Issue 15/04

August 24, 2004

Paula Kaufman, University Librarian, Editor



Julie Bell, Changes are being forced at costly journals, Baltimore Sun , August 16, 2004 . (Free registration required; an abridged version appears in the August 16th Boston Globe , with no registration requirement.) Excerpt: "For more than 100 hundred years, publication of major scientific and medical breakthroughs has been concentrated in a handful of prestigious journals. They have been the world's primary window into discoveries including the structure of DNA and the configuration of the human genome. But the reach and power of the Internet, rising subscription prices and pressure from patients are forcing changes in the world of scientific publishing. Those changes, advocates say, may end a publisher's paradise, in which knowledge of cutting-edge research is initially available to only those who can afford to subscribe....Patient advocates are also a powerful force in the Web publishing movement. They insist on easy, searchable access to the results of taxpayer-funded studies. "Some of that stuff could make the difference between whether someone lives or dies, or the quality of life," said Lynda Dee, president of AIDS Action Baltimore." Open Access News 8/16/04

OK, so it’s not exactly schol arl y. But this is an interesting piece of the book market. The New York Times explores softness at H arl equin over the past few qu arte rs, in light of changes in the women's fiction market. "In many ways H arl equin's current weakness looks bad only when compared with its previous, staggering success. It published 1,113 romance novels in 2002, more than half of the 2,169 romance titles released that year by the entire industry, according to the Romance Writers of America, a trade group. The next most prolific publisher of romance fiction, Kensington, sent a mere 219 titles to market. H arl equin is also one of the most profitable companies in the publishing industry. Last year it sold $585 million worth of books, for gross profits of $124 million, for a profit margin of 21 percent." The article adds, "One reason H arl equin is so profitable is that it pays advances that are much smaller than the industry average, often only a few thousand dollars for books in its romances series." Publishers Lunch 8/17/04

Kurt Vonnegut writes in In These Times: "I Love You, Madame Librarian. I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles." As for books: "Our daily sources of news, papers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books can we find out what is really going on." Publishers Lunch 8/17/04


The latest Pew Internet & American Life Project report about the Net and daily life says 63 percent of Internet users who say they get news in their lives get news online. The dedication to getting news offline is much higher than online. Of Internet users who ever read the news, 45 percent read it both online and offline; 17 percent get it online exclusively; and 38 percent get offline exclusively. This is a similar pattern to other online activity, and so the report concludes that "when Internet users do a certain activity exclusively in one realm, more will still do it exclusively offline than exclusively online." The report also observes that convenience and mobility are still a major factor in how people get their news: "Given that most Internet users are more mobile than their Internet connections are, a lot of daily activities still depend on where people are. For example, reading a story in the newspaper might be more convenient on the bus to work, while reading that same story online at a desktop computer might fill the need for a break during a busy workday. 8/18/0

The Telegraph has an amusing article about "reviewese"—the language of book reviews. In it the journalist relates his coming to terms with the special language used by all book reviewers to let readers know what kind of book they're getting. His most detested phrases that he wants banned from book reviews include: "laughoutloud funny," "editor should be shot," "emotional rollercoaster," "o vern ight sensation," "achingly beautiful" and the dreaded "high-octane"—of the fuel needed to keep thrillers going at breakneck speed. Writers Blog 8/16/04


Despite its recent concession granting authors limited rights to self-publish their articles that also appear in its journals, Elsevier’s academic publishing business appears as endangered as ever. Committees of the British House of Commons and the US Congress recently released recommendations to set up free repositories for scientific research articles. These would become free alternatives to high-priced journals and repositories, such as Elsevier’s Science Direct. Both go vern ment actions are big boosts for researchers and academic librarians, who have become vocal critics of the pricing policies of scientific journal publishers, especially Elsevier, which is the largest by far. In July, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee recommended that the National Institutes of Health be required to provide free access to articles accepted for publication in journals by putting them into PubMed, a free web archive. These recommendations, which would become part of NIH’s 2005 budget authorization, would require NIH to report by December on how it will impl ement the committee’s recommendations. At almost the same time, the House of Commons’ Committee on Science and Technology released a report urging all UK universities to set up their own repositories where research articles could be made available free of charge on the internet at the same time that they are published in journals. Digital Strategies Newsletter, Greenhouse Associates 8/04

There's further news on the treasure trove of 100,000 titles acquired by Half Price Books from Penguin UK . The company was previously selling the books only through its own stores, but now it has made 5,000 "collectible" books available through A release notes, "The books were a were a part of the Penguin Publishers' archive storage in Bristol, England, and include paperback copies of books by Isaac Asimov, DH Lawrence, Iris Murdoch, George Orwell, John Buchan and James Joyce, some of which include notes written by Penguin's editorial staff." Publishers Lunch 8/18/04


Oxford University Press (OUP) has announced that it has signed an agreement with HighWire Press, a division of the Stanford University libraries, to host all of its journals, beginning January 2005. Currently HighWire Press hosts the majority of OUP's science, technology, and medicine (STM) journals, numbering 97 of OUP's approximately 180 journals. Those OUP titles not currently with HighWire are hosted by OUP. Since its founding in 1995 HighWire Press has become a leader in non-profit electronic publishing, now offering the world's largest repository of free, full-text, peer-reviewed articles, more than 750,000 articles. OUP officials said that the partnership with HighWire Press represents not just a business alliance, but "a commitment to providing the best online access to leading research at a fair price for all." OUP's decision to move to HighWire Press is the latest in a string of moves for OUP's journal division, including forays into open access publishing. Library Journal Academic News Wire: August 19, 2004



The PDF (Portable Document Format), Adobe's near-universal electronic distribution format, has undoubtedly come a good distance in the 11 years since its debut, But despite its inarguable position as the de facto standard for distributing documents on the Web, it has its share of critics who complain that it's not a particul arl y effective digital distribution method. Some complain that it's fine for printing out documents, but lousy for online reading. Others complain about its load time, particul arl y on Web sites. Although the PDF format will likely be with us for the foreseeable future, digital publishing continues to evolve, and there are a number of competing and complimentary technologies already on the market. The debate over whether online publishing should approximate print continues as well, with some competitors focused on creating a new paradigm for Web publishing, while others stress the need to maintain the integrity of the print layout. (eContent 11 Aug 2004 ) ShelfLife, No. 170 ( August 19 2004 )



Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, wants to digitize and store the world's 100 million books, 2 or 3 million audio recordings, and millions more software programs, TV shows and videos, and he's making what has been digitalized so far freely accessible at <>. He's also built an "Internet Bookmobile," a van that drives around the country downloading public-domain books from the archive via a satellite Net link, and he's even taken the Bookmobile to places like Uganda , Egypt and India , printing out books for children at $1 a piece. His latest offering: 15,000 music concerts and 300 feature films. Kahle has recently asked Google to furnish him with a copy of its database, (with a six-month delay so Google's competitiveness doesn't suffer). Google has not yet decided what to do about Kahle's request. ( San Jose Mercury News 11 Aug 2004 ) ShelfLife, No. 170 ( August 19 2004 )



You may not be too alarmed to learn that the average life of a Web page is just 44 days—after all, just how critical is it to make sure that news on Britney's latest marriage remains eternally accessible? But experts are increasingly concerned that a benign neglect of digital information may have disastrous consequences down the road. Unlike some ancient paper or papyrus documents, which survived for thousands of years in utter oblivion, digital data can become technologically inaccessible in as little as 15 years. Neil Beagrie, Joint Information Systems Committee Partnership manager at the British Library, notes that "digital information will never survive and remain accessible by accident: it requires ongoing active management… The threat is very real and insidious and will eat away at the future of our cultural heritage, knowledge economies and information society if we fail to address it." Beagrie adds that "instruments and experiments currently being built will generate in a few years more data than has previously been generated in the whole of human history up to that point." Without an aggressive, coordinated plan to preserve this data, valuable research could be lost, literary works could disappear, and—most disturbing—history could be rewritten. While technological solutions are critical, Beagrie stresses that organizational solutions, such as the development of trusted repositories, are even more important. (SAP Info 2 Aug 2004 ) ShelfLife, No. 170 ( August 19 2004 )



Federal laws require Web pages of go vern ment agencies to be accessible to people with disabilities. But a new study, using a Web accessibility evaluation tool called Bobby, concludes that the U.S. go vern ment has not met its accessibility goals. For people with disabilities, digitized data has opened doors to a larger volume of information through the use of adaptive and assistive technology. Unfortunately, due to poor page design, much of the Web is still not accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires the home page of a Federal agency Web site, as well as the 20 most visited pages within the site, to meet specific accessibility guidelines. Of the 50 home pages evaluated, only 11 (22%) received the "508 Approved" icon on the Bobby report. 29 Web pages had problems with online forms, including the error "Explicitly associate form controls and their labels with the LABEL element." Twenty-seven home pages were flagged for not providing alternate text for images and image map "hot spots." Alternate text triggers a Web page reader, which "tells" the visually impaired what an image represents. Even though many of Uncle Sam's go vern ment Web pages contained errors, the task of repairing them would be fairly quick and easy. (First Monday 5 July 2004) ShelfLife, No. 170 (August 19 2004)



Ne arl y two dozen European user groups—universities, libraries, museums and archives —have created an electronic storytelling experience called COINE (Cultural Objects in Networked Environments). The project's objective is to make it possible for users to tell their stories—easily and affordably—through such user-friendly multimedia tools as computers, scanners and video. Project partners developed software for digitizing texts, images, sound files, video clips and other media, while the user groups participated in writing the stories, personal histories and recollections, which are easily accessible from COINE's Web site ( The site now comprises assets of local art galleries, archives, museums and history centers, and users range from young schoolchildren to retired people—and the site continues to grow. The beauty of the system is clean and s impl e interfaces and clear, easily understood terminology that allows non-technical users to feel comfortable contributing to various themed categories. A search of the people theme, for example, introduces Kurt Schwitters, an exiled German artist and poet who died in obscurity and poverty in 1948. Since his death, however, he has come to be recognized as one of the most influential and visionary pioneers of art in the 20th century. (Information Society Technologies 11 Aug 2004 ) ShelfLife, No. 170 ( August 19 2004 )



The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling that P2P file-sharing services Morpheus and Grokster do not infringe copyright. The decision includes an insightful analysis of peer-to-peer technology and concludes that "the introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particul arl y to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well established distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude." BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) - 8/20/04

Decision at

Coverage at,1412,64640,00.html




Cell Press has announced that access to the recent online archive of Cell and the other premier journals of the Cell Press collection will become freely available beginning in January 2005. The recent archive of these journals includes content that is 12 months old or older and dating back to content from 1995. Each month as new issues are published, the old issues will be added to the freely accessible recent archive. Free access to the recent archive will be available on both ScienceDirect ( and on the Cell Press journal sites ( This announcement by Cell Press represents an important change that will make a large part of the Cell Press journal archive freely accessible to the worldwide biomedical research community.



Bookstore sales were down in June continuing the slide that began in April. The results were disappointing, particul arl y when compared with the strong performance of overall retail for the same period. June 2004 bookstore sales of $1,187 million were 2.9 percent off the $1,222 million realized in June 2003. By comparison, overall retail sales of $339 billion for June 2004 were 8.3 percent ahead of the $313 billion for June 2003. Bookselling This Week August 17, 2004



Marti Hearst, a professor at the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California , Berkeley , has developed a prototype search program designed to turn Web searches into something that approximates browsing the stacks of a library. The Flamenco search tool uses descriptions of archived items to display items grouped by criteria such as artist, period, medium, and subject. Peter Scott’s Library Blog ( 8/21/04


Blog Today, Gone Tomorrow? Preservation of Weblogs

Weblogs seem to be growing in number and stature, but a lot of them seem pretty ephemeral. Are any special efforts being made to preserve their contents? Weblogs, or blogs for short, are cle arl y an ascendant part of the Internet. Although the personal diary goes back pretty much to the e arl iest days of the Web, its formalization as an online activity dates roughly from 1999. In that year, the first blog portals and tools to s impl ify and automate blogging activities appeared. It's been pretty much up and up ever since.

There are a number of definitions around as to what constitutes a blog, though most agree that a baseline description includes postings (at varying intervals), usually by a single individual, in the form of text, images, and other data forms, arranged in reverse chronological order and accessible with a Web browser. A classic blog entry includes a link to another item on the Web along with commentary on it, but some consist solely of the author's original writing, drawing, photos, music, or other creative forms. Blogs can be private or public, frequently or infrequently updated, solicitous of comments or not, and cover topics from news and politics to technology, art, religion, culture, and everything in-between. It's pretty easy to make a case for selective archiving of blogs. They represent a recognizably distinct form of communication that is having a measurable impact on human affairs in the e arl y 21st century. By traditional collection criteria, blogs with the greatest impact should get priority. Impact might be determined by readership or inbound link counts. But a broad sample of well-tended blogs of all sorts would be needed to provide a flavor of blogs as a social and cultural phenomenon and help historians of the future understand our era. Unfortunately, targeted collection of blogs, as well as most other digital ephemera, is not yet getting much attention from librarians and archivists. RLG DigiNews 8/15/04

The scholarly communications are also on line at