Strategic Digital Publishing
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Strategic Digital Publishing

Strategic Digital Publishing

The 2012 Professional Scholarly Publishing annual conference is coming to an end on a positive note for academic and scholarly publishers. The conference itself had a large turnout this year with literally 5 no-shows (unheard of!). Congratulations to all the organizers.

I am heartened by the state of academic publishing and I think the industry shares this feeling judging by the comments of the presenters, the record turnout, and the Q&A sessions. Following are just some of the highlights. Stay tuned as I gather some of the slides from presenters like Ned May from Outsell that detail ebook statistics and anticipated trends moving into 2012 and beyond.

Ebooks, ebooks, ebooks

Naturally, ebook conversations came up in all presentations. With the ongoing increase in tablet sales, STM/academic publishers are (finally) hearing the siren song of XML loud and clear and seeing how it translates into profits. Clark Morrell, president of Rittenhouse Book Distributors, shared an interesting story about a health professions publisher who recently purchased an e-product that was outside of its HP curriculum because they were finally able to take advantage of an unbundled piece of digital content that was relevant to HP. By unbundling the bundled content (ie, books), publishers have real growth opportunities. As Clark stated, “there’s no need to sell by the bottle when people want just a glass.”

Organizations that could revolutionize scholarly publishing

This presentation highlighted four companies that are opening up untapped content distribution channels, innovating around established business models and enhancing the end-user experience.

Pubget: the search engine for life-science PDFs. Recently acquired by the Copyright Clearance Center, this organization makes scientific research easier by simplifying the process of finding, managing and analyzing scientific papers.

TEMIS: a provider of semantic content enrichment solutions for enterprises. Its Luxid 6 software enables publishers to semantically tag content, which in turn facilitates discovery, faceted search results, product sandboxing, and a slew of additional benefits.

DeepDyve: the largest online rental service for scientific, technical and medical research. I’m most excited about this service for academic and scholarly publishers. I had the pleasure of sitting with CEO Bill Park at lunch who went into detail about the service. The basic idea is that users can rent PDF versions of published journal content. Partnering with a number of STM publishers and growing daily, users can search, find, and read journal abstracts and opt to rent the PDF for as little as 0.99 cents. Publishers need not fear the cannibalization of subscriptions because DeepDyve’s audience comprises businesses outside the publishers core market (eg, pharma, device manufacturers, etc).  In other words, untapped revenue for STM publishers. Win-win.

Mendeley: a reference manager and academic social network. The company was founded by two German PhD students who were frustrated with the lack of tools to organize their growing content collections and share information with other researchers.  What’s in it for publishers is that it offers a new (and social) approach to the impact factor. There’s much more and Mendeley’s overview video does a much better explanation than I can do here.

2011 PROSE Awards

Personally, the PROSE awards are my favorite part of this conference. People outside of scholarly publishing don’t recognize the talent, effort, money, and time that goes into producing quality works. This year the R.R. Hawkins Award was presented to The Diffusion Handbook: Applied Solutions for Engineers by R.K. Michael Thambynayagam, published by McGraw-Hill. It was an honor to hear the back story of how this book was lovingly made over 18 years. The author provides 1,000 solutions to a well known diffusion equation. The senior editor of the book liked to call it a picture book of the diffusion coefficient.

It was also a treat to see many RSuite customers on the winner list:

  • Elsevier
  • Oxford University Press
  • Cengage Learning
  • CQ Press

Congratulations to all the publishers, authors, and editors who were involved.

Content management

Though the terms metadata and content management were implied throughout the conference, it wasn’t until the last day that the actual term content management system was uttered. Like any transformative power, infrastructure is key. Without the proper landscape, people and processes will not achieve the desired goals. Roger Kasunic, VP of editing, design, and production at McGraw-Hill stated that “the customer expects access to content on their terms. CMS infrastructure must change from the old ways.”

Just so happens, we can recommend a great content management system for publishers!

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