What the Heck is Amazon up to Now?

Although Amazon is a central player in many areas of publishing and media, it is hard to predict where it will head next. This makes it hard to plan to compete with it. On the other hand, Amazon has some typical ways that it behaves when it enters a market and strategic planners can learn from them.

Winning Strategies for Journal Publishers

Although we in scholarly publishing typically focus on the problems we face, there is a small group of highly successful journal publishers. These publishers fall into three broad categories. To a great extent, these publishers are resistant to challenge.

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 Virtue of Rumor and Groundless Speculation

There is a rumor, based on no or scant evidence, that Google is preparing to launch a platform for scholarly communications, which could threaten established STM publishers. A publisher should react to this by reviewing its own internal operations and value proposition. In particular, the role in certification should be strengthened.

Bears Always Sound Smarter

Discourse about new ideas in publishing can be broken by the appetite to make exquisitely insightful remarks about things to do not yet exist. To work on truly new things, we have to stop performing the role of the skeptic.

Managing Two Companies at the Same Time

Many CEOs of publishing companies find themselves having to manage two companies: the established company and an in-house start-up that is designed to participate in a new paradigm based on digital media. Organizationally this is a very difficult situation to be in, but it is essential if a company is going to persist in the years ahead.