E-publishing is growing. Next to sites which republish in electronic format articles that have previously been published elsewhere or are being published simultaneously, there is an increasing number of sites aimed at publishing new articles in electronic format only. This is also true for legal publishing. When the EJCL board of editors and its external referees consider an article for publication, they focus, of course, on aspects like originality and the use of source material in footnotes; the length of an article does not matter so much. Certainly, if we feel that an author could say in far fewer pages what he/she now is arguing at great length, we would ask that author to be more concise. But if we feel that an author needs the number of pages of the original manuscript, length is no problem to us. The limits that have to be set by printed journals for reasons of space, mainly because of pricing aspects, are of no importance in e-publishing. As a result, the difference between articles and monographs starts to become slight.
Given this aspect of e-publishing, I began wondering about sites which publish books in electronic format, so-called 'e-books'. With the help of Paul van Waelsden, legal reference librarian at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, foreign and international law librarian and lecturer in law at the University of Chicago law school, United States, and other subscribers to Int-Law, the discussion list of law librarians and others involved in the study of international law as well as foreign and comparative law, I was able to trace several of those websites. It became clear to me that there is a growing number of Internet sites aimed at publishing books which at the same time appear in a printed format or have already been printed and are now being republished electronically. Sometimes a printed or electronic text is also made available on CD-ROM. The legal world - again, as with articles - is no exception. An interesting initiative is netLibrary, to be found at http://www.netlibrary.com, which republishes several law books electronically. See also the work done by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (http://www.cali.org), in which several American law schools work together. I should also refer to the materials made available through the website of the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University (http://www.law.cornell.edu/disk_titles.html). For the Netherlands, I can mention e-books published by Utrecht University (http://www.law.uu.nl/wiarda/elektronisch.asp, where, e.g., the collection of Dutch reports to the fifteenth International Congress of Comparative Law can be found), Maastricht University (http://www.unimaas.nl/~casebook/foreword.htm, the first of the Ius Commune Casebooks for the Common Law of Europe) and the University of Groningen (http://docserver.ub.rug.nl/eldoc/index.html#diss). Then there are sites which prepublish books electronically in order to allow readers to comment on a book while it is still in the drafting stage. Understandably, prepublished draft books are withdrawn from the net once their final version is published, which mostly still is in printed form.
What I am interested in most, however, is the electronic publication of new law books, which are not and will not be printed at all and do not become available on CD-ROM. I can mention as an example an e-book written by students of the University of Iowa College of Law and supervised by prof. E. Carrasco, called: Global Money, the Good Life and You: Understanding the Local Impact of International Financial Institutions, to be found at http://www.uiowa.edu/ifdebook/E-Book.htm.
It seems that, for the time being, e-books are mainly seen as a companion to printed versions of (law)books. But why should not happen to e-books what happened to e-journals which do not appear simultaneously in print and which are now generally accepted as 'real' journals?
A final note about this issue of the EJCL. During the past few months, due to strict adherence to our standards for publication and the condition that we are the first journal to publish a submitted article, we did not have sufficient articles for a new issue of our journal. It seems that this is changing, as several articles are now under review by our board of editors.
In this issue we publish an article written by Normann Witzleb, Dieter Martiny, Ulrich Thoelke and Tim Frericks on 'Comparative Law and the Internet' and a review of Sébastien Besson's Arbitrage international et mesures provisoires: Etude de droit comparé, written by Jan Schaefer.
If you would like to submit an article, book review or case note within the area of the methodology of comparative law or comparative private law, please contact our assistant editor, Hildegard Penn (e-mail: H.M.M.A.Penn@uvt.nl). We are also willing to act as a discussion forum concerning views expressed in articles which we publish, provided these views are offered in the form of an academic contribution.
Sjef van Erp