by Sarah Kosofsky

We have all heard of the print and online formats of scholarly materials, but what about access to these same resources through mobile apps? Although app access through smart phones or other mobile devices might not be the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with these kinds of materials, many publishers already provide apps for their products.

With a journal app at hand, a subscriber can simply pull up the information they need on their smart phone or tablet rather than leafing through a print copy of a text or sitting in front of a computer. One of the reviews on the app store page for American Psychiatric Publishing’s Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR DSM app says that the app allows the reviewer to access all of the information he needs, wherever he is, without the hassle of toting around the actual book.

The pricing of publisher apps varies.  Sometimes the app is free with subscription, as is the case for the American Society of Nephrology’s Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology app, which launches this month. Others, like the DSM app, are not free (this app happens to be $64.99), but may be preferred over the text or online versions because of how convenient they can be.

Although apps can save time and might be more convenient, there will most certainly always be a place for the full online and print versions of a resource.  Apps might be good for finding a small bit of information or looking up just what a reader needs, but when it comes to research, an app probably won’t cut it.  Naomi Song, a research technician at a medical school in New York, says that although apps for mobile devices seem like a great tool, reading journal articles and other lengthy materials on such a small device like a phone can be difficult in a lab setting.

Have you used a publisher’s app for a resource?  Do you think apps will be an important part of the publishing industry in the future?