I predict by 2015 most major journals will have ended their hardcopy print versions and will be entirely digital. It just makes good sense from so many perspectives including financially and from an environmental view.
This is a radical change from just a few decades ago.
During my youngest childhood years, there were no personal computers.
It wasn’t until I was a tween (not that anyone used that term back then) or early teen that my family got one of the early Apple computers, I think an Apple II.
So I mostly grew up and was educated via paper. Paper fiction books. Paper textbooks. The newspaper. Paper magazines like my parents’ New Yorker and others like Time.
In college at Reed in the late 1980s, we had a computer lab, but the early Macs kinda sucked. They crashed. There was no Internet. The printer’s got jammed half the time. So still my college education was mostly via paper.
Things changed finally when I was a grad student and in science we used the Internet quite often for email and a growing number of tools became available. Still we submitted hard copy papers and read our journals in hard copy form.
Today, more and more new science journals are not bothering to have print editions. I predict that established journal families such as Nature, Cell, and Science as well as most others will within 5 years go all digital.
There are times I still like to sit down and read hard copy journal articles, but I have to say that more and more I read them on my computer or print them out on my printer.
Society as a whole is steadily moving away from print and going all digital. Witness that Newsweek will be entirely digital in 2013…of course its screwed up finances are part of the reason, but I believe this trend will continue. Already my kids’ generation read a lot of books on tablets.
I still like to read books as hard copy books and even my kids do as well at times, but I think this time toward the digital will take over in science nearly entirely.