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section heading icon     Studies

This page provides an introduction to books, reports and journals concerned with electronic publishing. Other parts highlight particular studies, eg on digital libraries and the pricing of electronic publications accessed over the web. (Separate guides cover questions of authentication, digital rights management, payment systems and other matters.)

     overviews

Starting points for understanding electronic publishing include -

Internet Publishing & Beyond: The Economics of Digital Information & Intellectual Property (Cambridge: MIT Press 2000) edited by Brian Kahin & Hal Varian - proceedings from a Harvard Information Infrastructure conference.

Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier (Cambridge: MIT Press 1996) edited by Robin Peek and
Scholarly Publishing (New York: Wiley 2001) edited by Richard Abel & Lyman Newlin - diverse essays on readership, authorship, publishing and libraries.

Technology & Scholarly Communication (Berkeley: Uni of California Press 1999) edited by Richard Ekman & Richard Quandt - hardcopy of the major 1997 conference described later this guide - and God and Mammon: Universities As Publishers (Urbana: Uni of Illinois Press 1990) by Marsh Jeanneret

Impact of Electronic Publishing: The Future for Libraries & Publishers (London: Saur 2000) by David Brown - an updated version of his 1996 analysis of major print/electronic publishers in the sciences

The Advance of Electronic Publishing, a 1998 UK Department of Trade & Industry report (PDF) of interest because it draws on a survey of around 3,000 publishers

Getting Started in Electronic Publishing is an essay for the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) by Sally Morris of the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers

The Transition from Paper: Where Are We Going and How Will We Get There?, an American Academy of Arts & Sciences collection edited by Stephen Berry & Anne Moffat.

the 1998 report for the UK Online Library Network about The Publishing Of Electronic Scholarly Monographs & Textbooks and Electronic publishing & the Future of the Book, a paper by Tom Wilson.

The 1996 OECD report on Content As A New Growth Industry explores markets, concentration and technologies for audio-visual and multimedia products.  It's a starting point for understanding an evolving industry. 

For another perspective turn to How Much Information, a fascinating report by leading economists Hal Varian & Peter Lyman on the dimensions of the 'information universe': quantifying what's produced, transmitted, consumed and archived. UNESCO's definition of 'book', by the way, is a "non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers".

And Radiant Textuality. Literary Studies after the World Wide Web (New York: Palgrave 2001) by Jerome McGann fizzes with enthusiasm for the dematerialised text.

     bibliographies

Unfortunately a comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography of electronic publishing is not available online. 

Charles Bailey's online Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography - recently updated - provides a useful introduction to North American research into academic EP. We've highlighted other sources in later parts of this guide.

     reader perspectives

Sadly, much of the writing about electronic publications considers the technology rather than how (or indeed whether) it is used. While there was much media hype about Stephen King's self-published 'e-novels' as a first nail in the coffin of traditional publishing, there is considerable support for the joke that the novels were downloaded by millions but read by a handful. And, like vampires, the publishers refuse to stay in the box.

Our design and accessibility guides consider usability issues and point to resources for studying what works online, and why (eg Jakob Nielsen's succinct essay on How Users Read On The Web).

For a broader view we refer you to Augusto Preta's 1998 report (for the EU Electronic Publishing, Books & Archives project) on Heavy readers: their practices and reaction to multimedia and to Columbia University's Online Books Evaluation Project. 

Funded by the Mellon Foundation, the five year study involved academic publishers and explored models for assessing costs, user preferences and 'packaging' of monographs in online formats. The final report of that project is online, along with a report on The Potential of Online Books in the Scholarly World.

Part four of this guide highlights some of the perils and promises of academic e-publishing, including those identified in Ann Bishop's paper on Logins & Bailouts: Measuring Access, Use & Success in Digital Libraries. The UK SuperJournal project explored use of electronic journals, analysing expectations and actual behaviour. Although it has been criticised as too limited and artificial to produce genuine results, the reports make interesting reading.




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version of August 2005
© Bruce Arnold