In 2024, The Annals of Emergency Medicine—probably the most prestigious academic journal in my field—will go digital only. No more print copies in our inboxes at home or at work. No more piles of read and unread back issues in our offices, bedrooms, and bathrooms. (You know it’s true.)
I’m a believer in “chance discovery.” I wonder if newspaper editors have a plan in mind when the format is laid out. Nowadays instead of discovery by chance, readers are presented with AI generated suggestions. I don’t think that’s necessarily an improvement.
Confession: I still enjoy walking out the door in the morning to pick up my newspaper, and I also enjoy receiving the latest editions of JAMA and the Annals of Internal Medicine by snail mail. But I’m a dinosaur!
I think it's probably inevitable for exactly the reasons you say, but I do think we'll lose the benefit of serendipity from randomly browsing old paper copies that are lying around: PubMed is a great way to find whatever I specifically seek but lacks the element of serendipity.
I still miss stopping by the New Journals Shelf at the University Library back in Antidiluvian Times.
You nailed it!
I am in the same boat of ambivalence. I strongly prefer reading print editions of the journals, but realize how wasteful that can be, and along with all the other advantages you cite, I have opted to receive all of my professional publications electronically only. Quick question: Do you have a sense of how much of a burden/cost it is for journals to allow on-demand publication of a journal issue or specific articles for folks who want that?
Of course your reasons for digital editions replacing print are correct. Eventually, there will not be any printed books nor magazines. People in publishing do not want to admit that this is the future, and physical libraries of books are going away. I was a bookseller, and have a library of three thousand books, but I know, my books are antiques, and for all the reasons that med journals are becoming digital, books will follow.