Starting this month, the printed version of ACS journals will appear in a new condensed-print format. Apparently the print-based journals are no longer in high demand (print subscriptions down 50% in just 2 years is quite a loss), so to save costs, they will be printing 4 columns of text on just one page. From the image on the website, it looks like the articles will be printed in “landscape” format, with the page turned 90 degrees and shrunken in size.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I am a big fan of real paper issues of journals. It is nice to just sit down with the newest issue of any journal and flip through the pages, stopping if something catches my eye. Sometimes I end up reading some really interesting (and off-topic) research that way. You can’t just flip through the electronic version like that. Sure, if I’m looking for a particular compound or searching for a synthesis, I prefer the electronic version. Yes, I agree that there are MANY benefits to the electronic version of any journal. But, those rare times when I have a bit of free time and the geek in me actually wants to read about chemistry, I’d rather sit down at my desk and flip through the paper version. If I need to squint and get out my magnifying glass just to read the articles, I won’t be able to enjoy that time any more.
They try to make this sound better by saying that the new format is environmentally friendly. (Factoid: an annual subscription to all ACS journals weighs more than ½ ton!) I do like the idea of saving the environment (don’t get me started), but I don’t really know that a condensed-format journal is the way to go. If they really wanted to promote long-term sustainability, they would eliminate the print version of the journal completely.
Maybe I’m a little old fashioned, but I’m sad that paper is going out of style.
(After a quick search, I also found this article on the Chemistry Blog about condensed print).