Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is "digital-only" the future of OPEN ACCESS journals - or are pre-imposed PDFs of feature articles the printed 'offprints' of tomorrow ?

A serial that is OPEN ACCESS (the ponderous academic term for what you and I, the little people , would be content to simply call "free-to-read" magazines) can hardly afford to provide endless amounts of mailed out printed "offprints" of its longer "feature" articles when it has *little or no income -- so what is the best solution ?

(*Charging - rather than paying - an author to publish their article can only be justified in academia , where there is an expensive (because labour-intensive) process of peer-reviewing articles before they are published.)

Both authors and readers sometimes rather like having a printed out version of feature articles to carry about.

The quick and dirty PDF offprint is free to email worldwide and the end reader pays only for the computer paper and ink to print it out.

But as conventionally printed out on A4 or letter sized pages, a long feature article is a pain to read.

The endless pages of overly-wide lines of text confounding centuries of typography best practises and it still isn't really "printed" in the sense we think journals or books are printed.

I much prefer the fiction-bound *A5 variant (based upon four print pages roughly 8.5 inch tall by 5.5 inch wide on each single letter sized sheet) of the 19th century story paper or feuilleton.

 Simply by folding the sheets of paper and re-arranging the page order ("imposing") allowed narrower columns of text reading correctly from the front cover to the back cover.

And : the friction of folded page on page holds it all together, much as conventional newspapers hang together without staple binding.

Pre-imposing the conventional PDF is easily done with cheap or free software (I like Cheap Impostor myself) and the end user needs simply to access the increasingly common office duplex computer printer to make up a little chapbook for the article in one go.

Or , do it at home in two stages on old fashioned simplex computer printers.

Presto --- Bob is your auntie's live-in lover ...

(*Truth be told , I really prefer A6 sized books myself - fits (hides) in any pocket, attractive to read , but until A5 computer paper is readily available I doubt many readers have access to the high quality blade paper cutters needed to make the idea do-able !)

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