The other day Ed and I visited the OECD to talk about all things e-publishig. At the end of our our meeting, Toby Green, the OECD’s head of publishing, handed all 30+ meeting attendees a copy of their well-known OECD Factbook- on a USB stick.
Before you dismiss this as a gimick- note that organizations like the OECD get a lot of political and marketing mileage with “leave behinds”- print copies of their key reports, conference proceedings and reference works. While researchers might prefer electronic versions of the publications for their day-to-day work, print versions of the same publications seemed to continue to play a critical role as an “awareness tool.” I know that, for this very reason, several NGO/IGOs that I’ve spoken to have despaired of ever ramping down their print operations.
I think that the OECD might have figured out a solution to this dilemma. It’s difficult to describe how viscerally satisfying it was to receive one of these Factbook USB-sticks. From the way in which the other meeting attendees swarmed around Toby as he was handing them out, I think that they might have had the same reaction.
As we headed back to London on the Eurostar, I almost immediately popped the USB stick into my laptop and started browsing through the Factbook, much as I would have thumbed through a print version of the same (although -truth be told- I would have been tempted to conveniently “forget” the print version in order to not have to shlep it from Paris back to Oxford).
In short, I think the system works. Kudos to the OECD for a simple, inexpensive and creative experiment in e-publishing.