On April 30, Scribd, which launched its “all you can read” $8.99 per month ebook subscription with HarperCollins as the first (and still only) Big Five publisher last fall, announced a deal that brought 1,000 Wiley titles to its subscription service, including all those in the “For Dummies” series.
In recent years, players from many corners of the publishing and research fields have been asking what can be done to make journal articles more affordable and accessible. For Arfon Smith, a co-founder of the citizen science site Zooniverse and now resident “science guy” at Github, the question he and a few collaborators wanted to answer was more basic—what makes a journal article, and how can that process be simplified? As an answer, or at least the beginning of one, Smith and his colleagues built The Open Journal, a software prototype built on top of the arXiv, an open physics research repository, that lets researchers and peer reviewers discuss edits inside a browser-based system and publish the results.
Mission Bell Media (MBM), a new publisher with a laser-like focus on leadership, took one step further into the public eye, debuting its official website on April 22. MBM is the brainchild of veteran academic publisher Rolf Janke, who founded SAGE Reference, an imprint of SAGE Publications, in 2001 and led it from three titles to nearly 300 over the course of a dozen years. Mission Bell Media combines Janke’s two passions: his own longtime study of what creates compelling leaders and his 30-plus years in academic publishing, which, he said, gave him a unique perspective on librarians leading change in academic libraries and paving the way for the next generation.
The library community has been talking about a “journal pricing crisis” for over two decades. What we have not seen so far is any kind of concerted effort to break through this cycle. But two growing movements—the push toward open access and the growth of library publishing programs—make me think that we may be reaching a tipping point. In a white paper released last month, library administrators Rebecca R. Kennison and Lisa R. Norberg describe the need for “deep structural changes” in the systems through which scholarship is created and communicated. I honestly do not know if their proposal is the one that will trigger these changes, but I know that they are pointing us in the right direction.
On May 5, a number of law professors around the country received an email from publisher Wolters Kluwer regarding the 11 books in the Aspen Casebook series they assign to their students. The email informed the educators that the casebook, which combines lessons about the legal system with documents from cases in which those principles were applied or set, would now be sold as a physical copy bundled with an ebook edition. There was just one catch: once the course was over, students would be required to ship their physical copies back to the publisher, rather than hanging onto them for reference or reselling them on the used book market.
As we approach this year’s BookExpo America (BEA), it’s useful, perhaps especially to publishers, to contemplate where libraries fit into the broad book market. It’s hard to ignore just how fundamentally important libraries have become to the potential success of a book—that is, if you pay attention to a few simple facts and are willing to question persistent myths.
When Open Road Media published an ebook edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 Newbery Award–winning Julie of the Wolves in 2011, it was business as usual for the company, which had secured rights from George prior to her death in 2012. But HarperCollins sued Open Road in 2011, saying that its 1971 contract superseded Open Road’s and gave it the exclusive right to license the ebook. On March 14, Publishers Lunch reported that Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald had ruled in favor of Harper.
Journal price data is important for budget management processes, but price alone is not the sole factor determining value. Some metrics, like Impact Factor, have become important in assessing value, and similar value metrics will only increase in importance in the future. The implementation of the Counter 4 during 2014 will expand the availability of usage data from journals, databases, ebooks, and multimedia to support better decision-making. Building upon COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) and working with the digital object identifier (DOI) and ORCID (open researcher and contributor ID) identifier, the PIRUS (Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics) Code of Practice is designed to provide usage data at the individual article level, consolidating usage across platforms.
The birth of the World Wide Web 25 years ago was the big bang event that spurred more change in the serials and scholarly publishing world than seen in the century that preceded it. Since that time, we have rapidly evolved from the print world to that of e-journals, e-journal packages, and open access (OA). But in the serials ecosystem, as in nature, not all things evolve at the same rate, and the cumulative impact of subtle steps can bring about profound change over time. Despite some notable events, such as the purchase of Mendeley by Elsevier, the sale of Springer to BC Partners, and the launch of SCOAP 3, there was no major disruption in the serials world during 2013.
Nine months after the merger of two of the biggest names in the publishing world, stakeholders and industry watchers may have their first good idea of what to expect from the newly created book giant Penguin Random House (PRH). The company released the results of its 2013 fiscal year, and the details paint a rosy picture for investors, even while executives say there is a lot of work left to be done merging the former Penguin and Random House business operations.