Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Scholarly presses benefit from digital publishing
An interesting article by Scott McLemee on Inside Higher Ed discusses the recent move towards digital publishing and some of the advantages that it has provided for scholarly presses. The article begins with a telling quote from an observer of trends in the industry that reads, “We’re going to see a 15 year leap in the publishing industry in the next two years.” Interestingly enough, that comment was made last summer when the economy was in better shape and “before trillions of dollars starting vanishing into the ether.” The piece goes on to discuss an article written by Sandy Thatcher, director of Penn State University Press and past president of the Association of American University Presses entitled “The Hidden Digital Revolution in Scholarly Publishing: POD, SRDP, the ‘Long Tail,’ and Open Access.” In the article, Thatcher discusses how the small market for scholarly titles has actually given university presses an advantage because they have been able to experiment with and benefit from short-run digital publishing and print-on-demand while others in the industry are continually trying to reduce their costs through economies of scale. Additionally, university presses have been able to publish more scholarly works and distribute them to a broader audience through digital publishing. In the coming months, we can expect to see more acceptance of and experimentation with digital options as the industry struggles to find a more profitable business model during these tough economic times.