Publishing texts (VIII): Electronic publishing
The Impact of Electronic Publishing: The Future for Publishers and Librarians, written by David J. Brown and Richard Boulderstone, is published by KG Saur (2008). It’s available in hardback and e-book format. Unusually, the latter is more expensive.
The book offers a wide-ranging survey electronic publishing, aimed at ‘all the current and future key stakeholders in the scholarly communication process’. It aims to bring together into a synthesis many kinds of changes including those in technology, business, user behaviour, academic disciplines, and copyright. Much of the content is organised around categories of ‘drivers’ of change, namely: (i) financial and administrative; (ii) technological; (iii) and social.
The authors argue that electronic publishing has moved through three phases:
- phase I – until the early 1990s: the early days, in which ‘dominance was with publishing and curating the printed page’;
- phase II – from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s: a period, following the arrival of the internet, of confusion;
- phase III – from the early 2000s: characterised by strong performance of electronic publishing of information, corporate mergers and acquisitions, large-scale infrastructure investment, and the development of ‘open’ business models.
Inevitably for a book on this subject, The Impact of Electronic Publishing is already somewhat out of date. Not too much though – for social and commercial practices tend to change less swiftly than gadgetry and in this book the emphasis is on the former. It is not a light read: it runs to getting on for 400 pages of closely packed, densely written text. But it is the best primer on the subject and so deserves to take its place, at least for now, in the publishing canon.