As the cost of paper and ink continue to rise, the nation continues to emphasize “green” initiatives, and people are increasingly turning to portable devices for their reading preferences, a lot of Scientific Technical and Medical publishers are moving journals and publications into PDFs, instead of expending the money to print them.
Part of the allure of PDF publications, aside from the cost benefit for the association, is the ease of access. PDFs can be saved and stored to desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, and are, for the most part, universally accessible across operating systems. With over 83% of STM publications and journals now available online (and growing!), libraries are able to continue to stock all of the scholarly research on which the scientists report without having to sacrifice publications because of budget. The speed of delivery is almost instantaneous, and there are more advanced metrics on just who is reading the publications.
Some are apprehensive about the decrease in price at which the journals can be sold, but this is handily accounted for by the significant decrease in printing costs. Journals can become living documents, constantly updated, linked from one to the next, able to be condensed or expanded to suit individual readers’ needs.
Concerns around open access can be assuaged by validation practices that require logging in or entering an authentication code when trying to access articles from mobile devices. This allows even more metrics to be reported back to the publisher, but also allows for customization by users for a better overall experience.
PDFs allow the publisher to maintain control over the work, while allowing the reader to carry it along and search the document with ease. And, if downloads translate into purchases, the business model around journals is unharmed. As the industry and the nation continue to move into the digital age, print publications are increasingly becoming “print to file” publications.