Digitization and the Market for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project – American Economic Association

Abstract:  The free digital distribution of creative works could cannibalize demand for physical versions, but it could also boost physical sales by enabling consumers to discover the original work. We study the impact of the Google Books digitization project on the market for physical books. We find that digitization significantly boosts the demand for physical versions and provide evidence for the discovery channel. Moreover, digitization allows independent publishers to introduce new editions for existing books, further increasing sales. Our results highlight the potential of free digital distribution to strengthen the demand for and supply of physical products.


Digitizing books can spur demand for physical copies | Cornell Chronicle

“Book publishers cried foul – in the form of numerous legal challenges – nearly two decades ago when the Google Books project digitized and freely distributed more than 25 million works.

The publishers argued that free digital distribution undermines the market for physical books, but new research from Cornell’s Imke Reimers and a collaborator reveals that the opposite – increased demand for physical books, through online discovery – could be true.

Reimers, an associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Abhishek Nagaraj, assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, exploited a natural experiment condition to examine the impact of Google’s massive book-digitization project on physical sales.

Their paper, “Digitization and the Market for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project,” published Oct. 31 in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Their main findings: Digitization can boost sales of physical books by up to 8% by stimulating demand through online discovery. The increase in sales was found to be stronger for less popular books and even spilled over to a digitized author’s nondigitized works….”

No Journal is an Island

“This paper presents a case study of the John Donne Journal (JDJ) as a means of examining the state of open access journal publication in the humanities (with a focus on Renaissance studies) and the current models available for moving a print journal not only into electronic access, but diamond (sometimes called “platinum”) level open access. Of particular concern are the resourcing options for open access publishing in a sector where material and financial supports have long been in decline….”

Print Revenue and Open Access Monographs

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) and Ithaka S+R today publish “Print Revenue and Open Access Monographs: A University Press Study.” This report is the result of research funded by a Level I Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to investigate the effect of open digital editions on the sales of print monographs.


The Future of STM Journals | SpringerLink

Abstract:  The transformation of science, technology, and medical (STM) journals from a print orientation to a hybrid to a digital only format, along with increased open access (OA) regulations, and criticism about journal prices, taxed the resilience of many STM publishers. However, the purpose of a business has not changed since the dawn of time. It is to understand and satisfy the wants and needs of consumers. Most STM publishers have been doing this successfully since 1665, and it is likely that they will continue to understand and respond effectively to the constantly changing STM marketplace in the years to come.


Z-Library Plans to Let Users Share Physical Books Through ‘Z-Points’ * TorrentFreak

“Z-Library appears to be shrugging off a criminal investigation as if nothing ever happened. The site continues to develop its shadow library and, following a successful fundraiser, now plans to expand its services to the physical book market. Z-Library envisions a book ‘sharing’ market, where its millions of users can pick up paperbacks at dedicated “Z-Points” around the globe….”

Digital Books wear out faster than Physical Books – Internet Archive Blogs

“Ever try to read a physical book passed down in your family from 100 years ago?  Probably worked well. Ever try reading an ebook you paid for 10 years ago?   Probably a different experience. From the leasing business model of mega publishers to physical device evolution to format obsolescence, digital books are fragile and threatened.

For those of us tending libraries of digitized and born-digital books, we know that they need constant maintenance—reprocessing, reformatting, re-invigorating or they will not be readable or read. Fortunately this is what libraries do (if they are not sued to stop it). Publishers try to introduce new ideas into the public sphere. Libraries acquire these and keep them alive for generations to come.

And, to serve users with print disabilities, we have to keep up with the ever-improving tools they use.

Mega-publishers are saying electronic books do not wear out, but this is not true at all. The Internet Archive processes and reprocesses the books it has digitized as new optical character recognition technologies come around, as new text understanding technologies open new analysis, as formats change from djvu to daisy to epub1 to epub2 to epub3 to pdf-a and on and on. This takes thousands of computer-months and programmer-years to do this work. This is what libraries have signed up for—our long-term custodial roles….”

Does the digital world open up an increasing divide in access to print books? | PISA in Focus | OECD iLibrary

Abstract:  Over the last two decades, reading has shifted from taking place on paper to, increasingly, screens. As digitalisation spreads, there have been growing concerns about unbalanced access to new types of resources between socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged students. PISA 2018 results show that while disadvantaged students are catching up in terms of access to digital resources, their access to cultural capital like paper books at home has diminished, and the socio-economic gap has been persistent over the last two decades. This policy brief draws education stakeholders’ attention to this issue and provides evidence for the discussion of equity in education by examining how access to books at home is related to students’ prevalent mode of reading books, their performance in reading and their enjoyment of reading.

ZAG Flybrary: Open access library presented at Zagreb Airport | Croatia Week

” Passengers at Zagreb Airport now have the opportunity to fulfil their waiting time before boarding the plane, as well as during the trip, with a good book for which they will not need prior registration or membership fees. 

ZAG Flybrary is a free library based on the principles of open access and sharing and is now located in the??international departures area of Franjo Tu?man Airport. 

A tense thriller, historical or love novel, poetry collection or something similar can be taken off the shelf for free, and if passengers have a book they have already read, they can leave it and give others a chance to enjoy it. 


The basic rule is – Do you need one? Take one. Do you have one? Leave one….”

AmeliCA for Indian Scholarly Societies to Open Scholarship – Open Access India

“In India, most scholarly societies only publish their journals in print. If the journals are online, they still use the printer-set portable document formats because they believe that the only trustworthy and legitimate copies are those that are printed. In many cases, the scholarly societies post their entire journals online on their websites. The new publishing technologies do not seem to entice societies to devote much of their time to them. It seems they are content with the status quo. A dedicated staff and funding are needed to design layouts, publish in multiple formats, share meta-data, and generate metrics for articles. Society membership fees are often the main source of funds for these societies, and making their journals freely available online may undermine their sustainability. Since society cannot eliminate printing altogether, they must spend thousands of rupees on the design and layout of the manuscripts, as well as the printing.

Open access is a challenge for scholarly societies! They are still unsure as to the benefits open access can offer when libraries subscribe to their journals and make them available to readers. There are several Indian journals published by international publishers. The societies want to increase the reputation of the journals by utilising the publisher’s technology and reaching a wider audience. …

AmeliCA XML can be used to create digital publishing formats such as epubs, pdfs, HTML, and so on, and the meta-data can be harvested by the interoperable harvesters to develop global repositories online. Since all the works are available online perpetually, authors can showcase their work and invite collaborations from anywhere in the world.


The editors and editorial should be trained on the use of free and open technologies like AmeliCA XML and OJS and the authors and research managers need to be educated about open scholarship and open metrics. Already, the Society of Promotion of Horticulture is experimenting with AmeliCA. Joining AmeliCA infrastructure will definitely help the Indian researchers and the people in having a free-of-cost publication and access as the advisors work on implementing a system which will offer less or no cost for publishing and for accessing the published literature. Major advantages to open scholarship are having access to digital publishing software, indexing in the repository of the global south to increase readership, and working with scholars and publishers who share the same vision of creating the world’s open scholarship ecosystem.”

Goodbye to the paper journal and welcome to our new open access format | European Journal of Public Health | Oxford Academic

“With this issue, we implement the new format of the EJPH, improving accessibility to the journal, as well as abandoning the hard print copies of the EJPH.

The change to full Open Access was decided by the European Public Health Association in November 2020. With our switch to full Open Access, not only our members but also all public health professionals have access to the publications of high-quality scientific research. On top of that, we also fully comply with the European Union’s demand for Open Access for all research….”

CDL, CRL & HathiTrust Summit for Shared Print in the Collections Lifecycle – California Digital Library

“In 2020, CDL joined in collaboration with the Center for Research Libraries and HathiTrust (the CCH Collaboration) to play a facilitative leadership role in advancing shared print’s transition to a new phase of integration and interoperability (read more here). In its first year, the Collaboration released a freely available shared print comparison tool for serials and journals. On December 1st & 2nd of 2021, the Collaboration hosted a summit bringing together the shared print community, library technologists, and service providers to map a path forward for embedding shared print in the collections lifecycle. …”

Why most academic journals are following outdated publishing practices

“In his Medium article “Scholarly publishing is stuck in 1999,”

Springer Nature product manager Stephen Cornelius reproaches the outdated publishing practices many academic journals are using to produce online content. He notes that, despite decades of technological advancement, “research publishing seems stuck with those that were employed when it first went online.” Cornelius points to many areas of digital journal publishing that have been designed to mirror print publishing, such as journals formatting online articles as print-based PDFs, despite there being better ways to produce and present content online….

PDFs are rife with limitations as compared to HTML because, unlike HTML, PDFs:

Cannot support embedded multi-media research files such as videos
Have a poor layout for online reading, generally using columns that require readers to scroll up and down to read content on the same page
Are nearly impossible to read on mobile devices because PDFs are a static page (whereas HTML can be made to have a responsive design)
Do not easily allow for clickable references within the text
Are overwhelmingly not search-optimized for online browsers…

A recent article in The Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete“ explores the limitations of PDFs and the need for journals, particularly in STEM fields, to adopt internet-based publishing formats in order to support more dynamic presentations of research as well as to make it easier for readers to find articles online….”