November 17, 2017

ProQuest Acquires SIPX

SIPX logoProQuest, through its affiliate Bowker, on April 8 acquired SIPX, the creator of a cloud-based digital course materials solution designed to eliminate redundant spending and address copyright concerns for universities and academic libraries. SIPX co-founder Franny Lee will continue to lead the company, reporting to ProQuest Senior VP for Strategy and Business Development Ben Lewis. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Developed at Stanford University prior to becoming an independent company in the fall of 2012, SIPX is designed to simplify the creation of digital course packs, automatically determining whether a university is already paying for access to selected journal articles or ebooks, or whether that content is available via public domain, open access, or as an open educational resource (OER).

For content that is not free or already licensed, SIPX streamlines licensing (including factors such as regional or country-based pricing), purchasing, and invoicing processes into a seamless online transaction for professors, librarians, and support staff. The system integrates with a wide range of platforms, including Learning Management Systems, course websites and wikis, library course reserves, and global massive open online courses (MOOCs) to make it easy for students and professors to then access the content.

“It’s about being platform agnostic, meeting users where they are, making sure that they understand the full breadth of all of the different content that is available to them, and making sure that they can access it at the right price point,” Lee told LJ. “Often that price point should be free [to students], because someone has already paid for their access.”

SIPX customers including the University of Illinois, the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin have reported that the platform helps students save an average of 20 to 35 percent in materials costs in courses where it is used.

Lee said that becoming a subsidiary of ProQuest will help SIPX with another key goal—enhancing the visibility of academic libraries and simplifying access to library content. This has become increasingly vital as students become accustomed to easy retrieval of information via Google and other commercial Internet sources, Lee added.

“Being able to leverage and make library holdings more visible [to students and faculty] is a core component of the SIPX service and the value proposition to universities,” Lee said. “There’s more places where these library connections need to happen…. As a small startup we’re pretty focused on understanding access and rights and copyright technologies, but we need to draw on larger resources and larger connections and larger expertise of a company like ProQuest.”

In particular, SIPX will benefit from ProQuest’s knowledgebase and expertise in discovery. Given ProQuest’s scope, there are likely many other ways that the companies might work together, but Lee said that it is still too early to discuss areas of potential collaboration.

“We’re in the exploratory stage” she said. “In Silicon Valley, we move fast…but at the same time we have to build smart. We’re not at the stage yet where we’ve identified a product priority list or strategies.”

ProQuest CEO Kurt Sanford added in a statement that “SIPX’s contributions to the Higher Education community align with ProQuest’s mission to connect libraries more deeply into the day-to-day research and education needs of students and faculty. Its service enables universities to further leverage the investments their libraries have made in their research collections. With our support, customer relationships, and investment, we will rapidly increase the availability and richness of SIPX’s services.”

SIPX charges a setup fee to academic customers, and bundles a small transaction fee in with any articles or ebooks that require royalty payments. Free content does not incur these fees. Although she noted that it is still early, Lee said that SIPX plans to continue operating with the same business model following the acquisition by ProQuest.

“It’s business as usual,” Lee said. “We don’t plan to make any changes to the business model, but we do plan to start exploring a lot of the features and connections that could benefit our mutual customers.”

For additional commentary on SIPX see:

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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    As I am an older person trying to get a handle on this modern way of marketing, if I was wanting readers to send in selfies doing something family friendly and healthy, would I rely on Instagram? As I mentioned, any suggestions very much appreciated. Best regards, mwd