EBSCO & H.W. Wilson & Economist

Last week, EBSCO Publishing and the H.W. Wilson Company announced a merger of the two, ostensibly with Wilson being consumed by the behemoth that is EBSCO. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Several years ago when Wilson pulled their indexes out of the aggregators to create and market their own databases on their own platform, I knew it would either save the company or be their downfall.

I don’t know the details of what went into the acquisition, but I do know that WilsonWeb was a half-baked product when it went to market, and in my not-so-humble opinion, it hasn’t significantly improved over the years. The best thing for libraries and researchers would be to move the high quality Wilson indexes onto a modern aggregator database search platform that I won’t be embarrassed to put out there for our users.

In other EBSCO news, they sent out a press release this week regarding The Economist and their bid for a semi-exclusive contract. EBSCO declined the offer, so as of June 30th next year, the full-text coverage of The Economist will be removed and only abstract/index content will remain in EBSCO’s products. I suspect that more big name publications may try to do the same, and this concerns me slightly.

My main issue with full-text of The Economist not being in our EBSCO databases in the future is not so much that I want it there as it is I want it available electronically. Currently, The Economist does not offer an institutional subscription or any sort of IP-based access for their online platform. We do not subscribe to or have plans to subscribe to the resources that will supposedly continue to have full-text content from The Economist, so I hope that they get their act together and start providing institutional subscriptions.

Kind of ironic that just a few weeks ago The Economist published an article that tut-tutted academic publishers for being too mercenary in their pricing structures. Maybe they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first?

NASIG 2010: Publishing 2.0: How the Internet Changes Publications in Society

Presenter: Kent Anderson, JBJS, Inc

Medicine 0.1: in dealing with the influenza outbreak of 1837, a physician administered leeches to the chest, James’s powder, and mucilaginous drinks, and it worked (much like take two aspirin and call in the morning). All of this was written up in a medical journal as a way to share information with peers. Journals have been the primary source of communicating scholarship, but what the journal is has become more abstract with the addition of non-text content and metadata. Add in indexes and other portals to access the information, and readers have changed the way they access and share information in journals. “Non-linear” access of information is increasing exponentially.

Even as technology made publishing easier and more widespread, it was still producers delivering content to consumers. But, with the advent of Web 2.0 tools, consumers now have tools that in many cases are more nimble and accessible than the communication tools that producers are using.

Web 1.0 was a destination. Documents simply moved to a new home, and “going online” was a process separate from anything else you did. However, as broadband access increases, the web becomes more pervasive and less a destination. The web becomes a platform that brings people, not documents, online to share information, consume information, and use it like any other tool.

Heterarchy: a system of organization replete with overlap, multiplicity, mixed ascendandacy and/or divergent but coextistent patterns of relation

Apomediation: mediation by agents not interposed between users and resources, who stand by to guide a consumer to high quality information without a role in the acquisition of the resources (i.e. Amazon product reviewers)

NEJM uses terms by users to add related searches to article search results. They also bump popular articles from searches up in the results as more people click on them. These tools improved their search results and reputation, all by using the people power of experts. In addition, they created a series of “results in” publications that highlight the popular articles.

It took a little over a year to get to a million Twitter authors, and about 600 years to get to the same number of book authors. And, these are literate, savvy users. Twitter & Facebook count for 1.45 million views of the New York Times (and this is a number from several years ago) — imagine what it can do for your scholarly publication. Oh, and NYT has a social media editor now.

Blogs are growing four times as fast as traditional media. The top ten media sites include blogs and the traditional media sources use blogs now as well. Blogs can be diverse or narrow, their coverage varies (and does not have to be immediate), they are verifiably accurate, and they are interactive. Blogs level that media playing field, in part by watching the watchdogs. Blogs tend to investigate more than the mainstream media.

It took AOL five times as long to get to twenty million users than it did for the iPhone. Consumers are increasingly adding “toys” to their collection of ways to get to digital/online content. When the NEJM went on the Kindle, more than just physicians subscribed. Getting content into easy to access places and on the “toys” that consumers use will increase your reach.

Print digests are struggling because they teeter on the brink of the daily divide. Why wait for the news to get stale, collected, and delivered a week/month/quarter/year later? People are transforming. Our audiences don’t think of information as analogue, delayed, isolated, tethered, etc. It has to evolve to something digital, immediate, integrated, and mobile.

From the Q&A session:

The article container will be here for a long time. Academics use the HTML version of the article, but the PDF (static) version is their security blanket and archival copy.

Where does the library as source of funds when the focus is more on the end users? Publishers are looking for other sources of income as library budgets are decreasing (i.e. Kindle, product differentiation, etc.). They are looking to other purchasing centers at institutions.

How do publishers establish the cost of these 2.0 products? It’s essentially what the market will bear, with some adjustments. Sustainability is a grim perspective. Flourishing is much more positive, and not necessarily any less realistic. Equity is not a concept that comes into pricing.

The people who bring the tremendous flow of information under control (i.e. offer filters) will be successful. One of our tasks is to make filters to help our users manage the flow of information.

getting behind and catching up

I seem to be perpetually behind on reading liblogs. I transferred all my liblog subscriptions over to Google Reader, which works well for keeping everything threaded nicely by date posted, rather than separated by source as Bloglines does it. This won’t work for everything I read, but it suits the liblogs perfectly. I set aside some time this afternoon to work on getting caught up with the 100+ entries since the beginning of the month. After an hour and a half, I made it to April 5th. I’ll continue on with the rest some other time, but I needed to stop and give my brain a rest, as well as take some time myself to write something other than a review.

My work for Blogcritics and BC Goodie Bag has taken over most of my writing time, and Twitter has fed my need for telling someone, anyone, what I am doing. This leaves me with the question of what to do about eclectic librarian. The answer is to get back to it! I have things to contribute to library land, so I’d better get off my duff and contribute them.

publication pattern change

A magazine with “weekly” in the title will actually be published 52 times this year — go figure!

I heard on Marketplace this morning that the magazine US Weekly will actually be published 52 times this year. The reporter said that the magazine had made enough money from ad revenue and sales to be able to publish an issue every week this year. I was curious to see what the publication pattern history has been, so I took a look at the Library of Congress record for the magazine. It appears that from 1985-Jan 1991, the magazine was published weekly, but from Feb 1991 until now it was published bi-weekly. I expect that something about this may show up on SERIALST, eventually.