« Project MUSE Renewals and Orders | Main | New Britannica Online Academic Edition Interface »

E-Book Collections Coming to Project MUSE Platform

from Project MUSE:

Project MUSE, a leading provider of humanities and social science periodical content for libraries, is very pleased to announce a new initiative to incorporate scholarly book content into its research platform and product offerings. Beginning next year, e-book collections will be available for purchase alongside MUSE journal collections, with an integrated discovery environment that allows for browsing and searching journal and book content side-by-side.

MUSE, a collaborative project which currently publishes online over 450 journals from more than 100 not-for-profit scholarly presses, will partner with many of the same publishers to offer high quality, peer-reviewed academic books electronically. Project MUSE is managed by the Johns Hopkins University Press, which also operates Hopkins Fulfillment Services (HFS) as a distribution arm for many distinguished university presses. HFS client presses are also among the first group of publishers committed to participating in the new book initiative.

The e-books program, called Project MUSE Editions, has to date signed contracts with the following publishers to include in the new offering books from their upcoming scholarly monograph frontlists: Baylor University Press, Brookings Institution Press, ELT Press, Indiana University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, Kent State University Press, Penn State University Press, Purdue University Press, and University of Illinois Press. Talks are ongoing with several other MUSE and HFS client publishers, with more participants expected to be announced before the end of this year.

"For fifteen years, MUSE has successfully brought together publishers and libraries to develop a sustainable, innovative model for digital scholarly publishing," explains Dean J. Smith, Director of Project MUSE. "Our future lies in leveraging our trusted relationships with both our library customers and participating presses into new product offerings that recognize the shared challenges faced by both these constituencies. And, our user community will benefit greatly from the integrated research opportunities presented by putting university press book content online alongside MUSE's well-respected journal collections."

Publishers participating in the program will select and set prices for the frontlist books they offer through MUSE e-book collections. The initiative is focused on scholarly monographs, and is not expected to include textbooks, reference books, trade titles or other books outside the project scope. Project MUSE will reserve the right to reject books that do fit within its collection parameters.

Kathleen Keane, Director of The Johns Hopkins University Press and immediate past president of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), comments, "The economic challenges facing academic libraries and university press book publishers are well known. We think that a well-planned initiative like Project MUSE Editions, which has been developed with advice from many creative colleagues and customers, has the opportunity both to distribute academic titles more widely and to test a new business model."

Book content on MUSE will be offered via a purchase model, on a twice-yearly seasonal (Spring/Fall) basis. Libraries will "pre-purchase" access to a collection of the frontlist monograph titles included in the upcoming season's publishing schedule from the participating publishers. Details on the books included in the collection will be available prior to the purchase. Books will be released electronically simultaneous with the print publication, and libraries that have purchased a collection including the title will have immediate access on the MUSE platform.

MUSE expects to offer its first e-book collection for the Fall 2011 season, with between 250-500 frontlist monograph titles anticipated for inclusion in the collection. If there is a critical mass of titles in one or more academic disciplines, subject-based book collections may also be made available for the Fall 2011 season. Beginning with Spring 2012, MUSE expects to consistently offer both comprehensive and subject-based e-book collections for purchase.

Pricing for book collections on MUSE will be based upon the sum of the list prices of the included titles, as set by the books' publishers, with tiered discounting of the collection price modeled upon MUSE's Carnegie Classification-based tiered pricing for its journal collections. Consortium purchase programs will also be available.

Books on MUSE will be in PDF format, and will be searchable and retrievable to the chapter level. COUNTER-compliant usage statistics will be available to libraries purchasing book collections on MUSE. MARC records for the e-books will be provided to purchasing libraries at no charge. Users will be able to search across combined book and journal content in MUSE, or limit searches by content type.

MUSE's focus is on offering digital book collections at reasonable prices, much as it has done successfully with journal content for many years, and the initial phase of the program does not include individual book title purchase options. A separate initiative is underway to examine the possibility of an offering of backlist e-books from the participating Project MUSE Editions publishers. Further information on a potential e-book backlist product will be available sometime in 2011.

Users and libraries may expect to see "beta" digital books on MUSE as soon as the first quarter of 2011. Project MUSE plans to formally debut the e-book collections, and provide information on specific titles and pricing for the Fall 2011 offering, at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Meeting in late March 2011.