An interesting article by Eileen Gifford Fenton and Roger Schonfeld examines “The Shift Away from Print” journals in libraries and the unintended consequences this may have for small scholarly presses. We’ve been making choices about format based on a variety of variables, not least of them cost, and the authors have concluded that an electronic-only journal publishing environment would be most cost-effective. But the transition itself is costly for undercapitalized small publishers and the authors argue we need to be thoughtful about how our decisions might doom a worthy publication.
What isn’t considered, except glancingly, in this article is the impact of full-text aggregators such as Ebsco and Infotrac on users and libraries, the growth of the open access movement, or the fact that articles that can be found online are altering the relative status of publications. Easy access is having an impact on the “impact factor.”
Whether or not libraries continue to pay for print subscriptions, scholarly journal publishers may have to find ways to get online – if they want to be read.