There is starting to be an ongoing debate about the future of academic publishing. Publishing costs are rising and library budgets are falling so there is less money to purchase books and journals.
If academics want to distribute their work widely and have their work make an impact then I believe the future of academic publishing is digital and online.
This will allow much faster sharing of research work, online searching and wider distribution.
For a very good article about this required change check out this piece
The other benefit of academic publishing going digital is better access for blind and vision impaired people. The material can be downloaded, converted into whatever accessible format is required and accessed instantly.
I prefer to read my materials on the computer using artificial speech but some prefer to print it out in Braille, some prefer large print etc.
So the advancement of academic publishing will have a spin off effect for the blind to provide greater access. Currently there is often an embargo on journals being available electronically and this needs fixing. This means I have to have articles scanned which takes time and costs money. It is inefficient and wasteful.
Paper only publishing also makes it far more difficult for blind and vision impaired people to search the journals – we need the text of the articles to be online and available for electronic searching to give full and equal access to the benefits of research.
Digital production also saves paper and we all want to save resources in this day and age.
Let me know what you think. Do read the comments below as I have put some updates on the Academic Writers strike and the debate over publishing models.