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Featured Product: KluwerOnline: ePublishing Comes of Age

While eBooks have yet to take off in the general consumer market, academic readers have recognized their utility for some time. First came online journal publishing, as major journal publishers such as Cambridge University Press, John Wiley and Sons, and Oxford University Press recognized that space limitations and subscription costs were prohibiting libraries from buying existing journals, let alone subscribing to new journals. Following online journals came disparate experiments with print-on-demand and custom books.

Recently, a handful of academic presses have begun full-scale initiatives into ePublishing, offering an array of eBooks, journals, and reference works online. One of the most comprehensive programs is KluwerOnline. The venture, launched in earnest this year by Kluwer Academic Publishers, makes available hundreds of Kluwer titles through four distinct initiatives: Journals, eBooks, Custom Books, and eReference Works.

eBooks and Custom Books are new to the program this year. Comprising five subject areas (computer science and electrical engineering, social science, physics and materials science, biology and medicine, and chemistry), there are currently over 600 titles in the online catalog. Both eBooks and Custom Books draw from the same list of titles, recent publications formatted for availability as either a printed or online publication. eBooks are exact digital renditions of the bound book, complete with figures, tables, and images in high resolution. Users read eBooks through Adobe eBook Reader, which is downloadable for free. According to Jim Kingsepp, Electronic Production Manager for Kluwer, using the Adobe eBook Reader provides a measure of copyright protection not possible through simple PDF files.

Currently, as a promotion, Kluwer is offering eBooks to individuals at 30 percent off the price of the printed book. Institutions actually pay a surcharge for eBooks because access is unlimited (one eBook could be used by thousands of users at a time). The company Web site,, lists each title with price, ISBN, number of pages, and DRM (digital rights management) information. The latter describes any restrictions on copying, printing, or lending the title.

The Custom Books program allows instructors to select any chapters from the 600-title catalog to compile as a coursepack, bundle as a personalized custom book, or purchase as stand-alone chapters. The title list is the same as that for the eBooks program. Through a six-step process, individuals select the materials they wish to purchase or bundle and order them as either e-content or paperbound books. There are no restrictions on the content used. However, due to the mechanics of the publishing process, bound books must be between 76 and 500 pages of content.

KluwerOnline's third component, eReference Works, is a small but exciting venture. Currently there are only a handful of titles in the program, pulled from Kluwer's publishing programs in computational and mathematical science and earth and environmental science. More titles will be added soon in psychology and biomedicine. According to Brian Bishop, Kluwer's ePublisher, researchers using the online reference works can take advantage of rich features not possible in a printed book. "Researchers can follow a nonlinear train of thought in single-click fashion," he says. "They can annotate and bookmark key information on an individual level. The program remembers your searches and allows you to retrace your steps later on."

Adds Jim Kingsepp, "Researchers working together on a project can save an entire session of research conducted by various members of the group. They can leave notes for each other as well."

Because the program is written in XML, users are able to search in a variety of specialized ways, including key words found only in captions, text, or footnotes. Every entry in the eReference is cross-referenced with other articles. A pull-down menu allows users to view every entry that an article is referenced to, as well as every entry it is referenced from. So, for instance, a geology student interested in lava flows could find out which entries cite the article currently onscreen in addition to viewing the citations in that particular article.

The fourth element of KluwerOnline, the journals program, has been in place for several years. Currently Kluwer offers more than 750 journals online, covering 23 disciplines. According to the company, over 500,000 new articles are added to the program each year. A few clicks of the mouse get users to a list of articles in a specific topic area. One more click takes users to an abstract or, for subscribers, the full text of the article. The online journals are available by subscription only to institutions. Individuals may purchase articles one at a time through a pay-per-view program. Subscription cost for the online journal is equivalent to the printed version. For a small surcharge in addition to the cost of one subscription, institutions can piggyback the online version. Aside from saving shelf space and reducing paper use, the online version offers another advantage: Articles are generally available weeks before the printed version comes off the press.

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