by print on demand.

University presses are experiencing challenging times and are adapting and changing. In the US The University of Missouri Press and the State University of New York Press have announced layoffs and Utah State University Press is facing the removal of university support.

Michigan clearly see the glass half full and potential. The process is less expensive, faster and offers obvious savings in printing and distribution, but offers the opportunity to publish more works and distribute them electronically to a broader audience. Digital also offers the opportunity to market the content, create digital inspection copies and reviews and thereby reduce waste and cost. Books that may have been classed as economically marginal or deemed not worthy from a scholarly perspective can now be reconsidered.

Interestingly and refreshingly in today’s climate the shift is claimed not to be designed to save money, but to make better use of the money being spent on the press and no jobs will be eliminated.

In terms of pricing, Michigan plan to develop site licenses so that libraries can gain access to all of the press's books over the course of a year for a flat rate. This is a similar approach to that being explored by Duke University Press, whose e-Duke Books, provides digital access for a one-year period at a flat rate.

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