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New Business Models for University Presses

New formats — beyond books and journals

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 4 Many of the examples cited thus far in this report illustrate the ways in which university presses have converted print editions to e-books and are developing new models for their distribution. An even bigger challenge for university presses is how to publish scholarship that does not fit into the standard book and journal formats. Scholars are increasingly using digital technologies to conduct, organize, and display their research; but methods of disseminating and preserving such work are only beginning to emerge.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 3 Over 50 university press projects are experimenting with publication methods that would take advantage of the full range of features made possible by digital technology. These new forms of scholarship include reference works, encyclopedias, atlases, and digital critical editions; multimedia projects that draw on the talents of faculty from different fields; and new online communities where faculty can find the latest research and seek rapid, well-informed responses to work-in-progress. AAUP recently conducted a survey of digital publishing projects in an effort to keep track of developments and provide a mechanism for exchange of information about new publication methods; the list of projects is available online at http://www.aaupnet.org/resources/electronic.html.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 These projects seek to combine the traditional academic values of rigorous peer review and intellectual excellence with a commitment to innovative digital forms of expression. Often they involve partnerships with other university departments and outside entities, including foundations. Many have been made available on an open-access basis, but funding is a perpetual issue. For the most part, they have been financed with university appropriations and foundation grants, usually with the expectation that they would become self-sustaining over time. Some have succeeded in this goal either through a subscription model or a combination of revenue sources. Notable examples include:

  • 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 1
  • Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO), one of the earliest digital publishing ventures, was launched in 1991 by Columbia University Press in collaboration with the University’s library and academic computing department. It publishes a wide range of scholarship in international relations, including working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, proceedings from conferences, books, journals, and policy briefs. CIAO is supported by subscriptions, a model that appears to be successful for digital collections focused in specific fields and providing annual updates (http://www.ciaonet.org). Other examples include MIT Press’s CogNet (http://cognet.mit.edu) and several collections in the humanities and social sciences published by Alexander Street Press, a for-profit scholarly publisher (http://alexanderstreet.com).
  • Project Euclid is an online environment for the distribution of peer-reviewed literature in mathematics and statistics, sponsored jointly by Duke University Press and Cornell University Library. The project features searchable PDF article files, COUNTER 3—and SUSHI-compliant usage statistics, interoperability through the Open Archives Initiative, and full-text searches across the entire collection. It is funded by a combination of hosting fees for a set of math and statistics journals (for which electronic access is sold by their originating publishers) and sales of an aggregation of another set of journals (for which electronic access is not sold in any other way). The aggregation income is shared between the publishers and some goes to Project Euclid (http://projecteuclid.org).
  • Rotunda, the newest of these examples, is the electronic imprint of the University of Virginia Press (http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu). Initially funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Virginia, it launched in 2004 with publication of the born-digital Dolley Madison Digital Edition. Rotunda’s American Founding Era collection now also includes digitized editions of the multi-volume Papers of George Washington, the Adams Papers, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, the Papers of James Madison, and the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Future publications will include digitized editions of the papers of Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, John Jay, John Marshall, and others. Rotunda also is creating subject collections in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, and the American Century. Rotunda publications are licensed to libraries, schools, and individuals, with pricing tiers based on Carnegie classifications. Because sales revenues do not cover the full costs of the program, however, Rotunda is developing an economic model of sustainability that will involve several sources of financing, including licensed publications; services provided by Rotunda’s consulting arm, Oculus; and grant support for specific projects. As a result of the work Rotunda has already accomplished, in October 2010 the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making arm of the National Archives, announced an agreement with the University of Virginia Press through which the Press will receive a two million dollar award to create The Founders Online which will be a public-access resource containing all the published papers of six founders— Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin.[10]

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 In addition to covering the costs of developing programs such as the Rotunda collections, publishers must budget for the costs associated with the new responsibilities for maintaining a digital publishing program. Andrew Jewell raised this point in a review published in Resources for American Literary Study: “The potential vulnerability of digital projects, combined with the evolving nature of technology, means that the publishers of digital scholarship (in this case, the University of Virginia Press), must consider not only production, distribution, marketing, and all of the traditional services associated with print publication, but also a particularly intensive kind of stewardship. Unlike print publications, which after production are a relatively stable material reality, digital publications will require continuous updating, maintenance, and migration to new systems.”[11] Penelope Kaiserlian, Director of the University of Virginia Press, notes, “In the end it is this perpetual stewardship that is the challenge of digital publishing. We see that the digital editions cannot be static, that they will need to have new material added, that they will need to migrate to new formats, and that they need to be safely preserved. We are committed to keeping up publication of the Founding Fathers’ Papers in the digital editions and adding new volumes until they are completed. We will continue to seek ways to support this activity and to sustain Rotunda as a viable publishing outlet in several areas of the humanities.”[12]

  • [10] Anne Bromley, “Grant Allows U.Va. Press to Make Founders’ Documents Online Free to Public,” UVA Today, October 11, 2010, http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=13117.
  • [11] Resources for American Literary Study, Vol. 31, 2006; http://www.ucm.es/BUCM/compludoc/W/10803/00487384_1.htm.
  • [12] Penelope Kaiserlian, “Rotunda: A University Press Starts a Digital Imprint,” Connexions, May 14, 2010, http://cnx.org/content/
    m34326/1.2/.
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    Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/sustaining/new-approaches-to-scholarly-publishing/new-formats-%E2%80%94-beyond-books-and-journals/