Five years Later: Looking Back on the 'Parcours Numériques' open access series

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Michael Eberle-Sinatra

    Université de Montréal

  2. 2. Marcello Vitali-Rosati

    Université de Montréal

Work text
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In the spring of 2014, les Presse de l’Université de Montréal launched an innovative new series entitled “Parcours numériques”. The goal of the series is to develop in-depth, scholarly theoretical ideas on the world of the digital by producing reference-quality texts in French which will add to the discussion and serve to guide practices while at the same time experimenting with new forms of content management. The series was also an attempt to offer an alternative publishing model that combined print and electronic publishing, as well as promoting open access while still maintaining a range of funding revenues to be economically sustainable.
Every text in the series is published in paper, digital and enhanced digital formats:

the enhanced digital edition is open access on the “Parcours numériques” platform;
the paper edition and matching digital editions (ePub and PDF) are sold in bookstores and online.

The economic model of the series is based on a differentiation between kinds of reading practice. The series offers its content in two forms in order to make possible two kinds of reading of the same original text:
A linear reading
The paper version and the matching digital versions (ePub and PDF), identical to the paper edition but in digital format (e-reader, tablet), present the text in a linear and compact manner. They let the reader follow only an author’s discourse and the development of a complex argument, with the sustained and linear concentration that reading on paper affords. These versions are offered with a minimum of critical apparatus (notes, references, examples, images, etc.) in order to foreground this unique thread.
A non-linear reading
The enhanced digital version makes possible a non-linear reading. Around the original text in-depth exploration of certain subjects is encouraged and facilitated through the presence of additional content: references, notes, biographies, videos, diagrams, illustrations, etc. The non-linear reading is documented and makes it possible to explore particular aspects of the text and to linger on it.
This version is open access, as it enables readers to create their own “parcours numérique” (“digital path”) out of the author’s work and the hyperlinks that link to other content, produced and shared by other authors. Out of the free circulation of content there arises a knowledge network, a dialogue, a virtuous circle in which one wishes to take part. The two versions are thus complementary: two kinds of reading, two approaches to sharing knowledge and two ways of absorbing the topics addressed.
The goal of the series “Parcours numériques” is also to offer a new editorial model, one that goes beyond the dichotomies of paper versus digital, open access versus paid (by unit or by subscription) and public subsidies versus private contributions by proposing other forms: innovative hybrid structures which make use of the possibilities of the Internet with the goal of disseminating knowledge.
This is the role of the “Parcours numériques” platform, which was placed on line at the same time as the series was launched in March 2014 (every book appears simultaneously in print). This platform, which complements the paper and matching digital versions available in the collection, is dynamic and living. Not only is the content kept up to date, but it is constantly evolving, expanding and mulling it over, thanks to the way in which the experience of all the actors involved in the project (users, authors, publishers, designers) is returned to it; to the work carried out (beginning with the writing phase) on the manuscripts in the process of being published; and to technological progress.
With a structure and environment which provide optimal reading comfort, the platform provides open access to the enhanced digital version of all of our volumes, including the text as a whole and the additional content provided to augment the reader’s experience. This content shines additional light on, explores in greater depth, and links to other content, other platforms and other supports.
These resources added to the main text are the fruit of the joint efforts of the authors and the platform’s editorial team, making available to readers an abundant and coherent ensemble of information and links which enables them to undertake different paths while reading the work according to the kind of in-depth additional knowledge they are interested in. The notes and additional content will evolve over time and in response to suggestions made by authors but also from readers.
Because the collection is conceived in three formats (paper, matching digital and augmented digital), authors were required to take this fact into account when proposing and later writing a project. Indeed, the creation of enriched content (in whatever form) for the augmented digital version is an integral part of the volume, which must be conceived, presented and designed with this in mind. Thus, because the augmented digital version makes possible a non-linear reading, authors are encouraged to provide additional, more in-depth information about some aspects of the original text. This in-depth information will be made up, for example, of references, notes, biographies, videos, diagrams, illustrations and any other document in any medium or tool capable of adding to the possible readings offered by this augmented digital version of the text.
As could be expected with the open access nature of our series, it has had an excellent visibility for books published in French by a small Francophone university press in Quebec (with rather limited book distribution around the world). [The latest usage statistics will be shared during the presentation.] The ongoing business model and next steps are however more of a mixed bag, as will be discussed in conclusion.

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2019

Hosted at Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands

July 9, 2019 - July 12, 2019

436 works by 1162 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (14)

Organizers: ADHO