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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Learn from Wiley’s Legacy and Leadership

Guest Blog: Veronica Gancov, Digital Media Specialist, NACS-MS

The transition from print to digital for many publishers can be a difficult one, but for Wiley, a company that has been in business for more than 200 years, persistence has been key to their online success. Their transition from print to digital is examined in the Book Business webinar "Learn From Wiley’s Legacy and Leadership." Wiley began its digital transition more than 10 years ago, and it has honed its online presence into that of a leader in the field of academic and scientific publishing.

Since 1995, Wiley has explored all avenues of online and ebook formats, beginning with “Journal of Interactive Surgery.” In 2010, Wiley launched the “Wiley Online Library,” which is the second most-visited academic publisher web site according to Alexa Web traffic metrics. They have amassed more than 9,000 books, and hundreds of multi-volume reference works, laboratory protocols, and databases.

Under Wiley’s outgoing CEO and President of 23 years, William J. Pesce, Wiley consistently gained market share and profitability, and executed three of the largest and most successful acquisitions in the company’s history. Pesce says that the development work in going digital is incremental, layering on technology along with print.

Wiley has looked for multiple formats and multiple modes of delivery on its path to becoming a digital leader, and has designed and redesigned many workflows to find the optimal one. Wiley also acquired different partnerships with other companies, as well as acquiring other companies outright, and recruited talent from outside the publishing business in order to have greater control over their digital formats.

Stephen Smith, Wiley’s incoming President & CEO, who has been with the company since 1992, commented on the way that Wiley has prioritized what they wanted handled in-house as opposed to outsourcing the digital process. According to Smith, Wiley has always wanted to add value to the customer. He emphasizes that digital strategy is a huge consideration for any publishing business, and that the more flexible the content formats are that are offered, the more value is added to the customer.

When Wiley InterScience was launched, the company knew they needed a partner for the technical project of putting the journal online and developing access controls and search functions. Since Wiley did not have the capabilities in house, they brought them in house and found ways to work with them.

In December, Wiley Blackwell, the STMS and scholarly business publishing division of Wiley, announced the launch of mobile apps for select science journals. Smith sees this as a stand alone revenue opportunity, and he sees mobile as part of the overall mix, with advertising opportunities that will be interesting as well. Smith also states that although they are exploring these new avenues, they have not abandoned print altogether, but utilize POD to handle the lesser print load.

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