Nonprofit scientific societies hope that their activities advance their particular mission and impact their profession and, in the broadest sense, humanity in positive ways. The digital age has provided unprecedented mechanisms to enhance the delivery of science to the world. The marketplace of scientific publishing is a rapidly shifting mosaic of challenges and opportunities, and the responses of nonprofit and commercial publishers vary widely, but their outcomes are still uncertain. The response of the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) provides an example of how a relatively small society has altered its scientific delivery to enhance member benefits while attempting to sustain its economic viability. Since 2000, ASM has moved from a self-publishing, break-even, print-only model to a copublishing agreement with a commercial publisher (Alliance Communications Group, a division of Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas), which now offers members various print and electronic options and generates a shared royalty. Although it is too early to gauge the economic impact of these changes, the ASM leadership clearly attempted to signal its desire for members to view their society as a package of opportunities for edification and involvement rather than just a provider of serial subscriptions. Future challenges facing nonprofit scientific societies include open access, fiscal realities, archiving of publications, and scientific and societal impact; future opportunities include a strengthening of member responsibilities and professionalism, development of data registries to enhance scientific progress, and bundling of like societies. The manner in which nonprofit scientific societies respond to these challenges and opportunities will no doubt affect their sustainability and future impact. ?? 2007 American Society of Mammalogists.
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A shifting mosaic of scholarly publishing, scientific delivery, and future impact changing the face of learned societies