It took a lunch discussion to make me aware of a blog post I missed. I was recently enjoying a talk with Silverchair‘s Thane Kerner and hashing over the predicaments of modern scholarly publishing when he started drawing graphs in the air and asked, “Didn’t you see my blog post?”
Sorry, missed it.
Well, here I am to make amends, because what Thane was talking about is important to the perceptual realm of creatures trying to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs. That’s right, folks — a meteor is approaching that epitomizes the environmental changes that will lead to the disappearance of the non-adapting dinosaurs, and this meteor is in the shape of an iPhone.
What we’re talking about is how purchasing patterns in the academy have irrevocably shifted from print to electronic resources.
Thane’s post (aptly entitled, “Quantifying the Obvious”) lays out data from the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of College and Research Libraries showing when the lines of expenditure crossed in multiple buying domains, some as long ago as 2006:
These data are compelling in and of themselves, but when you line them up with other data showing that the majority of revenues for STM publishers have been coming from electronic resources for the past few years, the equation is complete — print is no longer the dominant medium.
And there is no going back. We’re in the midst of a revolution of distribution, manufacturing, and information presentation and utilization. It’s a digital revolution. It’s a revolution that now dominates the purchasing and strategic frameworks for demand and supply.
If you, your editors, or your sales forces think otherwise, tell them to wake up and smell the gigabytes.
Most importantly, the days of undervaluing electronic may, quite properly, be coming to an end, as majority adoption logically leads to value shifts that will be reflected in pricing.