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Re: Online and Out of Print

As Pete Goldie points out, the "out-of-print" issue is a misnomer for a
good electronic scholarly work.  There are several reasons.

One, a good electronic archive will have to be managed so that the
on-line products can be migrated to new technologies and the
presentation upgraded to take advantage of advances in browser
technology, etc.

Second, one of the main constituents of an on-line journal or scholarly
work is the links it contain -- both to the refernced papers, but also
to the future papers which cite the article.  This requires on-going
management of the electronic archive.

Third, an outgrowth of #2, an electronic journal does not exist by
itself.  Individual scholarly works are all part of the vast digital
library called the Internet.  Some are better connected and interlinked
than others.  We at the American Astronomical Society feel that it is
our responsibility to maintain the accessability of our scholarly
material indefinitely.  This is particularly true as we include items
which are only available electronically, such as movies of computer
simulations, etc. where the electronic material is a vital part of the
information being transmitted.

As Pete Goldie says, maintenance of such an archive costs something.
Our solution is to start a fund for future archive maintenance which
will alllow us to pay for the archive operation and management.  We
feel that technological advances will result in reducing the costs so
we will be able to store and amintain an ever growing archive with the
funds we are setting aside now.

But there is another, and more fundamental reason why "out of print"
electronic material can not be copied and distributed by a number of
independent sources.  Any _good_ electronic journal -- one which is
composed of much more than simple page images or PDF formatting -- has
a wealth of materials, scripts, links and name servers in addition to
the text.  A _good_ journal is a complex system, and requires all the
underlying structure in order to be a functional journal.  It takes a
large investment in infrastructure and some degree of expertise to
provide access to such an electronic journal.

While a market may develop to maintain access to electronic materials
which were poorly designed and formatted in the first place, it will
not be a simple job for anyone but the original publisher to archive a
_good_ electronic journal.  I hope reputable publishers will work with
the library community to address the archive problem.

Dr. Peter B. Boyce			
Senior Associate and past Executive Officer
American Astronomical Society                   Fax:    202-234-2560			Ph:     202-328-2010
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