An Editorial Farewell
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Almost three years ago, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of The Journal of Electronic Publishing, I sat down to reflect on the history of the journal and my relationship to it. I’ll quote here at length from my editorial note for that anniversary issue. I began by recalling my first encounters with JEP, circa 1997 when I was finding my way out of library school and on to the Web. As I said in 2015:
As my wheels began to turn about what forms of publication might be possible through that Web, a colleague at the library pointed out that our adventurous university press had put a journal on line that was all about electronic publishing. That, I thought, was pretty cool.
Two decades later, I’m delighted that I still think JEP is pretty cool. But it has changed, as has my relationship to it. I went from reader to would-be rescuer when the next press director at Michigan decided it was fiscally unwise to be so adventurous as to publish a journal online and for free, no matter what we were learning from it; I led a library effort to change the publication’s home, but the journal and its editor went looking for more practiced publishers and while there were a few flirtations, no marriages resulted. So after a hiatus, JEP found its way back to Michigan, and I became its publisher. Professional life moves on, and in 2013, I became a faculty member at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, as it happens at a time of editorial changeover at JEP. Unable to leave the journal alone, I proffered my services to Michigan Publishing as its editor. The good people there were kind enough to accept my offer, and I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since.
I concluded that note by looking to the future, saying that “We also look forward to the next decade and to what it teaches us about digital publishing and the expressive possibilities of the media and methods that our authors use to communicate their work. I suspect by that time there will be another editorial hand on the helm, but I will still be reading with interest.” Now well into 2018, both JEP and I have a few more grey hairs but are still, I hope, “pretty cool.”
I want to ensure that the journal, at least, stays that way, and to do so, it’s time to get that new hand on the editorial helm. JEP has provided many opportunities for me to connect with intelligent and articulate thinkers about publishing, electronic and otherwise, but it’s time for me to forgo that intellectual and professional pleasure and to support a fresh editorial perspective that will guarantee the journal’s relevance and vitality.
In my time editing JEP we have explored many of the urgent topics of the contemporary publishing conversation. We have had special issues on Measuring Publishing Value: Metrics, Alternative and Otherwise, On Access, and on the topic that JEP first addressed in 1996, The Economics of Publishing. We have also continued to use JEP as a kind of publishing laboratory, experimenting with the affordances of the Web in issues such as Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities and deploying tools to help measure and increase the impact of our articles, adding altmetrics and Hypothes.is for annotation. The last articles published on my watch again return to topics that are both perennial and au courant: costs, possibilities and audience.
None of this good work would have been possible without the support of my managing editors, Jon McGlone and Jaclyn Sipovic, who have immense talent and immense patience and who have kept me out of trouble for the past five years. They have my gratitude and affection, as does Charles Watkinson, now leading Michigan Publishing, realizing its considerable publishing potential and recognizing JEP’s role in its achievements and orientation.
I am delighted to be handing over the reins and the responsibility for JEP to Simon Rowberry. Simon is a Lecturer in Digital Media & Publishing at the University of Stirling in the UK. Prior to this post, he completed his PhD dissertation, “The Literary Web,” at the University of Winchester. His teaching and research focus on the emergence of digital textual media, its historical precedents, and its broader impact on the development of digital media and contemporary publishing. I am confident that Simon’s professional and geographic location open up a new world of possibilities for JEP. I’m eager to see what happens next.
I hope that our readers are as well and that, like me, you will continue to listen to the digital publishing conversation as it unfolds on our pages and screens, and you add your voice. I’m sure you haven’t heard the last of mine. Confident in the great flowering of unoccupied time now that I’m released from my editorial duties, I hope to return to JEP having authored all those articles I always wished had appeared here. That would be pretty cool.