October 19, 2010
SSRN To Offer Hard Copy Services
The Social Science Research Network sent out an email announcement today that it will soon make available a "Purchase Bound Hard Copy" feature. This will not replace free PDF downloads as much as be another option to acquire the text. For authors, a hard bound print copy will count as a download for statistical counts.
My first reaction to this development was "Vanity, thy name is faculty member." Those of us who work in support of faculty research knew that already. I have to believe, however, that SSRN isn't doing this simply to appeal to faculty egos. In this digital age the idea that the information is more important than the container, here PDF no less, seems to be taking a step backwards. So here's one for the print is dead crowd to ponder: why would a substantial online archive of scholarly works offer a print on demand service? SSRN must have done some marketing research to justify this move. The announcement does say that the new service is in response to author and reader requests. There must have been enough of them to justify a $9.99 plus shipping and handling cost. Look for this soon for most papers unless individual author(s) decide to opt out.
I can see that in some circumstances. One is when an author submits multiple versions of the same paper and leaves them all online. The later, or more definitive work might be best for preservation. A faculty member might say print them all. Why not? Will schools buy their own faculty submissions? Then it will be up to the catalogers to sort that one out should they wind up in a library collection, and the cite checkers if in a law review. In a world where individuals can download PDF copies of scholarly papers, upload them to a Kindle or another electronic device, or print them out themselves, there is still a demand for a formal hard copy of an item of this type. Amazing. [MG]
I will also be curious to see how this might impact on contracts that might prohibit post-publication distribution. Perhaps it gives a whole new meaning to derivitive works.
Posted by: Vicki | Oct 20, 2010 1:48:47 PM