Archive for the 'publishing' category

WTH, Publishers? What part of NO MORE MONEY do you not get?

Feb 13 2013 Published by under publishing

Rant mode on.

We have one publisher of ebooks with a 13% increase. A journal publisher with a 7% increase. Another journal publisher with individual titles with as much as a 20% increase (promptly cancelled!).




Sequester? Government science cut backs? Military O & M money shorted? RDT&E money shorted?

No. More. You're gonna get cancelled and we'll have to deal with the pitchforks and torches. Hell, I have a travel ban on now even if the kids weren't preventing me from going to SLA and whatnot.

It's not just the small undergrad colleges. It's across the board.

End of Rant.

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Yay SUNY Potsdam, but pondering the fungibility of chemistry journals...

Sep 12 2012 Published by under information policy, publishing

Jenica Rogers, the Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam, has blogged that their institution will not subscribe to a big ACS (American Chemical Society) journal package for 2013. The quote that they got would make this one package over 10% of their total acquisitions budget. The reason this is so notable is that ACS is also the accreditation body for chemistry programs, and there is a list of journals a program must have access to in order to be accredited. ACS has long held that the journals - with the exception of a journal on chemical education - do not have to be ACS journals.

In her blog post she mentions alternative subscriptions to Wiley packages, Royal Society of Chemistry packages, and combining those with Elsevier journals. For the purposes of accreditation, I totally get substituting journals from one publisher  for another. For doing the chemistry, this has not been the case. Publishers have banked on must-have journals... is this no longer the case? Surely it's different because they are a smaller school? Surely it's different if you already have a severely limited chemistry journal collection?


And yes, I'm on fire with 3 blog posts so close together :)

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US News reports on open access, sort of

Jul 26 2012 Published by under publishing

I guess we should be happy that the mainstream media is covering OA, but this article is a bit confused in places and probably does a little bit of harm.

Owens, Simon (2012, July 23) Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption? US News. Retrieved July 26, 2012 from

Confused: parallel with ebooks? This comparison is not really relevant or helpful. Academic ebooks have been steadily growing in use, and they don't, in general, require a specialized reader.
The modern version of peer review is much more recent than mid-1600s.

A bit of harm: publishing in a journal makes the work "unassailable"? (!?!?) Unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated? and "the more prestigious the journal, the more unassailable the article becomes" - oh that's not good at all. All work should be questioned, regardless of publication venue. Eek.

OA fees are typically a few thousand dollars? Well, some are, but many are less than $1500.

publishers have asserted that because of the layers of editorial review prior to a manuscript's publication, the publisher owns the copyright of the manuscript

Um, no. The copyright is owned by the author or the author's employer in a case of work for hire. The author signs over copyright using an agreement. The publisher doesn't own the copyright just because they manage peer review. Some journals and conferences do peer review but the author just gives the venue exclusive publishing rights for a fixed, short period.


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SPIE just does things right

Jun 22 2012 Published by under publishing

I'm always complaining about publishers and the various messes they make ... so I think it's really important once again to mention SPIE and how they're good people.  SPIE is for optics and photonics folks, btw, but they also have some more general interest defense stuff from time to time.

First of all, SPIE only charges what it has to to support publishing. They've had 5% decreases in price several years and they've held steady in other years.

They're very responsive to librarian requests and have a librarian newsletter.

Finally, the thing that's prompted this post is how they're handling their migration. AIP is stopping hosting journals for organizations that are not member societies (that's confusing. henceforth they are only hosting journals for their member societies). So a bunch of publishers had to find new homes and SPIE is one of them. Some nice things:

  • lots of notice
  • e-mails with lots of details and updates
  • migration checklist
  • keeping the same URLs where possible and having permanent redirects elsewhere (other journals have cut over hard with no notice and no redirects!)
  • they're proactively working with SFX and with CrossRef to make sure that all goes smoothly
  • they're ADDING legacy content back to 1962 at no additional charge
  • they're even moving alerts over (this is very unusual)
  • they picked a platform that gives them lots of new features (see:

One of their primary competitors has had huge price increases without adding as much new stuff.

Bravo SPIE! Bravo!

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In favor of the HTML full text (am I the only one?)

Dec 20 2011 Published by under publishing, scholarly communication

Chatting with a society publisher last week they told me that it's hardly worthwhile doing anything with the html page because maybe only 10% of readers use it!  I guess I'm in that 10%.

Over the years I've had so many problems with pdfs. They crash. They crash Adobe, they crash the browser, they crash the computer... and they can (and sometimes do) have malware embedded so pose a security risk. MPOW, like many other security-minded organizations, has it set up so all pdfs must fully download and be scanned before displaying. So this creates lots of temporary files to clog up the computer and it also makes irrelevant all those stupid frames publishers put around their pdfs.

Granted, when I need to print, I want the pdf. I use the pdf for my own reading that I want to suck into Mendeley.  My customers typically want pdfs.

But when I'm reading out of vague curiosity or browsing to pick out a fact (that is, if they don't pull out the tables and graphs separately), or checking to see if the article is any good... it's all html. If I'm going to read the whole thing, I'll frequently use the Readability plugin (I'm getting old).

So don't do away with the html, please, for me? And Sage?  Please add html full text (thank you in advance)!

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We need to work together to save the Statistical Abstract of the United States

Mar 22 2011 Published by under publishing

There are only a few references that are in every type of library including corporate libraries, government libraries, academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. Some sort of dictionary. Some sort of almanac (they’re cheap and they answer a ton of questions). The Statistical Abstract of the United States. You wouldn’t believe how many questions can be answered with this book alone. If your answer isn’t in this book, then you can find a table with the right sort of information and use the detailed citation to find the fuller information from the original data source. I’ve used it online, but I really prefer the print because it ends up being much faster. It’s one-stop shopping for lots of different government statistics from lots of different sources.

We just heard through multiple sources that the entire Statistical Compendia Branch of the Census Bureau is slated to be defunded in 2012 (Iris has info and links to a govdocs listserv).  So not only will we lose this vital tool, we’ll also lose the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book and the County and City Data Book. I used these all the time in the public library to answer lots of questions about Maryland and our county.

I really can’t overstate the importance of these resources to finding and using government statistics information.


I would encourage you to write your senators and congressmen to see if we can save this important tool.

5 responses so far

Another Ebook Rant

Feb 25 2011 Published by under information policy, publishing

Oh, this just kills me. It's absolutely despicable, and I don't mean cute like the movie.

(via Jill Hurst-Wahl) see this blog post from Bobbi Newman.

You know how I keep going on and on about ebooks and licensing? How you don't own them? DRM and all?

Well, one of the largest ebook providers to public libraries, Overdrive, has announced that "purchasing" a book on their system means you only get 26 check-outs. Then the book will disappear. (insert really unladylike language here).

One positive for libraries wrt ebooks has been the return on investment - but this could mean that a book costs about $1/checkout. That's totally not sustainable. I used to see books with more than 200 lifetime checkouts. Considering the fact that this would also include people renewing books (there is no real renewal, you have to check the book out again) if they didn't finish reading.

In print books you have the first sale doctrine. Here you are purchasing a block of uses (like we used to do with First Search databases for the librarians in the crowd). No point in models where you "buy" books at all. You should just get access to the database and pay an annual subscription.

We had a vendor try some crazy thing where we would pay them for all of their ebooks, but each one could only be downloaded once - ever. (crazy, huh? and this was tens of thousands of dollars).

Oh, oh, and another thing. They want to audit that you're not giving library cards to people outside your geographic area. Boooogus.

Overdrive should just stop carrying books from that particular publisher. Yeah, we would complain, but the principle is important.

7 responses so far

You don't buy ebooks

Feb 16 2011 Published by under information policy, publishing

Let me say that again: You don't buy ebooks. You license them.

You don't buy ejournals, you license them. In most cases, you stop paying, you no longer have access.  Ebook collections in the library? In most cases, you stop paying, you no longer have access.

Unfortunately, David Dobbs just learned this the hard way. iBooks you licensed disappear if your phone has been unlocked or jailbroken and you do the update. You broke some aspect of the license so they stop their part of the license - providing the content.

Remember when Amazon pulled back copies of Orwell books from Kindles? It didn't matter if you held up your part of the license in that case, they found that a third party had broken the law.

Libraries are trying to write licenses to have "perpetual" access but in many cases this only applies if you license individual books, not collections. We also like schemes that provide a backup like LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, or Portico. AND we do everything we can to make sure we hold up our end of the license (no bulk downloading, only the people who are supposed to have access do, etc.). This is why we sometimes seem like the watchdogs for the publishers.

Just get your stuff from a library, then when it goes poof you can just check it out again. Or if not, maybe a third party (like B&N or Amazon) would prevent the iBook issue (if not the other issues).

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scio11: ebooks and the science community

Jan 16 2011 Published by under Conferences, publishing

Carl Zimmer, Tom Levenson, David Dobbs, John Dupuis

cz: ebooks have been discussed for a long time (like 25 years) – but we’ve been able to ignore them. There was a push in the net bubble, but now they’re back. Compare the growth graph to the more typical “sad gentle decline.” In the early days there was a lot of marketing about replacing a whole shelf of encyclopedia volumes with a cd-rom.

One model is to self-publish on Amazon.

cz also covers formats – like print or like an app. The example app has a lot of bells and whistles and moving things – pretty distracting.

tl: original Gutenberg. only about 10k books in Europe prior to the printing press, by the end of this period there were 10M. The rise of authors and the invention of copyright (UK), 1710.

dd: contracts and stuff

jd: how long did it take him to spend $10k on ebooks – one year – until Safari was available. He spends about 100k/year on ebooks, mostly in science and engineering. Publishers and authors don’t like this. They don’t like libraries because we make it so our patrons don’t have to buy their books. What is the ebook business model? Will it go like the music industry? Probably. People will still pay for books/content, but it will be more of an itunes model. He talks to publishers a lot and he tells them that the libraries are the last people standing who are willing to pay real money for high quality content. For these new content types – like apps. How can we share them? How long will they last? He’s interested in DRM – locking down content so people can’t do what they want with it. “I’m happy to pay. Think of libraries as the last people who are happy to pay.”

From the audience:

“we can control this market” (um, no. heh.) “work with a good designer but don’t let them drive the bus” (makes sense).

all of the different formats coming out at the same time, any apps should integrate with the other formats (in her opinion).

jd: the app is so seductive from the publishers point of view because they can monetize every reading transaction (he [and I] hates that). But think of the life of the app. Think of all of the platforms.

the textbook market has the expertise that would be needed for creating these high production apps.

what do editors do in this model? (they same thing they did in other times)

there’s the question about updating the app if there’s a correction or update. also do you lose your bookmarks, etc.

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Disappointed (so far) with the SRMO beta

Oct 15 2010 Published by under publishing

Ever since I heard it mentioned a few months ago, I’ve been salivating over the new product coming out, Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO). It’s a collection of research methods books. Folks who do social science research will probably know this publisher immediately – I have 15 research methods books from this publisher in my citation manager and I’ve read parts of probably 10-15 more. Even more have been recommended to me but I haven’t read them yet.

When I saw a press release on ResourceShelf that the beta was out I immediately signed up. There’s free access until January to help with the testing (and do try, don’t just take all that I say uncritically).

Maybe I built it up too much, but I do have a lot of experience with ebooks at MPOW and so I know something about what works and what doesn’t.

First, I couldn’t find any of the books that I have in my collection. No Strauss, no Corbin, no Rubin, no Yin, no Maxwell (not the right one anyway), no Creswell, no Patton, no Wolcott (although I have 2 of his books and really don’t need any more). There is one by Miles and Huberman (a good one), but not the one I have. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff here, but not what I wanted.

So, ok, the cool book by Miles and Huberman. It’s just html text, there’s no pdf. Well, actually, I just found the pdf – if you go to download, it pdfs the html text. It’s a little weird and has these big footers. In Arial.  The tables are sort of awkward – not sized for the page but running off the side. It’s one long page. The table of contents is in this little scrolling box on the left hand side, but the list of ancillary materials takes up the majority of the sidebar. It’s in a light font, and is somewhat hard to read. Good news is that the readability plug-in works for it so that helps with the light weight font.

Good stuff includes the ability to increase font size, a kind of cool bar that shows you how far you are in the book, the ability to go full screen, the ability to hide or show headings and page numbers, links to find in the library (oh and to buy, but whatever)….

When it comes to finding things, well, it seems a little strange. Looking up by author is mostly what I’ve been doing. I can’t really get anything useful out of the map of methods even though that’s supposed to be a strong point. There’s a category for writing up and a subcategory for dissertation, but it’s empty. When you go to writing up, you find book chapters on writing up dissertations. I did use the general search and found a definition in a reference book, so that’s cool. Browsing titles doesn’t really seem that useful. Maybe I don’t have something real to search for.

I wonder how much it will cost? Maybe they’ll add the favorite titles once it’s not free access? That would make sense.

I don’t know. Sigh… I was really, really looking forward to it.

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