Early December is one of my favourite times of year. This is when the Online Information exhibition is held – the annual jamboree of information stuff for the digerati. It gives a snapshot of the information world and is always interesting. I first visited in 1979 and in most years since I have attended the exhibition (not the conference, which is rather expensive).
It is held at Olympia, concurrently with an information management event, IMS and together they
create the largest event dedicated to the information industry … an exhibition delivering over 9,000 visitors from 70 countries, a conference and a show floor seminar programme … an annual meeting place for the global information industry.
Over the last few years it has been noticeable that the exhibition has shrunk, as the industry undergoes consolidation and structural changes. This year, with the economic crunch, that trend was more pronounced. Elsevier had a tiny stand, contrasting with their usual lavish presence at the exhibition. The British Libary stand also seemed smaller than I recall from past years. Chemical Abstracts, who used to be one the mainstays, had no display at all in the exhibition. The part of the exhibition dealing with content management and online publishing tools seems still healthy, though I don’t follow that part so closely.
I went to a couple of interesting (free) talks on open access from opposite poles of the OA spectrum: one given by Matt Cockerill from Biomedcentral, and one by David Hoole from Nature Publishing Group. Matt gave an overview of OA developments in the last 12 months, focusing on the work that OASPA have been doing to raise standards in OA publishing. Two high-profile new members of OASPA were announced – BMJ Group and Oxford Univ Press. I was interested to note that Bentham Science had a stand at the exhibition again. They have a had a few credibility problems recenly, to put it mildly. I don’t think they are members of OASPA. I half expected to see irate protesters with placards parading by their stand.
David Hoole talked about Nature Communications, launching in April 2010, as featured elsewhere on NN. As the first Nature-branded title to offer a paid OA option this has attracted a good deal of interest. David mentioned that they have had 100 submissions already – about 60% biomed, 30% phsyical and 10% chem, in line with Nature weekly. Out of all these 20% want to take up the paid OA option. He also mentioned that they are aiming for an imoact factor of around 15 – respectable but not stratospheric.
I also went to an excellent talk by Kristen Fisher Ratan, from Highwire Press, about ebooks. I was very interested to hear that Highwire are looking around at the ebook market to see what opportunities there may be. Highwire understand what researchers want, and have a refreshingly open approach to publishing. Worth keeping an eye on their ebook activities I think. Thus far they are just observing and analysing, but Kristen seems quite canny.
There were several other ebook talks, though some were thinly disguised commercial plugs, and quite a few of the publishers stands in the exhibition were showing off their ebook wares.
If you want to go along to the Exhibition it is free, but you have missed it – next one will be December 2010. Put it in your diary now.
P.S. You can see tweets from the exhibition and conference on Twitter.