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Thursday, January 13, 2011

University presses add e-books to stay in the game

To position themselves as scholarly alternatives to Google Book Search’s 12 million-book archive, university presses and academic content aggregators, acting singly or in partnerships, are rushing to create or expand repositories for digital long-form texts. As detailed in this Inside Higher Ed article, JSTOR, the University Press eBook Consortium (UPeC), and Oxford University Press have all recently announced projects aimed at preserving their revenue streams from scholarly content and keeping themselves from being marginalized by the search giant.

Since these groups will target college and university libraries, rather than individual consumers, via the sale of access licenses, they won’t present any actual direct competition to Google. The addition of e-texts to their archives will, as one university press director noted, enable academics to cut through the “fog” of nonscholarly content that results from any Google Books search. With college stores representing a significant portion of University Press sales, perhaps there are ways for the two constituencies to work together on some of these initiatives.

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