I'm currently co-authoring a book-chapter with another scientist. We're writing a review of sea ice variability and trends in an "AGU Physical Monograph" (published by Wiley) on Earth's weather and climate. Other chapters are on stuff like paleoclimate, storms, physical oceanography, heat waves etc.
Why publish these works as a book/monograph, rather than as a special journal issue? It seems that there are a number of drawbacks associated with the book/monograph style:
- The publication timescale is extremely long
- Access will likely be restricted (i.e. the work will not be open access)
- This particular monograph will be online in colour, and printed in black/white. It's therefore quite restrictive in terms of how we make our figures.
I wonder slightly if the monograph/rev'd-book is a relic of when relevant information was hard to find. Now that the scientific paradigm has shifted from info-sparse to info-inundating, do we still need to link research works together like this, for purposes of discoverability? Given the above drawbacks, at what cost should we do this?
So what's the deal with monographs/peer-reviewed books? Am I just participating in a moneyspinner for an academic publisher? Or is this a distinct mode of scientific communication that we should value?