Monday, January 12, 2009

Ending the paper JFPs / Proceedings And Addresses

If you're an APA member, they mail you 4 paper copies of Jobs for Philosophers and three book-shaped copies of the Proceedings and Addresses of the APA (one for each division's annual meeting) each year. I imagine that a big chunk of the APA membership fee goes towards funding the creation and distribution of all this paper.

In our internet-enabled times, I don't see good reason for mailing out all this stuff. The electronic versions of the Proceedings and Addresses are just plain easier to use -- you can instantly keyword search them with Ctrl-F and remind yourself when the session you want to heckle is meeting. If there's some way to push the APA to move to an online-only format, I'd be happy to do my part in the pushing. I'm guessing that the money we save by doing this could be put to better use creating public goods of some kind or another. Or you could just cut the membership fees.

Possible reasons that we're sticking with paper:
-There are some ads in the Proceedings and Addresses that may not translate very well to internet form (the JFP is all classified ads which should translate just fine to the internet with no revenue loss.) But I can't imagine that the revenue stream here is big enough to justify huge amounts of paper.

-Old-timers may not like the internet. But is that really such a big constituency these days? And if they don't like looking at screens, will they really be so unhappy to use their printers and print stuff?

-Paper copies of the Proceedings and Addresses are also used as programs at the conferences, and then economies of scale make it not such a bad deal to print out additional copies and mail them to everyone. I'd be surprised if the economics worked out this way, but I guess it's possible. Then I'd be interested in seeing if there's some way to get more streamlined programs.

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