Mount Holyoke College political science professor Douglas Amy makes a good case for publishing online in this piece in today’s Inside Higher Ed. Amy is the author of three previous books, The Politics of Environmental Mediation (Columbia University Press, 1987), Behind the Ballot Box (Greenwood, 2000), and Real Choices/New Voices (Columbia U. Press, 2002). His latest book, Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution, was published online a year and a half ago and has already found more readers — from over 50 countries — than his previous three books combined, gaining him more feedback and getting picked up by many online discussion groups. The web site is well organized and attractive, and the article includes some useful pointers on how to do it even better.
An example of an online publication that makes much more extensive use of the medium is Mackenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY; see the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s review of it. (Wark’s earlier Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events remains one of the best studies of the global media’s penetration into everyday life. It needs updating, though — and the current crisis in Iran begs for Wark’s treatment.)
There’s, of course, a lot more to be said about the promises and perils of digital scholarly publishing, with the question of peer review being a big issue for those who debate it. Kathleen Fitzsimmons’ piece from a few years ago gets at some of these issues, and there’s been much discussion over at Media Commons, if:book, and the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) and Academic Publishing in the Digital Age web sites.