Interesting item from Inside Higher Education … here’s the incipit:
The University of Michigan Press is announcing today that it will shift its scholarly publishing from being primarily a traditional print operation to one that is primarily digital.
Within two years, press officials expect well over 50 of the 60-plus monographs that the press publishes each year — currently in book form — to be released only in digital editions. Readers will still be able to use print-on-demand systems to produce versions that can be held in their hands, but the press will consider the digital monograph the norm. Many university presses are experimenting with digital publishing, but the Michigan announcement may be the most dramatic to date by a major university press.
The shift by Michigan comes at a time that university presses are struggling. With libraries’ budgets constrained, many presses have for years been struggling to sell significant numbers of monographs — which many junior professors need to publish to earn tenure — and those difficulties have only been exacerbated by the economic downturn. The University of Missouri Press and the State University of New York Press both have announced layoffs in recent months, while Utah State University Press is facing the possibility of a complete elimination of university support.
Michigan officials say that their move reflects a belief that it’s time to stop trying to make the old economics of scholarly publishing work. “I have been increasingly convinced that the business model based on printed monograph was not merely failing but broken,” said Phil Pochoda, director of the Michigan press. “Why try to fight your way through this? Why try to remain in territory you know is doomed? Scholarly presses will be primarily digital in a decade. Why not seize the opportunity to do it now?”
… I’m actually rather surprised that a pile of major journals haven’t done this already …