I think they are starting to get it. I asked a few days ago when and whether academic publishers would start recognizing that increased accessibility to their works results in increased exposure and usage. I did not, however, mention that many of the Ivy League university presses here in the States do already seem to be moving toward making academic content available and accessible in full text free of charge, certainly hoping that the result will be greater exposure. The Princeton Theological Review and Harvard University’s arts and sciences faculty’s plan (see here and here) to post academic papers online for free access, unless scholars specifically indicate otherwise, are good examples.
Earlier this month I noticed that the State University of New York (SUNY) Press announced an initiative to sell .pdf files of new books for $20.00 through their “directtext” option, a trend that will no doubt increase as libraries opt to fill digital repositories rather than handing over $75.00 for a hardcover that will need to be squeezed into already packed library shelves. See also Cheaper by the .pdf, but still . . .
Stanford University Press, however, has gone even further and jumped straight into the deep end. Their blog announced last week:
Stanford University Press is pleased to announce that you can now search the full text of our books via Google Book Search. We are currently still in the process of uploading and scanning our backlist, but there are already over a thousand Stanford titles in Google Book Search. When the project is completed, all of our books will be searchable electronically. …[We] are excited to make it easier for readers to discover content and find books most suited to their interests.
Thanks to languagehat.com for pointing this out: STANFORD BOOKS FULLY SEARCHABLE.