Perspectives

Perspectives, insights, and research

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.
Read More
magoo hi-fi album cover

From the Scholarly Kitchen

The Double-bind Theory of Scholarly Publishing

January 7, 2019  |  By

Increasingly publishers are being asked to do more with less. New reporting requirements require higher administrative costs, and calls for increased quality controls necessitate expanded editorial oversight. On the other hand, there is significant downward pressure on revenue coming from customers (e.g., libraries) and funding agencies. The net result of this is that many of the quality controls people are demanding will go by the wayside.
Read More
do more with less zappos ad

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Plan S: Impact on Society Publishers

December 5, 2018  |  By

Plan S implementation guidance has not provided reassurance to anxious society publishers. The stated aim of Plan S is to achieve “full and immediate Open Access to publications from publicly funded research,” but the prohibition against publishing in hybrid journals is not needed to accomplish that aim.
Read More

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Navigating the Big Deal: A Guide for Societies

October 4, 2018  |  By

Shifts in how publishers market and sell journal packages have significant implications for society journal valuations over the long term. These same shifts may also be setting some societies up for publisher “lock-in” — making it difficult to change publishers in the future.
Read More
Futuristic Public Library

From the Scholarly Kitchen

How Traditional Publishing Works

September 17, 2018  |  By

Publishing is the business of investing in and marketing content that is largely text-based. Publishing can take the form of books, journals, databases, newspapers, magazines, and other content types. The common element of all these formats is that they are driven by editorial selection. They thus differ from emerging models in Open Access publishing, where the principal driver is the author and not the editor. The virtue of the traditional model, built on editorial selection, is that it sorts out content of inferior merit in favor of important and original work.
Read More
gears turning

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Rival Ecosystems: The Increasingly Porous Boundary between Institutional and Consumer Markets

August 20, 2018  |  By

Consumer markets are usually thought to be distinct from institutional markets. After all, what does an academic library want with books of popular culture, weight-loss schemes, and genre fiction? But what is now evolving is an increasingly blurriness between the two markets, brought on in large part by Amazon, which services primarily the consumer market but is now making inroads for library sales.
Read More
A puma mountain lion crouching on a tree waiting to pounce

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Why Hasn’t the Academy Taken Back Control of Publishing Already?

July 16, 2018  |  By

In recent years there has been a growing clamor for the academy to take back control of scholarly publishing. The academy has been poorly served by the large commercial publishers, this argument goes, whose interests are narrowly economic and fail to address the mission of the research community. Often this argument takes on a distinct anti-capitalist flavor, as though the place to start world revolution is not with the industries with real power (energy, telecommunications, defense) but with the tiny business of publishing, which facilitates the communications of a small group of people with one another. It’s possible, though, to sidestep the question of whether Wiley, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and their ilk have performed well or poorly as far as the interests of the academy are concerned and ask a different one: Whatever the merits of Elsevier, ProQuest, EBSCO, et al., what’s stopping academic institutions from taking charge once again?
Read More

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Counting the Holes in the Swiss Cheese: “Read and Publish” Discovers America

June 20, 2018  |  By

Whether a transformative agreement (where toll-access publications are “transformed” into Open Access documents) is structured as “read-and-publish” or “publish-and-read,” one implication in common is these agreements are likely to lead to cancellations of subscription-based journals at smaller institutions--or failing cancellation, downward pressure on pricing. The reason for this is that these agreements make a vast quantity of publication OA, disincentivizing smaller institutions to continue to pay for them. “Read-and-Publish,” in other words, creates uneconomic “holes” in a publisher’s distribution strategy.
Read More
ships sailing

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Libraries Face a Future of Open Access

May 23, 2018  |  By

What happens if Open Access becomes the de facto norm because provisioning of published materials to libraries is effectively “outsourced” to pirate sites such as Sci-Hub? Sci-Hub provides access to materials, but libraries do far more than that--they provide long-term preservation practices, for instance. It sounds counterintuitive to say it, but libraries and legacy publishers are in an unholy embrace. They need not love each other to feel they should stick together. What appears to get lost in discussions of the march of cancelled contracts is that it is not just publishers that are being disrupted. This is a disruption to the entire ecosystem.
Read More
al capone

From the Scholarly Kitchen

Publishing Continues to Outperform Perception

May 8, 2018  |  By

The publishing industry, and book publishing in particular, are always said to be on the brink of ruin. But the numbers don’t support this. Investors continue to research publishing companies and to buy the stocks of the commercial participants. This is because even in the adverse environments that so many publishers face, shrewd management conquers all. It would be a mistake to be overly optimistic about the business of publishing but predictions about its imminent demise are misplaced.
Read More
monopoly man