University of Virginia Press Joins E-Book Consortium

March 5, 2012 — The University of Virginia Press is among 70 scholarly publishers that are participating in the University Press Content Consortium. An expansion of an existing platform that offers libraries, researchers and students easy electronic access to scholarly journals, the consortium now integrates book content with the journal content on a single platform and offers readers a new way to locate and browse e-books.

The e-book collections are hosted by Johns Hopkins University Press' Project MUSE platform, a leader in online journal hosting and distribution of digital humanities and social science content for the scholarly community. Project MUSE offers content from more than 500 scholarly journals.

"What makes UPCC unique is that the university press community came together several years ago and, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, explored with our friends in the library community the possibility of building an e-book collection that would balance the financial needs of both presses and libraries," said Mark Saunders, U.Va. Press marketing director.

Launched in January, the consortium's book collections offer libraries, researchers and students access to a wealth of high-quality, book-length scholarship, fully integrated with Project MUSE's electronic journal collections. With digital books from consortium members and related scholarly publishers, the collections currently number about 14,000 titles – and more will be added in a user-friendly environment with robust search tools.

"We want to create a digital-first mindset among our community of publishers and provide services to deliver and enhance the content in new and exciting ways for the scholar," said Dean Smith, a 1985 English graduate from the College of Arts & Sciences who directs Project MUSE.

"And it's only the beginning of the change that is coming – to allow the scholar to choose the format, create the library, interact with other scholars, mine the database and annotate the works," he said. "We will be adding new titles with each season, simultaneous with their release in print, as well as gradually bringing in many of our backlist titles, so this list will be updated regularly."

Although the e-book consortium was too late to consider for the U.Va. Library's budget this year, the library's collections committee is considering several ways to purchase a subscription to the consortium in next year's budget, according to Carla Lee, head of the collections committee and director of science, engineering and education services.

"This is a high priority. It's likely to be of great interest to scholars here," she said.

U.Va. Press offers its recently published books in electronic form from online vendors, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as through the press consortium.

Saunders said the e-book consortium "supports our university press mission to disseminate scholarship widely in a fiscally sound way by including more content than a library would otherwise be able to purchase, at a license fee that meets the participating press's sustainability requirements."

– by Anne Bromley