A World Elsewhere

Issue 28 · October 2020

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C&E Updates

Joe wrote a piece in The Scholarly Kitchen that we suspect we will be coming back to in years to come. Titled “The 360° Competitor,” the post explores how organizations might move to a central, and essential, position in an industry sector (Item 23).

A timely article from Colleen also appeared in The Scholarly Kitchen on how to optimize the many virtual conferences we are all participating in (Item 25). Writing in C&E Perspectives, Colleen additionally tackled the vexing issue of marketing structure and discusses an alternative to the centralized and distributed marketing approaches that so many organizations find themselves vacillating between (Item 24).

We are pleased to announced that the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has released a draft of a report authored by C&E on OA supply chain mapping. This effort is in support of a broader initiative, Developing a Pilot Data Trust for Open Access Ebook Usage, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Item 26)

And finally, we are hiring. If you are interested in working with (always) thoughtful and (mostly) congenial colleagues on engaging and impactful assignments, please take a look at our job advertisement (see Item 28) and let us know why you think you’d be a good fit at C&E.

A World Elsewhere


PLOS, the inventor of the megajournal, is no stranger to innovation. With its announcement of Community Action Publishing (CAP), the company is now seeking to move its two highly selective Gold OA journals, PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, to a new model in which universities agree to underwrite the costs of publishing for their faculty, if they should choose to publish their work with PLOS (and if PLOS’s editors will have them). While the details of the program are interesting in themselves, of greater moment is the aim, captured in the word “community,” to create a system outside the demand-driven marketplace: like Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, PLOS believes that “there is a world elsewhere.” Whether CAP will fare better in the end than Coriolanus, only time will tell.

But, first, how this works. The program is ably explained on the PLOS site (though the color choices may hurt your eyes!), reviewed dispassionately by Kent Anderson at The Geysersummarized in full by Science, and celebrated by David Worlock, but the gist is this: rather than collect article processing charges (APCs) from the authors of accepted manuscripts, PLOS proposes that institutions become members in the two journals’ respective “communities” for three years. The cost of that membership is calculated by counting up the number of articles a particular institution’s faculty have published in the journals in previous years. A significant innovation comes into play here. Unlike most institutional payment schemes (such as transformative agreements) that associate a paper to an institution using only the corresponding author, CAP looks at the affiliation of all authors of a paper. This substantially increases the number of a institutions in the “community” and, by doing so, seeks to sidestep the greatest problem with OA payment models based on output, namely that such models result, by definition, in concentrating payments at a small number of research-intensive universities while the majority of institutions to become free riders. The CAP model is therefore, at least in theory (we’ll come back to the practical implications), an elegant solution to a vexing market problem.  

The journals will be a kind of hybrid (though not in the way the term is typically applied to journals that offer traditional subscriptions alongside open access payments), which will publish both institutionally sponsored work and accepted papers whose authors pay an APC. The APC (called a “non-member fee”) for unaffiliated authors will rise quite a bit, from $3,000 today to $5,500 and $6,300 for PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine respectively by 2023. Raising the price for individual items as an incentive to purchase a collection is a time-honored practice, putting PLOS in the same camp as other publishers (Elsevier, Wiley, et al.), whom PLOS and its adherents may not see as its peers. 

An interesting twist is the “margin cap” — meaning how much profit PLOS will make on these services. PLOS will limit itself to a margin (profit) of 10% after taking direct and indirect costs into account. “Indirect costs” is another term for overhead, the allocation of which is an internal prerogative. If the actual profit exceeds 10%, the members will get a refund. A critic might say that the membership fees are subscriptions by another name, but it may be more accurate to think of the fees as an assessment, not dissimilar to the property tax imposed on homeowners to support police, fire departments, schools, road maintenance, and so forth. CAP is really being conceived as a form of infrastructure.

CAP potentially solves two problems. The first is the matter of inclusiveness. By moving the cost of supporting the service from individuals to institutions, CAP addresses this problem, as no author is barred from publishing in the journals because of an inability to pay (assuming the author belongs to a participating institution — and as we note above, PLOS’s innovation to seek membership from the institutions affiliated with all authors greatly expands the potential institutional pool). 

The other problem CAP addresses is that of profitability. The two PLOS journals are losing money (“cross-subsidized” in the euphemism of the day), and improving profitability for a selective OA journal is no mean trick. Such a journal could attack costs — but PLOS is already doing this. Or it could publish more papers — but this would likely make the journals less selective. Or it could raise prices — or could it? But this in fact is one thing the new model accomplishes: it raises prices indirectly by setting the membership tiers at a level that will yield more dollars per paper than previously. Some will be disturbed to discover this, as it seems to fly in the face of connotations of “community,” but we say, More power to PLOS if they have come up with a way to get broader support for the (excellent) work that they do.

As elegant as the CAP model is, it has one weakness, which is scalePLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine are selective journals. They do not publish a lot of papers (under 800 papers annually in aggregate between the two titles). This raises the question as to whether it will be worth the trouble for many institutions to participate in CAP. If authors from a given institution only publish a few papers annually in these two journals (and seem to be finding the funds for APCs just fine now), is it worth the trouble for a university to participate? 

It would be more compelling (for institutions) if PLOS ONE were included in the CAP program, but that would be challenging for PLOS for two reasons. The first is that while CAP limits the margins for these two journals at 10% (which represents a substantial margin increase), PLOS is able to realize a higher overall margin via its other journals, most notably PLOS ONE. So CAP is in fact artfully designed to create a margin floor for the organization but not a margin ceiling (including PLOS ONE would turn CAP into a true 10% cap). The second reason is the technical challenge of linking authors to affiliated institutional accounts. It is challenging to link merely the corresponding author of a paper to the affiliated institutional account. That is because it requires normalizing institutional names and sorting out parent-child relationships (and in some cases grandparents or consortia affiliations). If, for example, PLOS Medicine receives a paper from an author at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which institution needs to be a CAP member? The Children’s Hospital or the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine of which it is a part? Or is it the main Northwestern University campus that might be a member? Will those linkages be articulated in PLOS’s submission systems? Publishers must keep track of these relationships with regard to subscriptions (and have had to build new systems and processes to support the complexities of transformative agreements), which are complicated by the fact that institutions choose to pay for certain subscriptions (or memberships) from certain accounts — one title or package may be paid for by the medical school and another from the main campus and a third via a consortia. The same will be true for CAP, and while it will be challenging for PLOS to manage this complex web of affiliations and institutional relationships, it is feasible given the relatively small output associated with PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. Scaling up to manage this for the approximately 20,000 papers published annually by PLOS ONE (multiplied by the number of authors on these papers) would be a technical and data management feat that would be daunting for the largest of publishers. It is for this same reason that we question whether CAP represents a model that is viable for other publishers — implementing CAP at a small scale poses market adoption challenges and implementing it at a large scale poses significant technical and logistical challenges. 

Logistical matters to the side (after all, it is PLOS that must implement this — we just get to watch!), what is interesting about this model is the bigger picture it represents. Traditional publishing is based on market demand. Publishers create products that have to satisfy customers; if they did not, there would be no demand and no business. Satisfying demand in this way is the task of both for-profit and not-for-profit publishers — for Elsevier as well as the university presses of Chicago, California, and Duke. It is our constant refrain to society publishers, among many not-for-profit organizations, that despite their IRS status they will have to learn to operate in the marketplace directly against for-profit firms whose primary mission is to benefit their shareholders. CAP is a rebuke to this perspective. While it will operate in a business-like way (the strategic analysis and business modeling that went into its creation is impressive), it is built upon a platform of community cooperation. It is thus not only a business model or a publishing service but a social experiment. What would the world look like outside the rigors of the marketplace? Perhaps there is a revolution brewing in the PLOS offices in San Francisco and a generation from now we will look back and say, That is where it started. 

Source: PLOS, The Geyser, Science, DavidWorlock.com, The Scholarly Kitchen

Professional and Academic Publishing


Springer Nature calls off its IPO, again, “because of market conditions” (again). While technically accurate, in that the condition of the market is such that investors are not willing to buy shares at the price desired by current equity holders, at a certain point, and given the many successful IPOs this year (September was the busiest month for IPOs in the history of the New York Stock Exchange), one has to ask if it is the market or the target share price that is at issue? Which begs the question: Has Springer Nature come up with a convincing story about its prospects and, by extension, the future of scholarly publishing? It is true that the European markets have been less exuberant with regard to IPOs this year (Springer Nature had intended to list on the Frankfurt Exchange), though the Springer Nature IPO might have helped anchor what is shaping up to be a strong finish to the year. We will have to wait to see if the third time’s the charm.

Source: Bloomberg, MediaPost, The Wall Street Journal


Speaking of Springer Nature, the publisher announced back in April that it intended to offer Plan S–compliant open access options across its entire journal portfolio — including the highly selective Nature family of journals. The publisher has reached its first OA agreement, with the Max Planck Society, related to the Nature portfolio. Notable is the eyebrow-raising per-article price of €9,500 ($11,200 USD) used as the basis for the agreement. This per-article cost is averaged across the 34 Nature titles and likely does not come close to covering the real costs of publishing in the flagship Nature itself (meaning publication in Nature is being cross-subsidized under this model — see Item 1 above). While the costs are high on a per-article basis, given the selective nature of the portfolio the cost may prove palatable to many institutions in absolute terms. If this proves to be the case, it will pave the way for a more differentiated OA model with (much) higher price points for highly selective journals.

Source: Nature


When Wiley signed its landmark Publish and Read agreement with Projekt DEAL, one of the agreement’s provisions was that Wiley would create a new broad-scope journal for (but not necessarily limited to) authors affiliated with Projekt DEAL institutions. The launch of the journal, called Natural Sciences (how is it possible that there is not already a journal with that name?), has been announced. The price point for article-processing charges (APCs) for the new journal is set at $5,000 USD, a significant amount for a new journal with no track record. This is roughly on par with Nature Communications and even higher than Science Advances and Physical Reviews X. However, all three of these other journals have double-digit impact factors. Of course, there will be no charge to authors from institutions that have Publish and Read agreements with Wiley, which is perhaps the best way to understand this journal: it is the first journal designed for Publish and Read with the assumption that APCs will be paid via institutional accounts.

Source: Wiley


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued an extraordinary public warning about misinformation campaigns in foreign journals, writing:

Foreign intelligence services have used online journals, including some with a global reach, to exacerbate disunity and dysfunction in the United States while also misinforming or misleading readers. Foreign governments have used these journals to amplify their disinformation and overt propaganda, and they have used websites, social media, and other online platforms to amplify the journals’ messages and increase their global reach.

The warning does not cite any specific examples (we assume they are not talking about “Lancet-gate”), and an inquiry to the Boston FBI field office by Kent Anderson over at The Geyser yielded no further information, leaving us to wonder. The warning is noted, however: the global disinformation wars, long centered around state media and more recently social media, have come to scholarly publishing.

Source: FBI/CISA, The Brief, The Geyser


The New England Journal of Medicine has joined The Lancet and Science (see Item 6 in last month’s issue of The Brief) in issuing an editorial calling for a change of administration. According to The Washington Post, this is the first time in its 208-year history that the journal has weighed in on an election of any kind. The editorial pulls no punches:
Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies… Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. 

Source: The Brief, The Washington Post, New England Journal of Medicine


Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has announced it is joining Plan S and will be requiring research that it funds to be open access immediately upon publication and under a CC BY license. This marks the first substantial funder to join Plan S since its launch cohort back in 2019. Since 2019, several funders have left the coalition, so the addition of HHMI is significant. It is also significant because of the caliber of the research that HHMI funds. While the research funded by cOAlition S–affiliated funders represents a tiny fraction of global research (Delta Think has estimated that coalition-funded papers account for 3.5% of global output, but that was prior to the departure of several funders), that research skews toward publication in higher-impact journals. Clarivate has estimated that papers funded by the coalition accounted for at least 6% of the papers indexed in the Web of Science but for some highly selective titles it is much higher (the figures for NatureScience, and PNAS are 35%, 31%, and 20%, respectively, according to the same analysis by Clarivate). The addition of HHMI will further bolster the coalition’s traction among high-profile titles, which tend to lead in terms of setting industry practices and policies. 
The HHMI policy will take effect in January 2022, though it is offering a grace period, until 2023, for research published in hybrid journals “run by nonprofit organizations such as scholarly societies.” The terms “run by” and “such as” in the proceeding sentence leave questions. Does this mean that a journal owned by a society but published by a commercial publisher is excluded from the grace period? What if a journal is owned by a society but published by a not-for-profit publisher such as a university press? What if the journal is owned and published by a not-for-profit that is not a society, such as a university press? While some questions remain, we are glad to see some thought is being given to the challenges faced by societies, though a year extension still does not buy enough time for some societies to make substantial publishing program changes.

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Delta Think, Clarivate


Ithaka S+R has published a survey of society directors on the challenges of managing through the pandemic and how this period of disruption is likely to affect practices on the other side of it. There are no big surprises here; most societies are dealing with issues that are fairly well known. For example, everyone has transitioned to working virtually, and while the transition has not been painless, most societies have learned to adapt. They are not sure whether they will remain all-virtual after the pandemic, move everybody back into offices, or develop hybrid operations. One advantage of a greater use of WFH is the ability to recruit talented people from anywhere (not to mention the savings in rent!). Societies that are highly dependent on the revenue from conferences will suffer the most from the pandemic, and there is no clear idea of when business travel will return to normal or whether people will still be willing to attend (and pay for) conferences as they did in the past. Virtual conferences open up new opportunities, but it takes time and trial and error to develop a successful business model for them. There are possible knock-on effects to consider, too. For example, diminished conference attendance and a cutback in the number of faculty positions (due to university budget problems) could mean fewer conference papers (and a smaller business opportunity in the sale of conference proceedings). Virtualization also makes every society inherently an international one, creating the problem of bumping into new competition around the globe. A fair summary of the survey would be to say that societies were already experiencing some negative long-term trends and that the pandemic has exacerbated them, sometimes severely.

Source: Ithaka S+R


It has been an observation of ours that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations are widely discussed and embraced in Europe and the UK. They are often on the agenda at UK and European publishing conferences, and their colorful icons frequently make an appearance in the slide decks of European and UK publishers when pitching to societies. And yet, we cannot recall even a passing mention of UN SDGs by a US organization of any kind. This observation is in part validated by the recent announcement of the launch of the SDG Publishers Compact. The list of European signatories includes Elsevier, Emerald, CABI, and other notable publishing houses. In the US, there are only three signatories, one of whom is the UN itself (whose publishing operations are based in New York). We don’t have an explanation for this curious discrepancy.

Source: United Nations


India may be the latest government to pursue a national subscription license that would make scholarly journals available to all individuals in the country. While such national deals have been struck in smaller nations, a national deal in India would be a major development in the industry. The deal being mooted by the Indian government is contemplated to be focused (at least at the onset) on the largest publishers and based on a subscription model (there remains debate as to whether a centralized fund for article-processing charges might also be developed). This marks a substantial change in policy for the country, which was only recently contemplating joining Plan S.

Source: Nature



The University of California, in keeping with its “negotiation-by-press-release” modus operandi, has announced that it is actively negotiating with Elsevier about licensing some part of Elsevier’s portfolio, after having come to no agreement earlier this year.

Source: UC Davis Library


MarkLogic, a software company that supports the workflows of many publishers via XML-oriented data management solutions, has announced that it will be acquired by private equity firm Vector Capital.

Source: MarkLogic


Sign of the times: Underline Science, a virtual conference platform for events in science, medicine and academia, announces a significant investment from ProQuest.

Source: Underline Science

Higher Education


In a disturbing study, scholars have found that students are not able to consistently tell truth from falsehood in online materials, for which the researchers blame the methods now in use for teaching information literacy. There were several problems in how the students assessed the trustworthiness of stories they were asked to examine. For example, even though the students were told that they could supplement their investigation by searching for additional material on the Web, few did, taking for granted the authority of the one site under question. Some students were not able to discern that one of the stories they were examining was satirical (based on our own experience with comments on blogs, we are not surprised by this). The paper’s conclusion is damning: “Alarmingly, students’ approach was consistent with guidelines that can be found on many college and university websites [emphasis added]. Sometimes these materials are just plain wrong. Sometimes they are incomplete. Sometimes they are so inconsistent that they offer scant guidance for navigating the treacherous terrain of today’s internet. Educational institutions must do a better job helping students become discerning consumers of digital information. Our society and its democratic institutions depend on it.”

Source: Stanford History Education Group

The Book Business


These are bad times for bookstores. According to the American Booksellers Association, since the beginning of the pandemic, one bookstore each week has gone out of business. Vox reports that  “Powell’s [of Portland, OR] and other independent bookstores across the country face an uncertain and undoubtedly difficult future: Government assistance has dried up, foot traffic is still low, and the virus is again threatening to bring everything to a screeching halt.” This is despite the fact that book publishers are having a good year, with sales up 6%, for the simple reason that full or partial lockdowns mean more time to read. Bookstores are making heartfelt appeals to their patrons and adding new services, including home delivery and creating “secret” packages: a box of books in a particular genre purchased sight unseen for a special price. Store signage has taken on a certain bitter sarcasm: “Buy books from people who want to sell books, not colonize the moon.” This, of course, is a reference to the villain of the story, Jeff Bezos, who in addition to being the founder and CEO of Amazon is also the owner of the space travel start-up Blue Origin. Take out your telescope and keep an eye on that moon shot, as we will be coming back to it.
The bad times in bookselling have struck the iconic as well as the small neighborhood shops. Paris’s legendary Shakespeare and Company has seen sales drop 80%, and New York’s The Strand, among the best-known independent retail establishments in the US, has seen sales drop 70% this year. This prompted the owner, Nancy Bass Wyden (wife to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — we will be returning to this — and granddaughter to Strand founder Benjamin Bass), to put out an appeal to book lovers everywhere. The orders came rushing in. The Strand had so much online commerce that its website crashed, and people lined up, masked, to shop in the physical stores. The Washington Post (also owned by Jeff Bezos) reports that Wyden created the Twitter hashtag #savethestrand, which is worth following both for its ebullience and its skepticism about a store owner who is alleged to be a union-buster. The union is the principal subject, along with Wyden’s venality, of an extraordinary piece in The Baffler, a publication that we read so that you don’t have to. The Baffler sees the problems at The Strand purely in terms of management malfeasance, an attempt to undermine the union. There is a hint of corruption and conspiracy (yes, she is married to a Senator) and allegations of misappropriating pandemic relief funds. Indeed, all the problems at The Strand would be alleviated if Wyden just went away. “To have [Wyden] running [the store] is kind of a doomsday scenario,” says one employee and union member. “We love our jobs. We love the store. We want this place to succeed … She’s the problem, she’s getting in our way.” Getting in our way? Yes, she only owns the place.
But we return to that moon shot and Amazon and the astronomical colossus that is Jeff Bezos. Maybe wanting to buy books from someone who is trying to go to the moon (and beyond) is precisely the point. Bezos saw the potential in the Internet before other booksellers did, and now he can indeed lay claim to the sun, moon, and stars.

Source: The New York Times, Vox, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Baffler


In an extensive, appreciative profile of Madeline McIntosh, CEO of Penguin Random House U.S., we learn that the book business is changing. It is consolidating and becoming increasingly data-driven. It is also driving out the old school of “intuitionists,” who made judgments about books based on gut instinct. (There is no discussion of whether some people have better guts than others, which seems to us like an obvious datapoint to examine). McIntosh, who started out in fine arts before moving into publishing, has always taken an unconventional view of the business, seeing early on that the Internet would change everything; she even had a stint at (gasp!) Amazon, a sharp rebuke to the tweedy members of the profession. The thing about this article is that it could have been written 30 years ago, except that the figure profiled would have been someone else, probably Dick Snyder, CEO of Simon & Schuster, who also was viewed as too much the bottom-line businessman to fully appreciate the spiritual lives of Ivy League English majors. A better history of the industry would begin with the end of WWII and the rise of the American consumer economy, with the attendant new emphasis on education, using state money to develop a market of readers. With the accession of new generations, smaller in size than the Baby Boom, the industry grew at a slower pace, to the current point where it is essentially flat and consolidating. Business types do well in this environment at the five or six large companies that dominate the business, which also contain any number of intellectuals, would-be writers, modern-day bohemians (aka hipsters), political activists, and club-hoppers. The real story of American book publishing is how its management ranks continue to harness the creative energy of its staff, who despise,  as a matter of principle, the economic environment in which they work (and which compensates them handsomely). Some things never change.

Source: The New York Times


After its acquisition by Follett, Baker & Taylor, one of the book industry’s foremost wholesalers, announced that it was ceasing to service academic libraries (focusing on public libraries instead). That decision has been repealed, and B&T is once again serving the academic sector with its enormous catalog of books and other media. The renewed competition is highly welcome.

Source: Library Technology Guides


For those nostalgic for the Frankfurt Book Fair this past month (the Book Fair was an all-digital affair), the wags at Digital Science started a game called #MissingtheMesse on Twitter. The game is to concoct your own German compound word related to your experience at the Book Fair. There were a lot of great entries. Our favorites include: 

  • Hangirgwandern — wandering the hall, hangry & zombie-like looking for something to eat (from Jennifer Kemp)
  • Rezeptionheuschreckenschwarm — the locust-like swath of destruction caused by a group of publishers moving from booth to booth at about half past five looking for canapés (from Phill Jones)
  • Taxiwarteschlangebrauchenfahrrad — (taxi – queue – need – bike). Self-explanatory (from Toby Green). 

Digital Science’s Ben McLeish impressively reads them here.

Source: Twitter



Fresh off winning the Nobel Prize (with Emmanuelle Charpentier), Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna offers some thoughts on the future of CRISPR. She sees a great deal of activity in a number of areas and has herself helped to found companies that produce diagnostic tests (MammothBiosciences) and, with Scribe Therapeutics, that explore “opportunities to use CRISPR for neurodegenerative diseases.” (Mammoth has announced a test for COVID-19: “What’s exciting with the CRISPR technology is that it’s potentially a faster and more direct way to detect the presence of the virus and also relies on a different supply chain than what’s necessary for the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.”) She envisions that “we’ll see CRISPR being used not to edit genomes, or at least not to make permanent changes to genomes, but instead to regulate them, to control levels of human proteins that are produced from different genes. This is a newer way of using the CRISPR technology. I think it has a lot of potential to allow control of cells that doesn’t require actual permanent chemical changes being made to the DNA.”

Source: Future Human (via Medium)


Just when you thought that you couldn’t stand one more video meeting, a number of new companies, and also established companies (Google, Microsoft) that are dusting off old offerings in light of Zoom’s explosive success, are starting up, some with the higher ed market in the crosshairs. We note in particular Engageli (candidate for worst company name ever) and ClassEDU for Zoom. The two companies take very different approaches, and they both have interesting pedigrees. Engageli’s founders are the husband-and-wife team of Dan Avida (CEO) and Daphne Koller, who also cofounded Coursera, giving Engageli a Stanford connection. ClassEDU for Zoom was founded by the former CEO of Blackboard, Michael Chasen. Both companies have skillfully raised venture capital. Engageli is taking the clean-sheet-of-paper approach, designing its product from the ground up. The inspiration came from the founders’ experience with their own children, stuck at home for the pandemic, and their struggles with the limitations of Zoom. Among other things, Engageli is enabling greater interactivity and offline learning options. ClassEDU, on the other hand, is built on top of Zoom, reducing the cost of development (and maintenance), meaning that the company’s breakeven point will be lower; and no one should underestimate Chasen’s ability to introduce technology to academic customers. Here is a forecast you can count on: By the end of next year we will be awash in video offerings, and out of that forest of competitors one gorilla and one only will emerge. That is how tech works. Place your bet here.

Source: Inside Higher Ed



Andy Bird starts the job as Pearson’s CEO. 
Jessica Lawrence-Hurt has been appointed Chief Marketing Officer of Cadmore Media.
Mary McAveney of Open Road Integrated Media has added the position of Chief Revenue Officer to her responsibilities.
Phoebe McMellon has been appointed the CEO of GeoScienceWorld.
Amy Pawlowski has been appointed Executive Director of OhioLINK.
Susan Winslow has been promoted to president of Macmillan Learning.


 John N. Berry III, long-time editor of Library Journal, dies at 87.
Tom Maschler, publisher and founder of the Booker Prize, dies at 87.
K. Wayne Smith, former President and CEO of OCLC, dies at 82.

Briefly Noted


One seldom sees a deep dive into the inner workings of a journal — unless something has gone spectacularly wrong. Such is the case with this profile of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory (Chicago, on behalf of the Society for Ethnographic Theory) in the Chronicle of Higher Education. 
Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler allows a user to look up what words first appeared in print 
for any given year.
Great moments in the history of footnoting.
Alexander Rose looks at the characteristics of long-lived institutions (over 200 years old). There are 5,500 such organizations. The largest cohort focuses on making or serving alcohol or food. The list skews heavily to Japan. 90% of long-lived institutions have 300 employees or less. 

A copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was just sold in auction for $10 million.

One might assume that in order to be highly cited a paper must first exist. That is not the case! “The art of writing a scientific article” by Van der Geer, J., Hanraads, JAJ., and Lupton, RA. (J Sci Commun) has been cited 480 times despite not actually existing.

Take a virtual tour of the museum of obsolete library technology.

Following in the path of Annual Reviews, IWA Publishing (International Water Association) launches a pilot designed to flip its journals portfolio to a Subscribe-to-Open model. We think the marketing copy should read: “H2O to S2O.” 
Nature’s second progress report on the pandemic
Cambridge University Press reorganizes, bringing together its publishing and assessment operations. CUP also announced that it will seek “transformative journal status” from Plan S for the majority of its journals. 
celebration of the syllabus
Roger Schonfeld on the growing scientific schism between China and the West. 
An irreplaceable source of information: An update on the ongoing development of the Keepers Registry, a global service that tracks the activities of archiving agencies related to the digital preservation of serial publications.
landscape review of library discovery services in 2020. 
Building the mathematical “library” of the future: A growing community of mathematicians are manually digitizing proofs (the surprising part of this story is that this has not already been done).
Woe unto the Danish primary investigator who fails to report clinical trial results in a timely manner. The Danish Medicines Agency will seek to levy fines or imprisonment of up to 4 months against sponsors (including noncommercial sponsors) who fail to publish the results of clinical trials on time.  
The 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to American poet Louise Glück.

From Our Own Pens


Joe authored a piece about a new breed of company, which he terms “the 360° competitor.” Amazon is the epitome of such a company: central to an industry, operating at great scale, touching almost every industry participant. But the key aspect of such a company is that it serves as a nexus for an entire industry segment, where friends and rivals alike must pass through. The key to becoming a nexus is to unbundle the company’s platform.

Source: The Scholarly Kitchen


The optimal marketing structure is a critical component of a successful marketing function. It is also an intensely debated topic. The structural debate is often framed as a binary choice between a centralized structure and a decentralized structure. Since both centralized and decentralized structures have compelling advantages and notable drawbacks, organizations feel as if they are faced with an impossible choice. Colleen discusses a better approach

Source: C&E Perspectives


Colleen also wrote a timely piece on how best to optimize the many virtual conferences we all are participating in. Among other things she notes that “This current virtual-only environment offers a sandbox for marketers to test new digital marketing approaches. Since it is likely that different disciplines, event types, and customer groups will yield different results, it is important to test and measure results across different customer segments.” 

Source: The Scholarly Kitchen


The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has released a draft of a report authored by C&E on OA supply chain mapping. Key findings from the report include: 

  • Journal-based standards and models are a poor fit for OA books.
  • The supply chain is built for paid access and incentives are aligned for paid access — not necessarily for OA.
  • Distribution processes are complex, and do not easily handle changes to a title’s OA status.
  • Existent standards and practices are not yet firmly established for OA monographs and some are insufficient.
  • The large and growing number of platforms that deliver OA books to end users creates challenges for usage reporting. 

This effort is in support of a broader initiative, Developing a Pilot Data Trust for Open Access Ebook Usage, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We welcome feedback on the report which you can provide here.

Source: NISO, Book Industry Study Group



In the September 2020 issue of The Brief (see Item 11) we incorrectly reported that Sheridan’s parent company CJK Group had acquired the printing operations of Cenveo. That is not accurate. CJK has acquired the content services division of Cenveo Publisher Services and will be merging it with Sheridan Journal Services and hosting platform Sheridan PubFactory to form KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. (KGL). The deal did not, however, include printing plants. The former Cenveo Publisher Services Group, which included printing plants in Lancaster, PA, and Hurlock, MD, has been acquired by Intellicor. The newly formed KGL will interact with the former print services group of Cenveo, to facilitate print services.

Join C&E


C&E is hiring a Consultant. This is an opportunity for an individual looking for intellectual challenge as well as work–life balance and flexibility. You will have the opportunity to work on business strategy projects with the top executives at professional associations, publishers, universities, software companies, and other organizations that produce, distribute, or curate professional and scholarly information. This is a great position for interacting with all segments of the industry and seeing first-hand how many different organizations operate. Read the full position description and apply here. (Note: we will be closing applications after November 16).

We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. — Louise Glück