This book, first published in 1999, analyses the convergence of financial, technical, and public policy considerations that turned what seemed like science fiction twenty years ago into a library fact of life today. It shows that while electronic publication greatly speeds issuance of important scientific results of enduring value, it also has the potential to lower the economic threshold at which crank papers and marginal publications can gain a wide, if sadly misled audience, in the short run. It demonstrates that while scientists invented the web, they no longer control it, and that even the very largest research organizations, libraries, publishers, and journal aggregators, will, to a substantial degree, be at the technological and economic mercy of commercial users of the web.

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