Perspectives

Perspectives, insights, and research

From the Scholarly Kitchen

The 360° Competitor

October 5, 2020  |  By

The recent announcement that Penguin Random House is pursuing an acquisition of Simon & Schuster points to an emerging paradigm, the publishing company that serves as a nexus for much of an industry’s activity. There are lessons here for STM publishing, too, as one can imagine Elsevier (or even ResearchGate) moving in this direction. A 360° competitor not only looks to its legacy customer base but also develops a strategy that radiates in all directions, becoming the partner of friends and rivals alike. Scale and imagination are prerequisites for this strategy, but the strategy also demands a willingness to unbundle the primary publishing platform and make it available to all comers.
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graphic of 360 degrees

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Good vs. Evil? Finding the Right Mix of For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Services

July 21, 2020  |  By

This post was co-authored by Joe Esposito and Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R.

Every day, choices are made, and positions advocated, about the best organizational forms for providing the various services needed for the academic enterprise. This is an important, and underexamined, issue for academia. As well-resourced as some universities are, they are not infinite in size, and, as a result, they have to prioritize their investments. When purchasing or developing scholarly communications services, library systems, and research workflow tools, individual universities seek cross-institutional scale, which can be achieved in a variety of ways, including open source software, institutional partnerships, consortia, and outsourcing to third-party organizations, both not-for-profit (NFP) and commercial in structure.
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From the Scholarly Kitchen

Marketing in Times of Disruption (and How to Avoid a #marketingfail)

July 1, 2020  |  By

Marketing, at the best of times is hard, and in a time of crises, it can feel near impossible. But market we must. Colleagues depend on marketing to develop programs to bring in revenue, which keeps people employed and enables the mission of scholarly and professional publishing to move forward. Customers depend on marketing to stay informed. A handful of simple but powerful strategies can make the difference between striking the right note and a #marketingfail.

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marketingfail

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Scientific and Scholarly Meetings in the Time of Pandemic

May 4, 2020  |  By

Conferences are so deeply embedded in the culture and cadence of science and academia that it is hard to imagine what professional life would look like without them. Many organizations are looking to replace conferences with virtual events, but simply streaming the same sessions on the same schedule may prove insufficient. Shifting meetings to virtual formats requires reconceptualizing meetings for the needs of attendees working from home — and rethinking business models, technologies, and processes as well. Societies and associations with annual meetings will need to think the implications for member engagement and member renewals, manuscript recruitment, education, and other ripple effects.
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From the Scholarly Kitchen

Building a Brain Trust

January 15, 2020  |  By

Heads of organizations--CEOs and Executive Directors--need to have a small group of trusted advisors to help in formulating strategy, especially when, for whatever reason, the questions at issue cannot easily be shared with the rest of the management and may initially be beyond the Board’s expertise. Building a brain trust must be done carefully; it must be viewed as a supplement to the management and Board and not a replacement.
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Little boy playing with can phone connected by string, concept for talking to yourself

From the Scholarly Kitchen

A Case for Popularization: A Review of Rockonomics

August 5, 2019  |  By

Academics are often treated contemptuously by their peers for attempting to write for a popular audience, but the case for popularization is strong, as it both educates the public and helps to gain support for the academic enterprise. Economist Alan Krueger’s Rockonomics is an exceptionally interesting take on the “winner-takes-all” nature of some industries, including music.
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Cover of book entitle Rockonomics

From the Scholarly Kitchen

The New “University Journals” in the Marketplace

May 6, 2019  |  By

The launch of a new journal called “University Journals” by a European consortium was the occasion for a piece on what it takes for a new service to become successful. The challenges are great, as even well-resourced start-ups, with prestigious backers (as is the case for “University Journals”), have to operate in an environment with a great deal of competition. This post lays out what has to be done to be successful.
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cola cans

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Where Does a University Press Sit in its Parent’s Priorities?

April 29, 2019  |  By

When Stanford University proposed cutting the subsidiary it provides for its university press, a furor erupted, in part because Stanford is an exceptionally well-endowed institution and the subsidy required seemed a pittance. But in the context of overall university finances and priorities, rarely are presses moved to the top of the pile. For a press to be successful, it has to develop a strategy, including a financial strategy, that does not require it to take money from the university’s operating fund.
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stanford press logo

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Strategic and Non-strategic Society Publishing

March 18, 2019  |  By

Publishing can be a strategic or nonstrategic asset for a society, depending on the society itself and the nature of the program. Many societies begin as publishers, but then evolve into larger entities, for which the publishing division becomes merely a source of money to finance other operations. When societies contemplate whether to continue to invest in their publishing programs or to divest these assets, the question of how central to the society’s overarching goals and mission become paramount. In adverse economic times, many societies are reconsidering just how strategic their publishing programs are.
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house with for sale sign

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Extracting Book Data from Library Information Systems

January 29, 2019  |  By

Working with Ithaka S+R we set out to answer two questions: What proportion of academic library sales of books does Amazon control, and have university press sales to libraries been declining? To these questions we added several more, including investigations into pricing and the subject categories that the acquisitions fell in. I am pleased to report that the final report for that project is now available on the Ithaka S+R Web site. I recommend it to everyone interested in the academic book market. One important takeaway from this study is that publishers and libraries alike seek to analyze their book programs and collections, but are stymied because the data is mostly controlled by intermediaries, who are disinclined to share that data.
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