Joseph Esposito

I am a management consultant working primarily in the world of digital media, software, and publishing. My clients include both for-profits and not-for-profits. A good deal of my activity concerns research publishing, especially when the matter at issue has to do with the migration to digital services from a print background. Prior to setting up my consulting business, I served as CEO of three companies (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Tribal Voice, and SRI Consulting), all of which I led to successful exits. Typically I work on strategy issues, advising CEOs and Boards of Directors on direction; I also have managed a number of sticky turnarounds. Among other things, I have been the recipient of grants from the Mellon, MacArthur, and Hewlett Foundations, all concerning research into new aspects of publishing.
Joseph Esposito has written 249 posts for The Scholarly Kitchen

Bulwarks, Agility, and Foresight

[Editor’s note: This is the edited text of a presentation that Joe Esposito gave as a keynote at the PSP conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 3, 2016. The slides for the presentation are embedded at the end of the text. Joe would like to thank John Tagler and Sara Pinto of PSP for their assistance … Continue reading

The Open Syllabus Project, Altmetrics, and a New Dataset

The Open Syllabus Project has created a database of over 1 million college syllabuses and extracted the names of the materials used in these courses. These materials are analyzed quantitatively and ranked. The creators of the service propose a new metric for the evaluation of academic publications. Continue reading

The Network Model of Publishing

One of the unanticipated consequences of the introduction of digital media to scholarly publishing is that publishing properties increasingly are organized into networks, with one property pointing to another for the benefit of all. This essay describes the network publishing model and comments on some of a network’s characteristics and economic opportunities. Continue reading

The Terrible Burden of a Prestigious Brand

While all publishers like to have a strong brand, some brands are so prestigious that they actually serve to paralyze the managements responsible for them, making it impossible to introduce innovations and to develop the business. Vast bureaucracies arrive whose purpose is not to develop the business but to protect the vaunted brand. This is a management problem, not a marketing one, but it can stymie a publisher from pursuing a progressive agenda. Continue reading

Mr. Market is a Brilliant Editor

Of the many ways to measure the quality of a publication, one that is often overlooked are the workings of the marketplace itself. Purchases for published material is made in large part on the basis of the quality of that material, making the marketplace something of an editor of genius. This mechanism incorporates all other metrics, from impact factor to altmetrics. Unfortunately, the marketplace is not free to exercise its judgment when many participants seek dominant and even monopolistic control. Continue reading

For Open Access Monographs, Peter Pays Paul. Who Pays Peter?

Gold open access for monographs is based on the notion that provosts will pay for what librarians will not. This seems like an improbable model for scholarly publishing. Publishing that is not based on end-user demand is not likely to have strong support in lean times. Continue reading

Revisiting: Governance and the Not-for-profit Publisher

Revisiting Joe Esposito’s classic post on how the governance of not-for-profit publishing entities plays a large role in those entities’ success or failure. Continue reading

MOOCs Rise from the Ashes

The MOOCs seem to have faded from view. In large part this is because they were so relentlessly overhyped when they first appeared. But now various forms of online education have begun to get traction in the marketplace. An essay by Clay Shirky points out how online education is operating today and its implications for higher education. Continue reading

People Make the Difference: Steering a Start-up to Success

A panel at the Charleston conference featured three CEOs of start-ups, who shared their experiences in creating and running a completely new organization. All of these companies are computationally sophisticated, so advanced technologically that it is hard to image established companies taking on their challenges. Another common theme is the importance of hiring and retaining the very best people, a matter in which start-up CEOs tend to be obsessive. Continue reading

Notes on Publishing in an Emerging Economy

Well-intended government policy in an Eastern European nation is having unexpected results on school publishing, some of which are the precise opposite of what policymakers had hoped for. The problem is that those who draft policy have little imagination about how new programs will be taken up–and altered–in the marketplace. Continue reading

Return of the Big Brands: How Legacy Publishers Will Coopt Open Access

Open access publishing has gone through a number of stages. Though different people will classify these stages in diverse ways, one way to view this is to say that since the initial period of advocacy for open access, commercial interests have entered this market and are now prepared to augment their positions by leveraging their elite brands, using them, as it were, to draw manuscripts for a family of cascading products. Continue reading

Libraries and Consortia in the Context of a Publisher’s Strategy

Professional societies are facing growing resistance to place their publications in libraries. This results in these societies seeking arrangements with the largest commercial publishers, whose sway with libraries and especially library consortia is significant. Libraries have demonstrated a clear preference to work with the larger publishers over the smaller ones. This leads to increasing concentration and market power in the academic publishing industry. Continue reading

What Is “Publishing” if Even a Library Can Do It?

Libraries increasingly provide a wide range of publishing activities, but are there some areas where libraries are not active? It appears that libraries are unlikely to play a large role in publishing that is based on end-user demand. Continue reading

Looking to the Future of Narrative

The novelist Iain Pears has produce a book on an interactive app, noting that his work had come up against the limitations of the printed page. What are the implications of experiments in narrative form for other kinds of publishing? Continue reading

Amazon and the Future of Work

Amazon was recently criticized harshly in an article in the New York Times. The piece raises the question of whether the hard-charging culture of the tech industry is what we want. Continue reading

Interstitial Publishing

Interstitial publishing, when paired with interstitial reading, is a new form of publishing that aims to take advantage of what previously was viewed as lost time in between primary events during the day. Interstitial publishing seeks ways to create new users by creating content expressly for those brief moments, which heretofore went unexploited for productive aims. Continue reading

What They Still Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School

A recent article about the publishing industry confuses the various business segments and offers prescriptions that are largely irrelevant to the task of running a publishing enterprise. Continue reading

Summertime and the Reading Is Easy

My nominee for a summer reading book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. This is a humorous book set in San Francisco. It playfully describes the clash between the new technology and the old world of printed books. Continue reading

Thinking about Internet Scale

The Internet operates on a scale unlike anything we have seen before. How must publishing adapt to this scale? This requires more than thinking of the Internet as another format. The scale of the Internet requires us to invite machines into our research and publishing activity. Continue reading

The Gatekeeper  Strategy in the Library Market

EBSCO is now, through the acquisition of YBP, the largest vendor to academic libraries of both serials and books. This is the beginning of a gatekeeper strategy, which will put EBSCO in a position to mediate a large proportion of the arrangements between publishers and libraries. Continue reading

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The mission of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is "[t]o advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking." SSP established The Scholarly Kitchen blog in February 2008 to keep SSP members and interested parties aware of new developments in publishing.
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The Scholarly Kitchen is a moderated and independent blog. Opinions on The Scholarly Kitchen are those of the authors. They are not necessarily those held by the Society for Scholarly Publishing nor by their respective employers.
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