From the Gutenberg Galaxy to the Digital Clouds

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Journals, Cost per use, Sociology, Digitization, Academic evaluation

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Publishing is changing rapidly, though these changes are concealed from academics, who are presented the appearances of the old world of print. The economic incentives and consequently the strategies of publishers have, however, changed. Where quality was once the road to profit, content now is, and novel digital delivery systems are the key to sales. Academic libraries have become storefronts for digital sales. Editors have become content collectors. At the same time publishing has attempted to mimic the accessibility of the web, shrinking the gap between “publication” and posting. This raises the question of what value is added by journal publication, and whether there is a justification for the huge cost. Some shorter and longer term perspectives suggest that the current value-added is linked to policies of evaluation, but that these may change.

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The American Sociologist, v. 47, issues 2-3, p. 131-138