| Turmoil in the Serials Industry
Add the business of Periodicals (industry magazines, and journals) to the
list of industries decaying with trouble.
Financial mismanagement and emerging technological innovations are the root
causes for this turmoil.
Periodicals, unlike most things we buy -- need to be pre-purchased (see
Know Your Library). That is, you pay for subscription for a
whole year much before the issue actually arrives. This works great for the
vendor, but bad for the consumer. Take the case of now bankrupt RoweCom.
Thousands of libraries, especially academic and public libraries (many of them
were million dollar accounts) used to buy their subscriptions through this
company, which took the money, but did
not deliver the merchandise. Oops.
The widespread availability of electronic journals and willingness of
consumers to pay for them is the silver lining in the aftermath of the content
and technology driven dot-com bust. But numerous problems are arising -- the
publishers are twisting the arms of the buyers into signing these so-called Publisher
Agreements before they can subscribe to electronic journals. Some agreements
go as far as to limit an electronic-subscription to be read by only one
individual (since when a magazine that my wife subscribes cannot be read by me?!)
There's also the problem of archiving. Let us say I subscribe to electronic
version of TIME magazine for the year 2003. Then let's say in year 2028,
I wanted to read an old issue. Where am I going to find it? If it was a paper
subscription, it would be in my basement.... The most agitating part for me is
that these licensing agreements will not allow customers to cache
and save the contents, even if they have a subscription.
I foresee a transformation brewing.
Of course, you know what Dave Winer would say. He'd say "Give every researcher and every writer a weblog, and let us dispose off the periodicals business."
Actually that suggestion is not far fetched. All that is necessary for websites to reach the respect and prestige the print publications enjoy, is rigourous peer-review, and maturity that comes with time.
See Also: More Entries on
Links: RoweCom FAQ
|First Written: Tuesday, April 22, 2003|
Last Modified: 4/22/2003