Exact Editions 2017 — It’s a Wrap!

First set

With a new year on the horizon, now is the perfect time to kick back, relax and bunker down for winter. But before you do that, it’s worth thinking about how much you’ve achieved this year and what you can do better next year.

Exact Editions can look back at 2017 fondly as a record-breaking number of libraries around the world are now accessing magazines and their archives using the platform. We have been exceptionally busy from January to December; acquiring a plethora of new and diverse titles (which we’re showing off in this post), developing extensive archives, adding useful technical features; and, of course, starting this new blog stream for librarians!

Second set

As you can see, there has been an increased focus on engagement with our users and improving the user experience. For example, check out our blog detailing the best ways to make the most of your Exact Editions subscription: The Holy Grail.

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Some of our 2017 highlights:

  • Perpetual Access — Several more magazines are now available to purchase with Perpetual Access. Exact Editions offer a uniquely comprehensive product for libraries, with purchases including the complete archive of the magazine as well as all future issues.
    The full list of participating publishers can be found here: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/showcases/perpetual
  • Library Board — This year, Exact Editions have enlisted the wisdom of several leading librarians and industry experts, who will be consulted on a bi-annual basis to offer thoughts on two or three important topics.
    You can read the introductory blog post here.
  • K-Bart — With improved metadata offerings, Exact Editions are continuously working to ensure that our content is becoming increasingly straightforward to find within library management systems. We’re doing whatever we can to make your lives just that little bit easier!

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So, what’s in the pipeline for 2018?

  • MARC Records — MARC Records are available for all our titles and can be requested from the start of 2018. This should improve Exact Editions’ catalogue compatibility and discoverability, which in turn should raise usage statistics and content visibility.
  • COUNTER Compliant Usage Statistics — Speaking of usage, another primary goal of 2018 will be to make our stats available on COUNTER. We are aware this is a favoured platform for librarians, and we are keen to migrate our statistics over to COUNTER so that we can offer as much transparency as possible.
  • Library Q&A thread — We will be conducting brief interviews with librarians to talk about periodicals, the growth of digital resources and what they hope for in the future. Would you like to participate? Get in touch with us to give your opinions on the industry.
  • RA21 — Exact Editions very recently attended a conference about the RA21 project, which aims to optimise institutional access to online resources, with a particular focus on remote usage. We will continue to keep updated with potential alternatives to IP-authentication in 2018 and will post any news on our blog.
    Read more about RA21 here: https://ra21.org/index.php/what-is-ra21/
  • Content Acquisition — As always there will be a strong drive for new content on the site across a variety of subjects. If there’s a particular magazine you’d like to see on the platform in 2018, why not recommend it to us via: institutions@exacteditions.com.

We’ll be back in 2018 with regular updates.

From everyone at Exact Editions, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Preservation of magazine content and its accessibility

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Reading-Room of the Boston Public Library, 1871 Wikimedia Commons

Clifford Lynch has just published a thoughtful and carefully researched article on Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”. Lynch’s central claim is that the web, algorithm-based institutions and our contemporary social media are in practical terms impossible to archive and preserve via traditional approaches. The traditional approaches that he has in mind are ‘format migration’ and ‘emulation’, but he appears to suggest that these are alternative approaches when they are essentially complementary. In fact one cannot have format migration without emulation, and any software emulation requires appropriate file format inputs. Lynch gives us a handy explanation of the format migration strategy:

The traditional models of digital archiving are twofold: format migration and emulation. Both, of course, assume a substrate, which is now relatively well understood and implemented with a fairly high degree of confidence, assuming reasonably consistent and continuous funding, of bit-level preservation by migration from one storage technology to the next as necessary [19]. The first approach, format migration, is best suited to “document-like” objects: PDFs, Microsoft Word files, audio, video, XML, JPEG, TIFF, etc. Here the idea is that, as standards, or de facto standards, gradually evolve and the ecosystem to deal with those types of files shift, curators will migrate the file formats, but this strategy is not necessarily as simple as it seems. New file formats are often not isomorphic to older ones. Formats may be proprietary and/or undocumented, and even objects claiming to conform to well-known standards may not implement these standards correctly or may add proprietary extensions. Lynch:Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”

While this may be a small correction to Lynch’s overall argument, it points to an important consequence. In digital culture, preservation — even of traditional cultural objects — is not a closed process. Once we aim to preserve analog or primarily physical cultural objects (for example photographs or books or magazines) in digital repositories and databases we are implicitly committed to an ongoing task of enabling and facilitating new forms of access. Precisely because our digital culture and our innovative technological mix will be inventing new ways of interacting with and enjoying these traditional cultural objects. Nor is it a settled or obvious question how these improvements and developments should be pursued.

This need for an ongoing commitment to preservation struck at Exact Editions very early in our development. We firmly believe that magazines, books and newspapers are all becoming more digital, but we also took it as an article of faith that back issues and archives have important and valuable content that should be available to digital subscribers, so our solutions whether through web browsers or via apps on smartphones and tablets have always ensured that archives and back issues are accessible to the subscribers of current issues. Just as the software of a digital magazine has to welcome and display each new issue, so its database should reach back and awaken back issues that in a print culture are usually filed inertly and inaccessibly on shelves or forgotten heaps.

The digital transition is nevertheless very real. Although the magazines that users read on their branded apps, are in one way strictly equivalent to the printed versions that they might have read in the Boston Library public reading room or Viennese cafes in the 19th century (with those bamboo frames that we still sometimes see) yet the reading experience and the arrangement of the digital editions is very different. It is only with a digital app or a web browser that one could expect to see all the decades or years of a magazine’s issues tidily piled up on a virtual desk. This stacking of issues emulates in a virtual form the tidy arrangement which would be quite hard to achieve with printed issues: and from most points of view it is a much handier solution than the collection of previous issues in carton sorters.

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Slightly Foxed — incomplete archive on a physical desktop

Digital archiving even of historic and contemporary print formats is not easy; but it is both obviously possible and culturally necessary. The 12 complete magazine archives which are showcased in celebration of International Digital Preservation Day #IDPD17 are all growing and their preservation needs in 5 or 10 years time may be unanticipated by their current formats and their existing software. By then we hope to have found out what it is that mixed reality, block chains and machine learning are surely going to teach us. And the archives may in one way look the same, but they may behave a little differently.

 

PN Review Launches Digital Archive!

PN Review launches through Exact Editions its unique digital archive – almost half a century of world poetry, interviews, reviews and features about modern poetry: ‘The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK’s poetry magazines’ (Simon Armitage).

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The archive includes the major practitioners of the age from Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn and Seamus Heaney to John Ashbery, Les Murray and Eavan Boland, and many new arrivals. PN Review ‘discovered’ and first published ample selections of Andrew Motion, Sujata Bhatt, Sinead Morrissey and Kei Miller, Tara Bergin and Vahni Capildeo. It is the major British poetry journal of our time, with a strong international focus, alert to the opportunities and threats facing the art and the reader today.

Digital subscribers have unlimited access to this astonishing resource dating back to 1972, with hundreds of interviews and features. It is a map of modern poetry and at the same time a compelling history.

As a digital subscriber to PN Review, you have unlimited access to the full archive. Explore today.

 

How do you digitise a magazine archive?

                                                                                A selection of Opera back issues.

This year brings us the first International Digital Preservation Day — a celebration of materials preserved by digital conservation. Exact Editions aims to mark the day by exhibiting notable pages from 12 of their most ambitious archive projects. Explore original writings by young American novelists in a 1979 issue of Granta, or view the world through a lens of pre-war wanderlust, in the first ever issue of Geographical (1935). These back issues are wonderfully preserved, simulating the original print format, including original advertisements, covers, and yet the aim of Exact Editions extends beyond preservation. Their platform is refined, providing auxiliary benefits for users and researchers alike, including comprehensive search functions, and social media integration, as well as the opportunity for publishers to host pictures and videos alongside their magazines.

So how are these digital archives created? The Exact Editions Production team works with both publishing and scanning partners to bring archives to fruition; the first step — to assess how many print back issues will need to be scanned. Exact Editions currently works with two scanning partners: Cleardata Document Scanning Services, for destructible scanning projects (i.e. print issues that can be cut down the spine), and The British Library for publications that need to remain intact, or as a resource to find otherwise extinct back issues. For example, the scanning of Creative Review, a recent project launched earlier this year, was conducted entirely by the British Library, and most of its back issues sourced within the library itself.

                                                                        A selection of Creative Review back issues.

Once Exact Editions has received the scanned files for a particular archive, the Production team undergoes an extensive process of quality control. This involves ensuring that the pagination of each issue is correct, that pages are cropped and all advertisements and covers, including back covers, are present — Exact Editions likes to replicate the original print format wherever possible. The Production department also ensures that all files are fully OCR’d (i.e. the text recognised) so that the archive will lend itself to advanced search tools and linking facilities. Once uploaded to our platform, the Production team processes each issue individually, ensuring that contents pages are linked, and arranging the issues chronologically.

When it comes to launching an archive, Exact Editions organises an integrated digital push, comprised of several key promotional activities. These include an initial press release, distributed to an extensive list of contacts within the publishing community, as well as a push through social media channels, aimed at both the consumer and library markets. Exact Editions also provides a marketing resource pack for publishers, including promotional images, and demo video, as well as offering copywriting advice for publisher websites, newsletters or email marketing. The Marketing team later initiates a comprehensive email marketing campaign, in order to drive up subscriptions, and generate sales for the publisher.

From its print conception, to digital launch, the Exact Editions team ensures that a magazine’s archive is preserved to the highest standard, meeting the demand, particularly in the library market, for digital historical content. Exact Editions is a unique company, it’s aims twofold: to preserve the original “look” and format of a magazine’s archive, and to improve a user’s reading experience with advanced digital features. It is in this vein that Exact Editions celebrates Digital Preservation Day 2017.

Exact Editions – IDPD17

This year brings us the inaugural International Digital Preservation Day, organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and supported by digital preservation networks, institutions and universities world-wide. The commendable drive behind IDPD17 is to encourage institutions and individuals to celebrate resources which have been preserved and to encourage initiatives to be taken for the future.

Exact Editions works to build, preserve and deliver complete online archives for libraries and individual subscribers. The aim is to make every magazine on the platform fully searchable, easy to access and as readable as the print version, serving to secure objects of cultural importance for future generations.

To read more about the cultural importance of magazines, and why they should be preserved, take a look at this post: https://blog.exacteditions.com/2017/11/28/preserving-magazines/

The digitisation of an archive involves numerous challenges such as; creating a fluid platform on which to view the archive and maintaining a perfect digital standard through quality control. At Exact Editions the production team has mastered this process so that thousands of pages are now safe, saved from their perilous paper existence.

To see all the work which goes into digitising an archive, look out for our forthcoming blog to be released on digital preservation day!

When we heard about IDPD17, Exact Editions, and our publishing partners, were very keen to join the digital celebration — and we know you can’t turn up to a digital preservation party without bringing your own bytes to eat. So in the spirit of this digital fiesta we’ve opened up 36 issues to the public for a one month period. Twelve of our publisher partners have kindly allowed us to open three issues from their beautiful magazines.

You can browse these windows into cultural history here: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/showcases/idpd2017

Every single page, issue, year, decade and archive is fully searchable by keyword on the Exact Editions platform. So make sure to explore the free issues in their entirety and have fun with the platform. For example; the 1999 issue of New Internationalist which covers the Radical Twentieth Century surely must mention Che Guevara, right?

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Search results for ‘Che Guevara’ in the January 1999 issue of New Internationalist

Make the most of our easy-to-use toolbar which is located at the bottom of every page on the website. Share your favourite pages on social media channels, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us in any pages which catch your eye!

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Moonlight feature from the March 2017 issue of Sight & Sound

Jokes and freebies aside, Digital Preservation is a potent issue in the modern world. We have the unprecedented opportunity to preserve our history and culture for the future, and Exact Editions is proud to participate in an event dedicated to crystallising our digital legacy.

If you want to hear more from us, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/exacteditions

To see what other magazines we work with, visit our shop pages:

Individual Shop: https://shop.exacteditions.com/ 
Institutional Shop: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/