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“Every civilization is, among other things, an arrangement for domesticating the passions and setting them to do useful work," Aldous Huxley wrote in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. As we see it, electronic publishing is becoming civilized. We seem to have reached the end of the period of passionate conviction about what scholarly publishing should become, and are setting about the serious work of understanding what it has become. The articles in this issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing start by accepting the new electronic landscape.
Gerry Coulter writes about "Launching (and Sustaining) a Scholarly Journal on the Internet: The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies," an article in which the title says it all. Scholarly pursuits make such a journal valuable; electronic publishing it possible. This is not an argument for the existence of this journal, it is a guide to how to do it, from someone who has done it — successfully.
Another article on a successful electronic publishing venture is Sandra Ordonez's "Our Blook," about a collaboratively written political blog/book. And why not? It's this spirit of adventure that is one hallmark of accepting this new civilization.
Useful work includes considering P&L, ROI, balance sheets, and all other economic indicators. John Hilton III and David Wiley help us with that useful work by bringing sales data to the discussion in "The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales." It may be that giving books away electronically helps sell them in paper. More work needs to be done, the authors say, but their numbers are instructive.
Some issues we thought we had solved arise again in the electronic environment. Justification is one of them. While software makes it easier, there are still limitations, and perhaps they are nowhere as challenging as in Arabic. Mohamed Elyaakoubi and Azzeddine Lazrek take on this complicated subject in "Justify just or just justify." As they point out, "Design alone is not sufficient to convey a message to book readers or Website visitors."
As JEP has done before, we are republishing a blog posting that we think is worth wider distribution. It's from Phil Pochada, Director of the University of Michigan Press (disclosure, our sister organization here at the University of Michigan's Scholarly Publishing Office). His essay, "University Press 2.0," is a muse on how digitization will change the scholarly book that a press publishes, and the press's new role in this environment. This piece, too, is not a "should" but a reflection of what is.
John Maxwell, in "XML Production Workflows? Start with the Web", describes a method for integrating web-based content management with high-quality print production; he argues that content management and editorial process are best handled on the web, and that print output ought to be derived from web content, rather than the more typical other way around.