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R.C. Kennicutt (U. Arizona)
Several years of investment by the AAS in electronic publishing is now paying off in nearly every facet of our journals. The transformation of the ApJ, ApJ Letters, and AJ to electronic journals is virtually complete; over 95% of manuscripts are submitted electronically, and the on-line editions of the journals are rapidly becoming the primary mode of access in virtually every sector of our readership. The high fraction of electronic manuscripts has made it possible to streamline and automate the manuscript handling and production processes, which in turn will lead to reduced costs and page charges, and major improvements in publication speed, especially for the ApJ.
The next five years will see major enhancements to the information content as well as the form of the AAS journals. Although electronic publishing has revolutionized the form and accessibility of astronomical publications, their current content remains firmly anchored in electronic images of printed words, numbers, and figures. The next major step in the evolution of the journals will be to post and archive not only the printed articles but also the supporting data and models themselves. We already post downloadable ascii tables for many papers, and soon we will expand this to include every table we publish. We also plan to expand our support for publishing large electronic-only attachments to papers, including extended tables and (eventually) downloadable digital images, all at minimal cost to authors and subscribers. We will continue to actively explore new formats for data and information presentation, including on-line video, 3D representations, and higher-level linking of text and tabular material. At the same time we will exploit the expanding capabilities of web-based publishing to ensure that the most important feature of paper journals--- a reader-friendly format that encourages browsing and reading of papers--- is preserved in the electronic age.