“As the preference for accessing research online eclipses the demand for print access, the electronic scholarly monograph, readable on an e-reader and/or searchable on a computer, is coming to play a much more significant role in research and scholarship.”
Libraries, Scholars, and Publishers in Digital Journal and Monograph Publishing.
While many will agree that monographs in digital format can offer far more options for readers and authors, there are also legitimate reasons for sticking to the traditional print format. But instead of choosing one instead of the other, some presses and authors are actually publishing in a hybrid format … and that’s where companion websites can become the medium for providing others (readers, scholars, students, etc.) with additional and freely accessible content beyond the copyrighted text. A good example of “why and how” a companion website for print books is probably the Digital Companion for the book How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis by N. Katherine Hayles.
For us at Miami University Libraries, our call for something like this came about a year ago when Dr. Katie Johnson, Associate Professor of English, asked us if we can work with her in creating a companion website for her recent book Sex for Sale: Six Progressive-Era Brothel Dramas (University of Iowa Press, 2015). Of course, our response was “yes” … mainly because this type of digital and faculty-driven project is a good example of the type of digital scholarship projects we support in the Center for Digital Scholarship. This project was also unique as it exemplified the potential and benefits of digital publishing and collaborative work among scholars, students, and librarians.
We believe creating companion sites like this one for print publications can truly benefit readers as they get richer/updated/dynamic content, and authors also benefit as they have more options for extending the reach of their research. We were in charge of the technical side of the project, major activities included: setting up a WordPress site on a library server, installing custom plugins and themes, modifying the WordPress software to produce a clean and user-friendly interface and putting in place an organization structure for the site’s content.
We are extremely proud to be part of this innovative project and were happy to blend our experience in setting up and designing the system with the content expertise and scholarship of Dr. Johnson and her team. This kind of rich collaboration is an essential part of the services that are offered by the Center for Digital Scholarship and we are very pleased with the creative outcome.