Beginning of the End for ACS Journal Print Editions

June 17, 2009

The most recent C&EN contains this tidbit - and this time it's no joke:

Although demand for the Web editions of American Chemical Society journals is growing, demand for print editions has declined sharply. This trend is prompting the society to change the format and dissemination of its printed issues. In July, ACS will begin publishing the print editions of most of its journals in a "rotated and condensed" format that will fit two pages of content on one printed page.

It's not totally clear what "rotated and condensed" means, but if it's what I'm thinking, ACS might as well stop the printing presses now. I've run across one or two of these "rotated and condensed" journals - and they are barely usable. The "rotated" part means that holding the thing feels like you're flipping through a calendar. The "condensed" part means that you'll need a magnifying glass to read captions and other small text.

Then there's the "cheesiness" factor. None of the journals printing in a "rotated and condensed" format were ever held in very high regard - or any regard for that matter. The power of cheesiness to start an uncontrollable chain reaction should not be underestimated. Just ask these guys:

The chemistry publication landscape has been changing for the last several years. The move by ACS to phase out print journals is but one more sign. Can the ACS pull off the transition away from print? Only time will tell, but recent history suggests the odds are not good.