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Online and Downloadable Roundel Archive

Discussion in 'Roundel Magazine' started by krambjas, Mar 22, 2014.


Should a complete Roundel archive be created and issues be allowed to be downloaded?

Yes, let me search all Roundel issues, and download ones I might want to look at later 10 vote(s) 90.9%
A searchable archive would be great, but we shouldn't allow Roundel issues to be downloaded 1 vote(s) 9.1%
No, I like the current arrangement 0 vote(s) 0.0%
No, even if it was useful, it would be too expensive and not worth pursuing 0 vote(s) 0.0%
No, but I think the current interface should be replaced 0 vote(s) 0.0%
    • Member

    krambjas 2000 323i, 1995 318ti Clubsport, 1989 325iX

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    This is an issue that I've brought up a couple of times to the staff, and searching though different forums I don't seem to be the only one that has a desire for such an archive, so I thought I'd post here and see how much interest there is and if there is something we can do about it within our club.

    Let me again thank everyone involved for all the effort that is constantly put into Roundel. For the 15 years or so that I've been a member, I've loved every issue of the magazine, and was very excited when a digital version was announced. However, I was fairly dismayed when the digital version was finally released. Not only is the Imiris site horribly designed and built on a the slow, crash-prone, and bandwidth hungry Flash framework, it also has terrible search capabilities and specifically requires an internet connection.

    While internet connectivity is be coming more and more prevalent, it's still not a guarantee at any location. Any number of posts I've seen mention the fact that an individual issue can't be downloaded. I know an "app" is availabe and while I own an Android smartphone, I am not an owner of a tablet, so I can't even make use of this "benefit". From other users, I get the impression it is not much better than the website in terms of bandwidth, speed, responsiveness, and usefulness, though at least you can download one issue at a time to read without an internet connection.

    I think it would be a massive benefit to the membership to be able to read digital issues on any device without necessarily being connected to the internet. I'm sure many of our membership have tablets, phones, or other devices that can load a PDF file (my phone certainly can) and allow them to read their Roundel copies at their leisure, no matter the device or whether an internet connection exists or not.

    Also, many of us enjoy and prefer the older BMW's that have been around for many years. I myself own cars that were built from 1988-1995. While there are many lots of resources scattered around the internet, finding exactly what you're looking for may take visits to many different forum websites, trying to find someone who knows something about the topic of interest, and then sorting through all those people that think they know something, but really don't. Few have the memory or library of Roundel issues to know if an article of interest was published long ago. Some of those older issues have great information in them that I can't get to readily, yet I'm certain is there. I'm not going to buy every back issue I can get my hands on just in case one of them has some information in it that I might use at some point. Having a digital archive of the entire Roundel library that could be truly searchable would be invaluable to that segment of the membership that wants to keep those older cars running.

    When I asked a couple years ago, I was told that we were not allowing downloadable copies of Roundel because it is an exclusive benefit of membership and it is desirable to limit access to just members. While I agree we certainly want to keep the magazine as a closely held membership benefit, I offer up three other organizations that I am a member of as counter-points.
    1. The Experimental Aircraft Association has their entire archive of EAA Sport Aviation magazine online and accessible only by members. The magazine itself is a membership benefit and cannot be obtained except by being a member of EAA. Every single issue back to 1953 has been converted to PDF format. An interface for searching the entire archive has been implemented on the website, allowing members to search for particular aircraft info, tips, historical plans changes, etc, even if they are younger than the article in question. Each article or column in each issue is also separated out into individual PDF files, organized by issue. All PDF files, either entire issues, or individual articles, can be downloaded for later reference or perusal.
    2. The Soaring Society of America also has their entire archive of Soaring magazine online and accessible only by members. Again, the magazine itself is a membership benefit and cannot be obtain except by being a member. Every issue back to 1937 has been converted to PDF format. Again the website has a search interface allowing members to search for terms in the entire archive and a simple Flash interface to view each issue online. The particular glider I own was built in 1971, and I can search from the website for articles written about its early test flights, performance, and flight characteristics I need to be aware of. Very good data, and a huge benefit from my membership. Again, PDF files of entire issues can be downloaded for later reference or perusal.
    3. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association added an Enhanced Digital version of AOPA Pilot magazine in 2011. Once again, the magazine is a member benefit and only available to members. Members can select whether they want the print version or the Enhanced Digital version. The digital version is hosted by nxtbook.com and has numerous added features, including movies and animations embedded in the pages, links to advertisers and additional information, embedded polls and feedback, etc. While I'm not much of a fan of the nxtbook.com interface any more than the Imiris interface, each enhanced issue can be downloaded to many mobile devices to read later, or the issue can be downloaded as a non-enhanced PDF file for reading on practically any device at any time. Unfortunately, they do not have an archive of older issues.
    As you might have guessed, I am pilot and aircraft owner in addition to being a BMW enthusiast.

    All three organizations offer this digital version to their membership at no additional cost. In all cases, an offline version, normally in PDF format can be downloaded. Both AOPA and EAA are fairly large organizations with over 200,000 members, larger headquarters, and a relatively large full-time staff numbering in around 150. However, the SSA has a full-time staff of 5 people, and a volunteer executive committee of only 7 people for a membership of about 12,000. It is not a large organization, but in my opinion has one of the most functional and complete online and offline archives of any of the organization I belong to. It was entirely created by a skilled volunteer with the help of two of the staff members. Both the staff and members have told me that they find the archive priceless and something that is used on a daily basis.

    Also, none of these organizations is concerned with downloads of the magazine diluting an exclusive membership benefit. All have the archive and download features behind a member login. All have some kind of "terms of use" similar to the one on the SSA page:

    By logging in to the Soaring Magazine Archive site, you agree to use any electronic copy, file(s) or data of Soaring Magazine downloaded by you from SSA.org for personal purposes only; you also agree NOT to make available for consumption by others, any such copy, file(s) or data, in whole or in part, by posting such copy, file(s) or data, to any site or repository without the express written consent of the Soaring Society of America.

    I think that members have a huge incentive to not just pass around a downloaded copy of our magazine. After all, they pay to get that copy by paying for membership in our relatively small club. The only possibility I can think of is that a member might send a copy to a friend who may not know about the magazine or the Club, just to show off how good it is, and maybe even attract them to join the Club (a good thing!). Are we really concerned that people who pay good money to be members of the Club would dilute their own membership benefits by passing around unapproved copies of the magazine?

    I know Bentley published a CD of many old Roundel issues some time ago. It was billed as the Complete Roundel, including every issue from 1969 - 1998. Its unfortunate that I can't seem to find this collection available anywhere now, but it seems like it wouldn't be all that difficult to convert all that work into the same format the current digital Roundel is in or into PDF files for download. It looks like the back issues online now go back to Jan 2002, so we're only missing 4 years worth of issues from having a complete archive scanned. I know the SSA I mentioned above was able to scan 75 years of back issues in just a couple years all done by a couple volunteers in the organization, so I know its possible to get a large archive together quickly. The BMWCCA has an even larger membership and a history that doesn't go back nearly as far.

    Personally, I have a laptop in the garage where I store and work on my cars. The garage doesn't have internet connectivity and is in a dead area for cell phone coverage. No internet available. I'd love to have copies of Roundel issues available on that laptop for reference at various times.

    If you made it to the end of this, thank you. I highly encourage any members who think this would be a hugely valuable resource to chime in here. From some discussions I've had with the SSA, I do think this could actually be a relatively inexpensive venture, since most of the magazine archive is already scanned. Certainly cheaper than whatever we currently pay annually for Imirus. I think there are better options and I'd like to have a real discussion about it amongst the membership. I'm sure there are volunteers out there that would love to help make this happen, including myself.

    Jason Kramb
    Life Member #307054
    • Member


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    I'm guessing the 'CCA board et al. apparently have some concerns about .pdf versions roaming wild once released. I suppose it could be argued the collective information of past issues might represent a marketable asset in some way or another - it did, briefly, with Bentley's digital assemblage of all issues up to that time. I never opted to pick up Bentley's digital Roundel compilation while it was out, but once I realized it was discontinued I hunted ebay with automatic alerts until I was able to snag one. They probably only come up very rarely now on ebay, your best bet might be a wanted ad in the Roundel.

    Generally, I think a searchable archive would be nifty - not sure what all the options might be to make it workable, or if there's any way to keep it members-only.
    • Member
    • Staff

    steven s

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    A searchable archive would be good if it didn't include classifieds and letters to the editor.
    And speaking of classifieds, contact information would need to be removed somehow.
    • Member

    krambjas 2000 323i, 1995 318ti Clubsport, 1989 325iX

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    And I'd agree with the Board....I certainly wouldn't want PDF versions of Roundel being passed around in the wild. My question is, what reason would a member have to reduce the value of their own membership by releasing a PDF they downloaded into the wild? And why do 3 other organizations with a similar member-only benefit not have the same concern? I've looked....I can't find copies of their magazines outside of the member's only site of the organization.

    I'm not a website expert, but there seems to be plenty of options to keep a search index member's only. The Club website does it already when you login to the bmwcca.org and get access to the Imiris reader currently.

    Looking back, I've seemed to bring this up every time I'm moving. I have a decent collection of Roundels from early 2000, and I keep them in case there's some good reference material in there. But I realistically would like to stop holding on to all that paper, and I really don't have a way to go and search for what I want in them anyway. A digital archive would be the way to go.

    Don't get me wrong, I *love* the paper version of Roundel. I'd never get rid of it. But while a paper magazine is great for reading and perusing later, it does not lend itself to searching through a stack of 100's of issues for something very specific you are looking for.

    Maybe this is a better project for the BMWCCA Foundation?
    • Member

    krambjas 2000 323i, 1995 318ti Clubsport, 1989 325iX

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    I can see that being useful, and may be possible to exclude pages in the search index, but I don't see it being absolutely necessary. Maybe someone has a part in the classifieds that you are desperate for, and you can track down where it went of if the seller/buying knows a new source. I mean, the contact info in all the classifieds are online right now in the current Imiris reader, so I can't see why anything new would have to be different. Search for "aol.com" in the current reader, and just about every Roundel issue in the archive comes up with a few hits.

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