Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Future of Print

West representatives told the librarians that they saw continued strong interest in print from their customers. They did find that when and how it was used was changing. For instance, there was strong interest in topical, practice-specific guides that could be kept on a lawyer’s desk for quick consultation. And people preferred print for reading long articles, and for materials with a strong structure, like codes and rules. On the other hand, material where the placement of an item in the overall collection does not matter, like individual decisions in a reporter, work better online.

So, West is planning to continue introducing new print products in certain areas where lawyers told them they prefer print:

* Quick reference (hornbooks, deskbooks and nutshells)
* Browsing, idea generation for online research (like hornbooks and treatises)
* Self education on new areas of law (again, hornbooks and treatises)

Two surprising outcomes from the discussions with lawyers and law students:

* They feel they retain better information they read in print
* They feel more confidence in print

So, West states they are strongly committed to print, and will continue to develop selected new print products. For instance, in 2008, they plan to release “Key Rules Pamphlets” which will select most-needed court rules, and combine them with relevant statutes, forms, and practice notes. They are also introducing “Expert Witness Pamphlets” which will aid attorneys in using and confronting expert witnesses.

West is developing new print formats to make them easier to use and to make them easier to integrate with their online sources. We saw boxes and shading to highlight key portions and margin notes that explain how to quickly access more information online. They are using numbers and outline forms as well, to make it easier for readers to pinpoint the key information. So, they seem to be addressing the short attention spans and time pressures that make our students loth to use books.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear OOTJ readers:
I composed the three entries here for Sunday, in one essay. You'd do best to read them up from the bottom, beginning with "Report From New Orleans" and ending with "Future of Print." I think it comes in order on RSS feeds, but visitors to the site here will get them in reverse order. Sorry 'bout that!