Primary distribution will remain online, but print edition gives members flexibility
Posted July 18, 2010
Despite six years as an online-only publication, the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association plans to return to print in January 2011, according to AAHA Associate Public Relations Manager Jason Merrihew.
JAAHA went digital in 2004 as a result of surveys showing that members wanted an online edition. The surveys found that veterinarians liked to pick and choose the articles they read and that few read the print journal cover to cover. The online journal was structured to allow for easier search capabilities so members could find and review articles quickly. Subsequent surveys reflected a desire to return to print, hence the planned release of a print version of JAAHA in 2011.
"We have received a lot of feedback from our members requesting a printed JAAHA," Merrihew said. "Although the main channel of JAAHA distribution will remain online, (having) the printed version will allow members more flexibility in the way they read the journal."
Cost was not a factor when AAHA decided to revive its print journal or in the original decision to go online only, according to Merrihew. Managing and running an online journal can be just as expensive as printing on paper.
"Even though you would think there would be less cost involved, there still is a lot of cost involved in going to an online journal, having somebody else manage it from the technical side," Merrihew said.
Starting in January 2011, all AAHA member hospitals will receive one print copy of JAAHA. Individual members can still access the journal online. Before the switch to online only, each AAHA member received a print copy of JAAHA. The journal was also available for purchase by nonmembers.
"We understand that people learn differently and they like to read their journals differently, so this provides more options for them."
—JASON MERRIHEW, AAHA ASSOCIATE PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER
"We're just very excited to get the journal up for our members, the printed version as well as keeping it available online," Merrihew said. "It will be the best of both worlds for the journal and for our members."
The "best of both worlds" approach seems to be the trend in publications, according to the Association Media and Publishing's May/June 2010 issue of Signature magazine. Many associations, including the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Chemical Society, have had increasingly positive responses to their online content.
The AABP publishes The Bovine Practitioner online and in print. Executive Vice President M. Gatz Riddell thinks AABP members value having format options. They can choose, for example, whether to opt out of electronic delivery of the newsletter and access it via the members-only online access that comes with their membership. They also have the option of supplementing their online access to AABP publications by purchasing the hard-copy versions of the monthly newsletter, or The Bovine Practitioner and annual conference proceedings, or all three.
"Some people would just as soon not get the hard copy, because they don't want it cluttering up their office or they want to conserve resources," Dr. Riddell said. "So we gave them these options."
The ACS offers similar packages that allow institutions and individuals to use more than one platform, according to Alex Kim,�manager of Web product development in ACS' Publications Division.
Kim is also enthusiastic about continuing to publish journals on the Web. Currently, the ACS publishes 38 journals, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society,�and intends for its readers to be able to navigate quickly and save stories as PDFs. Kim says the initial motivation to going online was a desire to keep up with new technology and not fall behind other publications. The website content has received a lot of positive feedback from members. Institutional subscribers still have the option of retaining their print subscriptions.
According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2009 Editorial Audit, 80.2 percent of AVMA member veterinarians prefer to read JAVMA News in print. The audit also reports 44 percent of member veterinarians do not at all care to read the journal electronically before it goes into print. JAVMA went online in 2002 and continues to publish a semimonthly print edition. Members with a subscription to the print edition receive access to the online editorial content as well.
Websites offer many ways for an association to provide services to its members. The American Chemical Society has a wealth of resources online for its members. Advanced search capabilities as well as full-text copies of individual articles, audio interviews, and a mobile application allow readers to easily browse journal content.�Citations�from the JACS steadily rose above 300,000 in 2008, according to the ACS' 2008 Journal Citation Report.
The AABP recognizes the need for print, but, like�the�JACS, wants to feature and promote timely online content as well. Forward-looking, Dr. Riddell said that if the number of AABP members electing to purchase print publications were to drop low enough in the future, the cost per printed copy could eventually become "prohibitively expensive."
"We just would like to drive more of the members to the members' area," Dr. Riddell said. "There's a lot of information there, publications and other materials provided by our committees, and I think a lot of times, members don't get there."
Similarly, the ACS is undergoing further updates to develop a mobile application. Kim said keeping up with new technology is a big undertaking, but ultimately imperative to a journal that wants to stay competitive. He added that it is only a matter of time before mobile viewing of the JACS outpaces viewing on a computer.
AAHA is focusing on flexibility. Like the AABP, ACS, and AVMA, AAHA wants to be responsive to reader demands and give its members varied access to journals and online materials.
"Our primary mode of distribution will be online," Merrihew said. "From member feedback, we felt that our members would like to have a printed edition as well, and we understand that people learn differently and they like to read their journals differently, so this provides more options for them."