by Sarah Kosofsky
In Rick Anderson’s recent article in the Scholarly Kitchen about the government-funded introduction of 100,000 tablet computers to university students and professors in India, he outlines a few of the implications of such an influx of affordable devices. Among his most fascinating points is that this introduction of a large number of computing devices might encourage further pushes for computing device ownership, and might greatly increase the percentage of those in India who own a computing device.
Those in the publishing industry would be wise to watch how the market for scholarly materials changes as a result of pushes for computing device availability. Thousands of students and professors who previously did not have access to electronic journals, electronic books, and electronic databases now do have access; what will be interesting to see is if they will seek the traditional scholarly publishers for their electronic content or if they will try to find new, perhaps more affordable publishers. As only 5% of Indian citizens currently own computing devices (and not all of those are used for scholarly research), it should be intriguing to see what methods scholarly publishers use to appeal to this new potential group of customers.