I’ve been thinking recently about how print journals adapt to the digital world. My mulling was kicked into gear by two specific examples, that of Critical Inquiry and of Shakespeare Quarterly (full disclosure: I am an Associate Editor of SQ, but I am not involved with the online Forum). Critical Inquiry‘s new website includes the usual information (what’s in the current issue, what’s forthcoming, information about submitting). But it also includes online features that extend the print journal substantially. There’s new content that appears only online, including the “web exclusives” made up of bundles of essays, On the New Arab Spring and The Wire, and the CI blog, In the Moment. There is also previously printed content made (temporarily, I assume) accessible online, such as the debate with Jacques Derrida on South Africa, or the articles by various featured authors.
Shakespeare Quarterly‘s online Forum is less slick, but strives for more conversation with its readers. There has been printed content that appeared for free in the Forum (a Lee Edelman essay and a book review). But the bulk of the content so far has extended on what has appeared in the print journal: a conversation with Edelman, a debate between reviewer and author, a roundtable conversation between contributors to an issue.
It seems to me that these models raise questions about how a journal differentiates between exclusively online content and print content, about what type of interaction the web might productively offer a journal’s readers, and about the distribution of chosen content through open-access publication. There are surely other possibilities and questions that are going to arise as we look forward. I don’t think that we can assume that print journals will necessarily (or, at the least, immediately) become digital-born publications. So what opportunities and pitfalls should we be aware of as we think as publishers, editors, authors, librarians, and readers of scholarly journals in terms of what the digital world might offer in combination with print publication?