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Reviews go 'Online First'


The fact that you’re reading this now, in October, when our Twitter followers learned of it in August when it happened, neatly illustrates the point I am about to make. Announcements of the death of print have been exaggerated beyond all reason since online publication first became ‘a thing’. As with all media revolutions, the way this one is playing out is turning out to depend on how readers use publications, and the particular advantages offered by different methods of delivery

One obvious bonus of online publication (there are many others) is immediacy. To a print magazine with a lead-time of one to two months (and, for some slots with long waiting lists, like Books & Arts, considerably longer than that) the chance to get time-sensitive material into the public domain early is irresistible.

With so many new avenues of communication opening up, the print version of Geoscientist has had to adapt and respond. We have stopped, for example, running ‘GeoNews’ pages in the print mag; and our obituaries, which are published at a maximum rate of two per month, have been published ‘online first’ for several years.

As the magazine has shifted its emphasis towards long-form writing, review and opinion, we have found ourselves faced one of those problems of success - so much more pleasant to have to deal with than the other sort. The growing popularity of our reviews section has led to the submission of even more books for review. Since we are limited in print to a maximum of four per month, a considerable backlog of reviewed titles has lately begun to build up.

A recent survey of reviews in hand and in prep revealed that we had a queue six months long, with a further 18 months’ worth of books currently out there with our volunteer reviewers. Clearly, something had to be done.

So, on August 13, ‘Geoscientist Reviews Online’ went live. Thenceforth, as with obituaries, all reviews of books, plays, films and other arts have been posted online as soon as they are received. This new system will also allow us to be a little more selective about the reviews that are eventually given space in print, and so help us ease the backlog further.

We know you value your print Geoscientist, and (as with all ‘non-essential’ reading matter) print still offers the only viable medium. We expect it to remain so. Meanwhile, we shall continue to make the most of online opportunities, to bring you an ever better service.



@TedNield @geoscientistmag