Cites & Insights Plus: One partial “What’s Next?” Scenario

First, a quick update on this announcement and this update:

Not really much to say. One more ALA conversation to discuss possible “piecemeal” things. I have, in fact, given in and purchased a cell phone, which will mostly be off, and will provide the number to those who contact me beforehand about getting together at ALA. I may yet set up a Twitter account to serve that purpose as well (the phone is specifically designed for texting, with a QWERTY keyboard too small for thumbing but OK for one-finger typing). Certainly no offers have come “pouring in” that are so wonderful that I’d take them before ALA Annual and give up the discussions…nor was I expecting any.

One reason for a less than stunning flow of offers (besides this being the real world, of course) may be that I’ve been pretty vague about what I’m looking for. There are two reasons for that–both a deliberate attempt to stay open to the widest range of possibilities and being a little uncertain as to The Path I want to follow–including whether that comes down to one path or many.

Still, it might not hurt to flesh out one or two scenarios. So here’s one–one that would not (I believe) lead to a full-time equivalence or anything close to it, but that might represent an interesting part of a whole if some publisher or sponsoring company/agency is interested.

Here’s the scenario:

  • Cites & Insights continues, still free to the reader, still slightly less than predictable, still full of the writing I seem to do best (or at least most). Potentially larger sponsorship; potentially an ad or two within the publication; potentially cross-promotion or reuse of C&I material elsewhere.
  • C&I appears to have an immediate core readership in the 1,500 to 2,000 range, with overall readership over the course of a year or so slowly ramping up to 3,000 or more–except for special cases, which can and have exceeded 10,000 and even 20,000 readers. (I believe Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” is past the 25,000 mark now.) I assert that these are all actual readers, not just recipients, since it’s hard to justify fetching and printing C&I if you don’t plan to read it.
  • That audience may be the “natural” readership for C&I. It’s a dense, even demanding publication with lengthy essays that require some serious reading and, once in a while, thinking. I assume a fair amount of background on the part of readers. I suspect C&I is both too long and too dense for most library people–which is a reflection on C&I, not on them.
  • At the same time, one newish section of C&I is becoming more important to me and almost unmanageable in terms of source material that I want to discuss and synthesize. It’s also perhaps the most relevant section to a broader range of librarians.
  • Possibility 1: Spin off a separate epublication–let’s call it Making it Work: The Balanced Library Journal for now, although that title could change–incorporating what’s now in “Making it Work” and, possibly, “Library Access to Scholarship.” Aim for at least every other month initially, but probably monthly rather quickly (particularly if there’s actual income associated with it). Most desirable: Free to the end user with a CC BY-NC license (like C&I), and with advertising and/or sponsorship. Less desirable but worth considering: Subscription basis, preferably with a slight-delay open availability.
  • Possibility 2: A separate publication, possibly print, possibly epub, based on Cites & Insights (and/or Making it Work) but with a substantially different approach: Limited length (say 8 or 12 pages per issue, period); shorter and less convoluted essays (most no more than one page, with perhaps one two-page primary essay in each issue), more background as appropriate, more of a “column style” to the essays. Either sponsored with advertising or by subscription; might cover some new ground, but would mostly recast C&I material; would point to C&I for longer/denser coverage. I have no idea what this might be called, but I believe it could reach several thousand librarians and other library people who really (and legitimately) don’t have the time to spend on C&I.
  • C&I Books could also be part of this package, either in its current form or in a more traditional state. I have two projects on the back burner now, and a series of other possibilities for the future.

Possibility 1 might happen anyway, if I wind up in a part-time position (or set of activities) that allows enough time and focus to do this. Possibility 2 cannot happen without someone else’s involvement. I’m not about to start handling subscriptions or fulfillment (or advertising) for several reasons.

I believe this package (in whole or in part) could be attractive to a number of parties–but I’m not sure. I am sure that I want Cites & Insights to stick around. I am sure that I want to write more about “making it work.” I am reasonably certain that I’ve put together a combination of scanning, synthesis, commentary, writing and overall stance that’s unique within the field, even if only by accident. I’d like to build on that, even if only as a piece of a complex whole.

So there’s a scenario. If you’re interested, get in touch. You know the mail system (gmail) and the username (waltcrawford). You know I’d prefer to set up meetings during the ALA Annual Conference and that the more ambitious parts of this concept can’t happen until October 2007 at the earliest.

Otherwise, well, I’m still open to all sorts of possibilities, even as I do background work related to one or two discussions.

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