The Publishing of Electronic Scholarly Monographs and Text Books

Chris Armstrong, Ray Lonsdale

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

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This eLib Supporting Study was conceived to investigate the incidence and nature of
the publishing of electronic scholarly monographs and textbooks in the United
Kingdom. Given the international nature of academic publishing, and the fact that the
professional literature suggested a higher incidence of activity within North America,
the study was extended to encompass publishing beyond the UK. This afforded a
comparative context by which to view UK initiatives.
The project focused on publications used in tertiary education or for research, and
‘electronic publishing’ was taken to mean texts made available in any computer-
mediated format: diskette, CD-ROM or via the Internet.

A range of methodological approaches was employed in conducting the research.
These included a comprehensive literature search and review; a survey of publishers
of electronic monographs by means of an interrogation of their Web sites, and case
studies were also conducted with selected UK publishers. A separate investigation of
the publishers of national bibliographical sources and services was also undertaken
using telephone interviews, and UK university libraries were surveyed by means of an
email questionnaire.

The project explored several interrelated areas. The nature of the general publishing
context of scholarly monographs and textbooks was investigated to ascertain the
current status of academic book publishing. The study offers a description of the
structure of electronic monograph publishing, addressing such issues as incidence of
provision, management structures, costing mechanisms, authoring and editorial
responsibilities. An analysis of the issues associated with the characteristics of CD-
ROM and Web monographs is provided, together with a delineation of the nature of
narrative content, added value components, subject orientations, rights issues and
quality control. File formats, document authority and identification, publication
security and metadata are considered for both CD-ROM and Web monographs.
The project explored the implications of electronic monograph publishing for those
involved in collection management, and provides an analysis of the current nature of
bibliographic access and delivery. A cursory investigation into the provision of
monographs in university libraries complemented that analysis, and was conceived as
the precursor for a further in-depth study.

The findings of this report are extensive and complex. They suggest that UK
electronic monograph publishing is embryonic, but alert to the salient issues. The
structure of the industry reflects to some degree international initiatives yet displays
unique characteristics. Extensive bibliographical problems remain, especially for Web
monographs, and there is little evidence of collection management activity associated
with electronic monographs in university libraries. A set of thirteen recommendations
delineates areas that require further investigation, together with suggestions for
enhancing awareness about the central issues identified in the research. A major
conclusion concerns the need to establish a national forum to debate these issues and
to foster electronic monograph publishing.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBath, U. K.
PublisherUKOLN, University of Bath
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998


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