Reviewed April 2019
Rebecca K. Friedman
Assistant Librarian, Marquand Library of Art & Archaeology
Exact Editions offers a flexible and visually appealing platform for accessing and browsing entire runs of popular, mostly British magazines in multiple subject areas. This includes twelve titles in the Applied Art, and Art and Design collections, along with additional architectural, archaeological, photography, and general culture titles of potential interest to art librarians and their patrons. Two book series are also currently available via the platform: Introducing Graphic Guides, a set of guides on disciplines and key thinkers similar to the Very Short Introductions series but more visual in nature, and MuseumsEtc., publisher of guides on topics relevant to museum and gallery personnel.
The product’s emphasis is on the visual qualities of the periodical issues, each with full runs included. One can easily browse the issues included in a subscription or collection; stacks of issues feature every issue cover and are organized alphabetically and by decade under each title. Subscription options are available for individuals and institutions, with perpetual access in conjunction with Portico offered for only twelve of the 400+ titles available. A 10% discount is available for institutions that wish to subscribe to an entire collection. Individual title subscriptions for institutions are not cheap, but perhaps less so than if one library attempted to purchase a whole print run of a particular title. Individual (non-institutional) subscribers who subscribe to a print title may have digital access enabled for the online version via Exact Editions. At present, the art titles in Exact Editions would complement those available in Proquest’s Art and Architecture Archive with little overlap, if institutions can afford to pursue both.
One can seamlessly access subscription holdings via IP authentication or via the Exactly app on an Apple device or via Google Play. Access is also possible via an individual title’s native app. The platform is not unlike Browzine, but for more popular titles and includes far fewer titles than Browzine would at most large academic libraries. The two serve different purposes: the former emphasizes the visual qualities of the print magazines, while the latter makes more visible a library’s scholarly journal holdings. One can easily link to PDFs in each journal issue included in Browzine but not flip through print surrogates of the journal, but other features are commonly available like posting content to Social Media and accessing entire serial runs online. Exact Editions is not unlike Issuu or Press Reader that provide online platforms to publishers for making their content accessible and readable on the Web. Some customization is possible for login users, such as the sorting of titles (alphabetical or latest issue), and to where embedded ISBNs will link, like Amazon, Google, or other options.
The Exact Editions platform is user-friendly, with a clean, uncluttered presentation. The company seems aware of and is responsive to libraries’ needs in term of remote access,MARC record availability, and the characteristics that users expect from successful content delivery systems: the ability to bookmark and cite individual pages and titles, hyperlinks from embedded ISBNs to booksellers, faceted browse searching for titles, and keyword searching across content. A query sent to the generic institutions@ address about pricing was responded to within minutes. The platforms’ general and institutional websites together are rich and useful in terms of being able to easily determine the specific content available and the various technical aspects of the platform. There is also a cool blog that includes periodic “Interview[s] with the Librarian,” among other features.