There is a saying I have heard, that "growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional."
During the last several decades, I have been involved in many discussions with members about when AAPG would "go digital" with the BULLETIN. When I became executive director five years ago, we were estimating the "go digital" point for the BULLETIN at around 2007.
Last year, then-president Steve Sonnenberg formed an ad hoc committee to determine the logic and timing for "going digital." John Lorenz, then-AAPG editor, chaired that committee, and it made recommendations "why" the Association should change to digital format as soon as possible.
This year, president Pat Gratton charged the AAPG Executive Committee to meet in January to decide exactly "how" and "when."
First, let me explain "why," because there are usually several complex causes that make a simple event happen.
The first "cause" in this case was the high cost of postage and to a lesser degree the cost of printing the BULLETIN. Since 1995 our dues have only increased by 17 percent, but average postage for the BULLETIN increased by 47 percent!
AAPG has been able to keep its dues low by cutting costs, offering a voluntary digital-only BULLETIN and finding new revenue sources; however, we cannot cut enough to keep up with the growth in postal charges -- as well as printing cost increases.
The second reason is that many AAPG members are requesting digital.
I have had a multitude of members talk about how they were running out of space for paper copies. Since we offered the digital option three years ago, over 7,000 members elected to receive the BULLETIN in digital form only.
Thirdly, digital is now an acceptable format for peer-reviewed articles among scientific societies. This was not true even four years ago. Now, many authors are requesting digital format so they are not as restricted on color or space.
Most of our sister societies have made the move to digital as their primary format for their flagship publication with paper copies available for additional cost.
That said, we also had a number of reasons to continue producing paper copies of the BULLETIN. Some members do not have digital access or just prefer reading hardcopy. Sometimes, I still prefer to take a copy of the BULLETIN with me to read on a plane.
I realize too, that I am reading "on screen" significantly more now than in the past.
Also, most libraries still prefer paper copies for their subscriptions, so we still need to make several thousand paper copies each year to meet their needs.
That is the "why." Now to the "how" and "when."
At their meeting in January, AAPG's Executive Committee decided to make the primary format for the BULLETIN digital and the secondary format paper copy. Starting June 1, every AAPG Active and Associate member automatically will receive digital online access, plus a CD-ROM every six-months.
The CD-ROMS will contain:
- BULLETIN articles.
- Information on special publications.
- A calendar of services.
AAPG's leadership understands that members want a choice, so as a transitional measure, those members who do not have digital access, or just prefer paper copy, can elect on the dues statement or by notifying headquarters to receive the monthly hardcopy of the BULLETIN instead of the semiannual CD-ROM.
Members also can order both the CD-ROMS and paper copies of the BULLETIN for an additional charge.
The Executive Committee hopes that most members will take the opportunity to use full digital access of the BULLETIN, but has provided an avenue, at no additional cost, for members to continue to receive paper copies for the time being.
We have decided to lay the foundation for the future by easing into the new world of electronic publications, even as we struggle to keep dues as low as possible in the face of rising costs.
Please note that we will continue to mail paper copies of the EXPLORER to all members.
We appreciate your patience as we make this change.