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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Changing Nature of Scale in STM and Scholarly Publishing

Smaller independent and society publishers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the economies of scale around production, technology, and (most important) institutional sales that can be brought to bear by a large publisher. If you are a society that has been self-publishing for many decades, such effects may appear as only a recent headwind in a long publishing tradition. This headwind, however, is most likely not a temporary zephyr but rather a permanent fixture of the STM and scholarly publishing landscape, and one that will only increase in intensity. To understand why, it is helpful to look at the two vectors on which scale operates in STM and scholarly publishing: horizontal and vertical. While horizontal scale has long been the province of commercial publishers, society publishers are typically organized to take advantage of vertical scale. The headwinds are presently blowing along the horizontal plane, from the perspective of the society publisher.