Making the Commercial Transition from Paper to Electronic, or, Publishing in “The Twilight Zone”
The transition should be gradual enough to permit both research librarians and research publishers to survive and continue to play key roles in the creation, organization, storage, retrieval, and delivery of scholarly information. There are four specific aspects of the transition: first, the financial need to make choices; second, the electronic environment we are working in and the media and content choices we are likely to make; third, a few opinions about roles in electronic publishing; and fourth, funding options for the future. On the one hand there is little incentive to create an electronic product which would be truly competitive to the paper subscription in quality and price. On the other hand, publishers do believe libraries want journals available in electronic form, at least for document delivery if not for full-text searching and retrieval. The academic publishers and librarians, while in the twilight zone of transition, will have to make hard choices about what to invest in.