Preserving magazines


Stacks at Doe Memorial Library on the UC Berkeley campus via Wikimedia Commons

The Digital Preservation Coalition a group of mostly British institutions is organising the first International Digital Preservation day, for November 30, 2017. Exact Editions will be contributing to the festivities with a showcase of 12 of the magazines for which we have built and maintain complete digital archives.

The Coalition has wide objectives and supports a host of differing formats and objects worthy of digital preservation, video, sound, museum objects, data in all their myriad shapes and sizes including material that has been hitherto published mainly in print form: newspapers, books and magazines. Exact Editions’ expertise lies in the digitisation and the preservation of magazines. So we focus on this area. And it is quite large enough — we believe that there are tens of thousands of magazines that merit full archives. But we start by noting that all magazines, as with books and newspapers are willy-nilly becoming digital. It is not simply a matter of preserving a digital shadow of a print original.

A generation ago magazines were only digital in small areas of their production (in the 1970s computerised typesetting and a few years later layout), whereas now the process may be thoroughly computerised and some magazines (not yet many) are purely digital from writer to reader. This process has not closely followed the same tracks as newspapers and books. Newspapers as they become digital are aiming to be more multi-edition, much more real-time, and they are embracing video, so becoming more multi-media. Books, on the other hand, have if anything become more author-focused (self-publishing is now the fastest growing part of the market) with strong emphasis on blogs, media events, revenues from audio-books and of course from ebooks. The ebook format has not had much success with magazines and video is seen as an area of major interest for relatively few types of magazine (cuisine and fashion more than literature, sport or politics). So magazines are different. Digital magazines are not behaving like digital newspapers or digital books and yet they have one huge advantage when it comes to making a digital transition.

Magazines are periodicals. Periodicals are published in issues and the issues tend to appear on a predictable regularity. This periodical, recurrent emergence of magazine issues has one terrific advantage for the digital format that magazines now invariably assume. A suitably organised digital magazine can carry its back issues with it. It can grow and it should be refreshed as new issues appear. Digital magazines can be much deeper and they can be much more permanent and continually available than print issues. A digital magazine can, and perhaps should, provide its readers with access to all the available back issues as well as the current number and, as they appear, the forthcoming issues.

Exact Editions has always been driven with the belief that the printed magazine has a strong format, and that the design and layout of the printed and illustrated magazine has to be captured digitally if the reader is to get an acceptable version of the print issues. The company also took an early (and at the time an unusual) decision that subscriptions should be viewed as including access to all available back issues. For this reason searching and arranging back issues in usable layouts and arrays has been part of our basic approach. It was this decision of building a database from earlier issues, forward to the present issue, that gradually encouraged us to build complete archives and to make them available to current subscribers. Since 2012, when with the help of the publisher we completed the archive of Gramophone (90+ years of back issues), we have been on the look out for publishers who want to provide a complete archive for an ongoing publication.

Because Exact Editions is working with publishers who are trying to build a digital audience for issues that are forthcoming, we are highly focussed on making the reading and searching process as attractive and as intuitive as possible. It would not be meeting this challenge simply to archive PDF issues of every issue (though we do encourage our publishing partners to make sure that they do indeed retain PDFs of every issue). We also work with Portico for those magazines that wish to offer Perpetual Access. PDFs are excellent as a solution for simple archival preservation, but an aggregation of 1000+ PDFs is not a user-friendly resource. For this reason the task of preserving a magazine in its entirety, with a complete archive that continues to grow, puts an extra challenge on the goal of preservation. Even when the first issue is enormously different from the current issue, compare the first issue of Gramophone with its current issue (no colour, few illustrations or ads, no links, much shorter), it is vitally important that the reader should be able to search them and approach them in the same way, within a common framework. So preservation is emphatically not just a matter of dealing with the past and with ‘back issues’. We have learned in our work with magazines that front issues become back issues and old formats need to be preserved for new readers. Building the databases and the software that does this efficiently is an ongoing challenge and one which creates an opportunity for new subscribers, and unknown readers.


The first issue of Gramophone – 1935


The latest issue of Gramophone

The International Digital Preservation day will understandably have a focus on preservation. But ‘preservation’ has to be pursued in a cultural and an educational context, this is not simply a matter of placing PDF files in digital aspic, secure formaldehyde and verified cotton wool. Exact Editions, as our name suggests, cares deeply about getting the format, the look and feel, the layout and high design all preserved as accurately as possible. But useful preservation is forward looking and has to enable and encourage, reading and research, citation and analysis. At this digital moment and for the foreseeable future this will at least mean making magazines archives available and usable through web browsers and apps for mobile devices, but the task of digital preservation moves forward. The content and the past must be preserved but it should also be useful and readable.  It is perhaps obvious that magazines written by experts such as: Prospect or Art Monthly will be of continuing scholarly interest, but it is even more probable that the back issues and the advertisements of Dazed and the Creative Review will be of great cultural and historical interest to researchers and students of fashion, culture, commerce and design.


Make the most of your Exact Editions subscription

Hi, so you’ve started your Exact Editions subscription, what next? The platform is packed with useful features created to help you explore the magazine, here are some tips on how to get started:

IP Authenticated Access
Exact Editions institutional subscriptions work using IP authenticated access, so viewing magazines is as simple as clicking a link. Make sure to share this link with your users so they can access the magazine, ideally this should be highly visible on your site to encourage usage. If you are unsure about which link you need for the resource, or would like some advice on increasing usage, please contact us via:

Searching and Browsing
Perhaps the most powerful feature of the Exact Editions platform is the ability to search complete archives by keyword, as well as supporting Boolean search. The search function of Exact Editions is designed to enhance the content of the magazines, providing a superb research tool for specific research topics.

To search a magazine, simply type in your term on the search bar and let the magic happen. For example; a reader of Creative Review may want to search for the influence of technology in the world of art. As you can see in the screenshot below, there are over 200 results for technology in the archive, which you can sort by relevance or date.


Search results for ‘Technology’ in the complete Creative Review archive

You can then click the entry which you wish to view, and the word you searched for will be highlighted in the text, see example below:


Search results for ‘Technology’ in Creative Review, February 2005, Page 40

Issue Stacking
The Exact Editions platform automatically stacks issues into chronological format, organised by the year in which they were published. This may seem like a small feature, but don’t be fooled — looking for sources on a specific era of music, historical event or artistic movement has never been easier.

The stacking feature combines perfectly with the searching function as users can search for specific terms across the entire archive, specific decades, years and issues.


Issue stacking for Sight & Sound from the 2000’s


Another excellent feature of the Exact Editions platform is that every page has its own unique URL, meaning that it couldn’t possibly be easier for students to cite their sources (so now they have no excuse!). Unique URLs also mean it is possible for users to bookmark specific pages for future browsing — which could be useful for academic research or for using the resource in a seminar/presentation.

The toolbar located at the bottom of every page offers several options to share pages by email or through Social Media channels, as well as the ability to save individual pages in PDF format for offline use.


Image showing the Unique URL, and the toolbar which is visible on every Exact Editions page

The Exact Editions App
All magazine subscriptions are available to view on Web, iOS and Android devices. This can be done by downloading the Exactly app and connecting to the institutional wi-fi. If the user is within the IP ranges provided by the institution then the magazine will appear automatically without any need to login.

The app allows users to save entire issues for offline use, making Exact Editions magazines highly portable and accessible wherever you are. Pages can be bookmarked and the search function works in the same way as the Web versions.


iPad version of Granta, including the in-app toolbar

So there you have it — a whistle stop tour of Exact Editions!

If you have any questions our subscriptions team are available at:

Ancient History Magazine: Review

Ancient History, published by Karwansaray based in the Netherlands, was added to the Exact Editions platform during October 2017. The bi-monthly magazine makes excellent use of commissioned images to complement original articles and bring the ancient world to life; this format translates beautifully to the Exact Editions platform which exactly replicates the original print version. The preservation of the magazine’s format is a very important factor for researchers and readers as it maintains the intended structure, style and visual content of the publication.

Each issue of Ancient History revolves around a specific theme, with the most recent at time of writing focusing on health and healing in antiquity. The articles are written to an academic standard with contributions from professors, research fellows and experts in the field, often discussing the latest scholarship. The entries are generally a few pages long and serve as informative and accessible introductions to the topic, suited to all levels of study. These short articles are supplemented with suggestions for further reading making the magazine a great starting point for introductory learning.

Beyond the featured theme of each issue there are also special features on niche topics of interest, for example a close examination of Rome’s Seven Hills and how that geographical feature contributed to the city’s identity. These articles cover rarely discussed topics which could inspire a new line of research at university level, or enlighten a student who is struggling to find literature surrounding their special interest. Again, for any readers wishing to explore the material further, each article comes with very useful recommended reading. Ancient History even include reviews of the books recommended in each issue so that students can be sure of the relevance and quality of the literature.

The informative Ancient History magazine is enhanced by the fluid Exact Editions platform, with technical features such as fully searchable pages and issues, access to the complete archive and shareable pages by social media and unique URLS. The advantages of being able to search every page, issue and the entire archive by keyword are manifold; however, the feature really comes into its own when searching for an obscure reference. For example see the image below, in which I searched for Apollonius and found he was mentioned in Issue 4 & Issue 5.

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Search results for ‘Apollonius’ drawn from the archived issues of Ancient History

Once the user has found the articles mentioning Apollonius, they may wish to save or share the page for future use. This can be done in several ways, either by bookmarking the unique URL, sharing the article via social media or email, or by saving the page as a PDF file. This guarantees an easy way of citing sources for essays and making use of the online magazine as a classroom resource. All of these options can be seen on the bottom toolbar of the image below.


A double page spread. Note the menu beneath the page image with options for social sharing

Overall, Ancient History offers an excellent resource for libraries looking to provide their readers with academic material covering the ancient world. The content of the magazine is written to a high standard by experts in their respective fields, accompanied by wonderful, educational imagery. The short, succinct articles offer a superb entry point for students, especially with the additional recommended reading which points readers in the right direction for future research. The technical features of the Exact Editions platform complement the subject material of Ancient History very usefully, offering a variety of shortcuts and additional features which provide a level of versatility above and beyond the print version.

Ancient History is now available on Web, iOS and Android platforms for institutions:

Exact Editions — Library Blog

Welcome to the inaugural blog post in a new library-focused series by Exact Editions. The frequent posts will be covering any Exact Editions news relevant to librarians, including; technical developments, new content releases and thought pieces on issues within the library community.

The Library Advisory Board

Exact Editions are a provider of digital magazine and book subscriptions to academic, public and corporates libraries around the world. Operating within such a dynamic field requires an in-depth knowledge of the industry in order to best serve the library community. At Exact Editions, we figured that the best way to understand the fast moving library landscape both on a technological level and on a business level, was to ask the librarians. So we enlisted the wise counsel of several leading librarians and industry professionals to create the Library Advisory Board. The board is made up of nine members, who will be consulted on a bi-annual basis to provide their thoughts on two of three specific topics.

The Members

Bill Maltarich, Collection Management Librarian at NYU

Ian Robson, Head of Collection Development at University of Waterloo

Liisa Mobley, Electronic Resources Unit Supervisor at Cornell University

Peter Brantley, Director of Online Strategy at University of California, Davis

Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections at University of Utah

Gary Price, Editor at Infodocket

Hazel Woodward, Director at Information Power

Jill O’Neill, Educational Programs Manager at NISO

Judy Luther, President at Informed Strategies

The Story So Far

Exact Editions share the same objective as libraries and librarians; to preserve and distribute written material with the intention of educating future generations. The aim of the Library Advisory Board is to use the expertise of the members to assist Exact Editions in making informed decisions regarding policy changes. Through this relationship we hope to augment our pre-existing knowledge of the industry, with a particular focus on technology, accessibility, preservation and future challenges. Questions will be asked on a bi-annual basis, and will focus on issues particularly potent for Exact Editions at that period of time. We hope that the process will be mutually beneficial for both parties, as librarians will be able to vocalise their needs and contribute to a service which is ultimately designed for them, and Exact Editions will benefit from the advice offered by individuals working inside the industry.

Feedback from our first round of questions has been incredibly useful, and we are already working on implementing suggestions concerning discovery and visibility of resources. Exact Editions titles are now mostly integrated into the major discovery tools commonly used by librarians, making us easier to find. In an effort to assist the decision making process regarding new purchases, we are offering 30-day trial subscriptions for all of the titles on our website, to allow librarians to explore the platform and magazine content before committing resources.

You can expect blog posts in the near future about our progress regarding MARC Records, Perpetual Access and Exact Editions usage statistics becoming Counter compliant. Furthermore, we have a wave of new content across a vast range of specialised subject areas in the pipeline, which will be of interest to libraries looking to improve their online resource offerings.

Finally, Exact Editions would like to say that we are very grateful for the contribution of time and effort by the Library Advisory Board members. We are always searching for ways to improve our services and to have direct contact with professionals in the library community is extremely helpful.


The Philosopher’s Magazine: an appreciation


The Philosopher’s Magazine now has its complete archive available for institutions on the Exact Editions platform with access via the web, iOS and android phones and tablets. The first issue was published in 1997 and the 80th issue of the quarterly publication will appear early in 2018. The magazine publishes articles of deep philosophical interest in an accessible and non-technical way. James Garvey is the current editor and Julian Baggini the founding editor, their rubric is to publish “philosophy that’s clear, thought-provoking, and relevant. The contributors are mainly professional philosophers who care about good writing and about being understood”. The editors and the magazine has thus been a steady exemplar of public philosophy on matters of general interest in ways that are appealing both to specialists and students of philosophy as well as the general public.

The quarterly issues are assembled around themes which can be controversial ‘Is it wrong to have children?’, ‘Must we do more: the west and global poverty’, ‘The gene genie’, ‘You ‘re being watched — surveillance and privacy’; but they can also bring us contemporary takes on classic issues: ‘Skepticism’, ‘Paradoxes’, ‘Facing death’, and ‘Serious sex’. Viewed as an educational resource, the complete archive to The Philosophers’ Magazine provides universities, colleges and schools with an accessible, serious and yet also entertaining window on philosophical research and contemporary work. The editors and contributors are for the most part from the analytic tradition, mainstream in English speaking universities, but with an open-ness to global culture, especially through art, science, sport and ideology. Every issue has reviews of books, films or exhibitions of philosophical interest. The magazine has regular forums where reader-generated questions are debated. Major thinkers: Bernard Williams, Gerald Cohen, Martha Nussbaum, Ronald Dworkin, Rae Langton, Timothy Williamson and Dan Dennett, have all been interviewed.

Since there is really quite a lot of philosophy in the complete archive, over 3 million words, and since the enthusiast might happily spend hours browsing through the back issues, it is helpful and even necessary that the Exact Editions platform provides some powerful browsing and searching tools. Browsing is easily and intuitively facilitated by the ‘stacking’ of quarterly issues, or even decades of issues into piles that the user selects and opens. The individual issues can be viewed as thumbnails whereby individual pages, especially those with illustrations seize the attention. Searching is accomplished using a simple and standard Google-style Boolean logic, one that connects search terms into logical expressions, so that a search across the whole archive for ‘Frege’ finds 63 hits, ‘Frege -Kant’ (ie Frege but not Kant) finds 48 hits , and ‘Frege +Kant’ (ie Frege with Kant) finds 15. Frege and Boole would surely have been pleased to see their logic being used to such accurate, mathematical and computational effect. Individual issues and groups of issues can also be searched separately.

In the educational context the digital magazine has several modes for sharing, commenting, referencing and printing content. The bottom line is that every digital page is exactly like the corresponding print page and so a persistent URL which guarantees that citation, sharing, printing and bookmarking all hits the same persisting target — a URL that corresponds to the print.


A double page spread. Note the menu beneath the page image with options for social sharing

Institutional licenses to The Philosophers’ Magazine are campus-wide and multi-user. Users of the college or school library system can access the resource through the network’s IP addresses. This connectivity also applies to the apps which run on iOS and android devices, so students can be encouraged to access the resource via the TPM app. Any committed honours student of philosophy should be encouraged to download and use the app, that way she will get off-campus access when she has synced issues to the device, and she will be prompted to take a look at the contents page when new issues are published. The Philosophers’ Magazine is primarily as a reference resource and a campus-wide asset but it is also a refreshing companion and thought provoker for the individual student of philosophy. The Philosophers’ Magazine also stays fully in touch with the latest and fascinating branches of philosophical speculation, and if you did not know why cephalopods are of deep philosophical interest you must read this review of a new book by the Australian philosopher Peter Godfrey Smith: Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.