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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

09.03.2010 | TAB:

Broaden the availability of book publications via the internet

TAB starts a distribution experiment with the scientific publishing house edition sigma.

The Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) has agreed to the implementation of a distribution experiment with the scientific publishing house edition sigma.

The goal of the experiment is to combine different types of electronic distribution pathways with traditional channels of book distribution and to observe their mutual positive and negative influence. The issues of the TAB publication series published by edition sigma will be available for download – after a period of grace of six months.

In cooperation with the Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), TAB devised this experiment together with the Berlin based scientific publishing house edition sigma. ITAS and TAB have established three series of books at edition sigma that are now available as follows:

1. The ITAS series »Gesellschaft - Technik - Umwelt« (comes with 12 volumes to date) can be purchased in addition to the usual book distribution as an E-Book via the internet at a reduced price.

2. 29 issues of the TAB series “Studien des Büros für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag“ are available as PDF-files for download on the websites of ITAS and TAB. New publications will also be available for download after a waiting period of six months.

3. The ITAS series “Globale zukunftsfähige Entwicklung” (comes with 14 volumes to date) is marketed as printed book only at the bookseller's and represents the control group of this experiment.

A common feature for all book series is, that they will be offered on the homepages of ITAS, TAB or edition sigma with enriched information and additional functions: To mention is e.g. an information text or a book summary, the table of content or a preface. Links lead directly to search catalogues of libraries, to order facilities at publishers or bookstores as well as to search engines of GoogleBooks and Libreka.

On the background of the experiment: Predicament of the bookselling trade

This experiment is motivated by the increasing difficulties that distributors of books are facing today. Decreasing sales revenues could lead to higher book prices or to a decline of the publisher’s effort in quality assurance or marketing, both measures that could further restrict the opportunities for distribution. The pressure on book distributors is further increased by other factors: library budgets are to date primarily used to procure electronic journals and specialized information databases, while the contingent for books is getting smaller. Science policy and the manifold instances of evaluation are based predominantly on scientific publications in international refereed journals while credits one gains for book publications are decreasing. Freely accessible publications via the internet may be reached by far more interested readers as this is conceivable by book sales.

Nevertheless: Scientific book publications are an appropriate medium of publication to treat subjects comprehensively and in their broad context. The aim of the collaboration with book distributors is quality enrichment in content, design and distribution of research results. We believe that books are a comfortable reader- and user-friendly format, which is still superior in many aspects to electronic books. Finally, books are embedded in a grown book trade and library infrastructure that ensures their accessibility in the future.

The experiment will run for three years. Since many irrepressible factors affect the success of a book, probably not all raised questions can be answered satisfactorily. Nevertheless we are confident that we will gain more insights into displacement, coexistence or promotion of the different distribution pathways at the end of the three years.

For question and comments please contact (riehm@tab-beim-bundestag.de) (TAB and ITAS) or Rainer Bohn (verlag@edition-sigma.de).

Informations about the books

in ITAS and TAB

in edition sigma