Robert Darnton

Holding the odd bestseller aside, the digital disruption of the print world that is transforming commercial publishing also affects publishers of scholarly books and journals-and is changing structures for teaching, research, and hiring and promoting professors. Time-honored traditions appear vulnerable to overhaul or even extinction. Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library and Larsen librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, says, "We are still in the Wild West of sorting out how we will communicate our academic developments effectively." Consider the situation of academic presses.

From an article in Publishers Weekly: Scholar and Harvard University librarian Robert Darnton vowed that the Digital Public Library of America, a nonprofit, nationwide effort to digitize and offer access to millions of free, digitized books and special collections would launch by April of 2013. “I make this promise to you,” Darnton said at the close [...]

It's been more than a decade since the first mass of commercial Web sites were launched and far longer since people began predicting the extinction of print. In March 1999, Princeton University history professor Robert Darnton wrote an article in the New York Review of Books that read: Marshall McLuhan's future has not happened. The Web, yes; global immersion in television, certainly; media and messages everywhere, of course. But the electronic age did not drive the printed word into extinction, as McLuhan prophesied in 1962. McLuhan, an English professor, media analyst and book author, predicted the demise of the printed word 43 years

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