There are a few items that have “caught our eye” in the last couple of weeks that we wanted to share.

  • First out of the box is Textbooks Unbound  an article from Inside Higher ED by Doug Lederman highlighting the challenge that Boundless Learning poses to traditional textbook publishers.  Evidently the folks at Boundless  are able to do this by “identifying widely used textbooks in certain fields (three last year, seven now) and then stitching together the best freely available material it can find and presenting it to students as an alternative (without charge, at least for now).”  Textbook publishers aren’t taking it lying down.  Not only have they questioned the quality of this free alternative, several of them sued Boundless Learning last spring.  All of the fun and games are recounted in this piece and reflect the potential volatility of this $4.6 billion market.
  • Anyone interested in  popular communications will find State of the News Media 2012  chock full of interesting facts and statistics covering media ranging from newspapers to cable TV and magazines to digital news sites.  “This year’s study contains surveys examining how news consumers use social media and how mobile devices could change the news business and an update on the rapid changes in community news.”
  • Plum Analytics Maps Success in Open Access Scholarship  focuses on a start up that is making the most of the growing interest in “altmetrics, a contraction of the phrase alternative metrics.”  According to this article Plum Analytics “offers universities and other research institutions a way to track how researchers on staff have fared in the open access (OA) milieu.”  The University of Pittsburgh Library System has already brought in and “will supply a list of its researchers with profiles that should include lists of their writings and publications. In turn, Plum will enhance the profiles to build a directory that correlates the list with “usage and interaction metrics” from OA sources, social networks, data repositories, blogs, and others.”  Sounds a bit more involved that “impact factor” data but you should read the article to get the full story.
  • In his blog post Now we see through a glass, darklyKevin Smith Duke’s Scholarly Communications Officer adds his perspective to the issues raised by the recent article from US News that caused such a  stir; Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption?  From his reading of the article, the main take away is that “we need a lot more transparency about the costs of publishing a single academic journal article” in the debate about open access publishing.  Smith goes on to say “it is worth noting that on the few occasions when we get solid numbers about the costs and profits of academic publishing, the numbers do not seem to add up.”  (It should make stimulating reading to see how publishers respond to such direct challenges to their pricing models.)



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