Digital open access collection complements print books

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Antoine Del Busso, General Director at Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal

“Rather than attempting to predict the future, we should consider the future we would like to see…”

I appreciate this reflection by Marcello Vitali-Rosati, co-founder with Michael Sinatra of the collection “Parcours numériques” (“Digital trails”) launched at Presses de l’Université de Montréal (PUM) last March. It highlights the urgent need to rethink traditional modes of knowledge dissemination. We know that the world of print publishing is in a period of profound self-questioning. Not only is marketing changing radically, but so are reading habits and, as a result, content creation. Can we, without incalculable risk, renounce the printed book?

The collection “Parcours numériques” wagers that, far from being incompatible, paper and digital copies complement each other and allow readers  the freedom to explore uncharted trails of knowledge that neither the publisher nor author can predict in advance. The printed version, centered on the author’s main argument, permits a linear reading. The enhanced digital version, in open access, allows the reader to dig deeper into the content, while providing access to related topics and other forms of content. The directors of the collection speak of a “virtuous cycle” that permits a free flow through content.

PUM claims that this model has financial advantages as well. Open access content is an excellent showcase for the printed book, demonstrating that its content is relevant and interesting. For now, this is a claim; it would be illusory to imagine that we have found the final solution. Experimentation is still at the beginning, and we intend to juggle more than on experiment. PUM has also launched a project in partnership with la Direction des bibliothèques de l’Univesité de Montréal, which we will continue to revisit.

The reflections of Marcello Vitali-Rosati and Michael Sinatra, co-founders of “Parcours numérique”, are also available in French here.




Open accessSocial innovation