If you were to judge only from the steady stream of books that will be filling up the Library’s new book shelves in the coming year, you might miss a truly epochal change about to take place. Over the next few weeks, Atkins will begin receiving some of its current scholarly books in electronic format only. These books will come to us through Project Muse, which distributes high quality work from a long list of academic presses.
Now begins the e-book future that we have all be envisioning for years. It has been frustrating to see e-books flourish in mainstream publishing, but stymied in academia by fear for diminished reputation, for a Napster-like collapse of the book marketplace, or the simple, breathtaking greed evident in some e-book licenses. The Project Muse titles, by contrast, come with allowance for the principle of fair use, for long-term preservation, multiple users, compelling use metrics, and no digital rights management restrictions. The future starts here.