Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Maintaining Serendipity: Entire Issues of JEP for your E-reader

Back in 2010, the American Economic Association decided to make the articles in my own Journal of Economic Perspectives freely available, ungated and without a password. At present, the issues from the most recent Winter 2012 back to Winter 1994 are freely available on-line.

A new feature is now available. Until now, what has been available is a list of individual articles. However, you can now freely download the entire Winter 2012 issue of JEP in various formats: PDF, Kindle, and ePub. Moreover, if you want entire issues of JEP automatically delivered to your Kindle, it is now possible to subscribe through Amazon. (Amazon doesn't provide free distribution service, but the AEA has negotiated to keep the price as low as possible.)

I was strongly in favor of making the JEP freely available, so that the articles could be widely disseminated and easily linked. However, I have had some concern that if a journal becomes just a collection of downloadable articles, readers might be less likely to sample individual articles within an issue, instead of just focusing in on the specific article that they want. But the technology for e-readers is moving faster than my fears. I suspect that in the not-too-distant future, most of us will receive most of our magazines and journals sent straight to the e-reader of our choice, fully formatted, and with graphics and ads included. The potential for serendipity--finding that intriguing article for which you didn't know that you were looking--will be maintained.