Saturday, September 26, 2009

Handheld Serials -- How Wireless Device Technologies Impact Electronic Journal Publishing ...

ABSTRACT. As computing becomes more portable, an ever-increasing number of people are dependent upon smartphones, personal digital assistants, webpads, and other wireless devices. This paper addresses the effect, if any, of these current and future wireless technologies on electronic journal publishing. Have these technologies impacted e-journal publishing to this point? What are the expectations and strategies of journal publishers in dealing with the changing technology? What special issues do these devices present regarding licensing?



The purpose of this article is to examine matters related to full-text ejournal access on handheld devices. Since there has been so little in the library literature about the topic, an attempt was made to consult e-journal content providers–both publishers/producers and vendors–regarding it. A short questionnaire, consisting of five open-ended questions, was designed; it was hoped that the open-ended questions would allow respondents to elaborate. Initially, the questionnaire was sent to eight ejournal publishers/producers and vendors of various sizes. No attempt was made to discriminate against particular companies.

Of the eight questionnaires sent, two were returned completed by the due date. Because of the poor response from the first set of inquiries, some of the original eight companies were contacted a second time, and the questionnaire was sent to two additional e-journal publishers that had not been included in the original group. Again, a reasonable deadline was assigned, but only two more companies responded. Thus, in total four questionnaires were completed and returned. Despite the poor response rate, there was valuable information in the responses.

The discussion that follows is therefore based on the four completed questionnaires, which were received from Ron Burns, the director of Software Product Management at EBSCO Publishing; John Viviano, the product manager of POCKETConsult at Elsevier; Michael Krot, a research associate at JSTOR; and Sri Rajan (electronic products manager), Peg Marshall (the manager of Marketing and Business Development), and Frans van Ette (the director of Marketing) at Swets Information Services. Elsevier’s response was specific to a particular product, POCKETConsult, “a point-of-care source for medical and health information.”



Those who responded to the questionnaire felt the impact of handheld devices on electronic journal publishing had been minimal so far. A variety of issues–among them device memory, screen size, and download speed–currently limit the popularity of handheld devices among library and e-journal users.

The importance of handheld devices in the library and in the e-journal market is expected to grow. Swets pointed out that the demand for e-journal services should increase as younger generations adopt more powerful handheld devices. Both publishers/producers and vendors face problems of their own, though, with cost probably being the greatest. Is it more cost-effective to develop content for the current technology or does it make more sense to wait for the technology to catch up to current content? Licensing, as it relates to handheld devices, is a matter that publishers and vendors still need to work out.

In all of this, where do libraries fit in? More study is needed regarding the issues raised in this article. As handheld devices increase in power and the number of users grows, expectations regarding library services will also increase. Once libraries decide how best to serve the needs of handheld device users, publishers and vendors will become more involved as well.



Spires, Todd (2008). Handheld Serials -- How Wireless Device Technologies Impact Electronic Journal Publishing Now and in the Future. The Serials Librarian, 53 (4), 141-153. Retrieved September 26, 2009, from (Subscribers)

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