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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Scholarly Communications Report: e-books

    The UK JISC Scholarly Communications Working Group commissioned a report, delivered recently (March 2008) by Key Perspectives Ltd on Key Concerns within the Scholarly Communications Process (Word doc). The report was asked to produce
    a ‘big picture’ overview of scholarly communication at the present time, exploring with researchers and other stakeholders the four areas of concern, reporting on the findings and giving a series of practical recommendations for action.
    As such it dealt mostly with e-journals and open access ("There is little evidence of real engagement of senior management with issues around new forms of scholarly communication, despite the profound changes that are taking place and the effect these may have on the institution"), but also looked at research data and e-books, and at copyright and quality/peer review. It is a substantial report, and well worth reading.

    e-Books receive little attention, primarily because the author believes that, "Researchers in all disciplines like e-books and want more of them, but the model has not yet become mainstream." What the report does say is:
    Procurement of e-books is not optimal yet. Researchers and teaching faculty would like many more books in electronic form, accessible via the library website, particularly textbooks which they can recommend for course reading lists knowing that all students have access to them and that copyright constraints have been dealt with. The practice has not yet caught up with the ideal, however: libraries would like to buy more books in digital form but publishers are not making them available in the ubiquitous way that would be seen as optimal.
    And there is one e-book recommendation:
    It is recommended that a study is carried out on the provision and procurement of e-books in different disciplines. The study should identify where the barriers to provision lie and which business models prove most appropriate and sustainable for e-monographs and e-textbooks...
    I would agree with that, in fact we (IAL) nearly did exactly that for the JISC a few years ago. Hey ho.

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