Last week we went to Tech Tuesday: Turn, Click, Swipe: the next Chapter for Academic Publishing hosted by The London Book Fair at The Oxford Retreat in central Oxford.  

The Panel was made up of Ingram’s David Taylor, Crossref’s Rachael Lammey, Andy Redman from Oxford University Press Academic, Chris Fowler from Librarian Oxford Brookes, and Pippa Smart, a publishing consultant.  Jacks Thomas of London Book Fair moderated the panel who presented to a packed audience of publishing professionals.

The first topic discussed the importance of social media to the scholarly publishing community. By this I mean our ability to curate valuable data to do a focused push to the audience we want, and Facebook groups becoming part of the supply chain for many publishers. Library Connect states that “Sharing digital content by email, internal networks, cloud services, or social networks is now widespread—nearly 60% of researchers surveyed by Elsevier admit to regularly sharing journal articles on a wide variety of channels.” 

Moving onto the bigger issues, OUP stated that the volume of academic content has gone up by 70% in recent years and that it is expensive to publish. One would think that digital publishing would be as lot cheaper but it’s not. Hosting and supporting digital content requires resources and publishers need to find new ways of monetising this investment. Also, big data, is an issue – how does the reader find what they want when there is so much information?

Publishers increasing the amount of content they produce discoverabilty and also monotiseing this content has to be a key focus.

Following on from that, the complication of multiple business models was debated. The way that business models are applied are so varied it’s difficult to navigate, especially for librarians. One emerging model discussed was Patron Driven Acquisition – a model of library collection development in which a library only purchases materials when it is clear that a patron actually wants them – which is difficult to work effectively, and often the budgets for PDA runs low quickly.  

The topic of Open Access was brought up and has been a huge discussion point for many years. How can publishers make money when a business model no longer exists? Publishing is an expensive business so if we want to make OA work, we need to find a way of doing this cheaper. David Taylor made the point that no one seems to know how to make money from OA. 

Finally, the most exciting developments in tech were discussed. The benefits of Print on Demand to publishers are extensive: it means a lot less waste and saves publishers money, making the whole industry much more efficient.  Without warehouses full of stock that needs to be pulped, it also makes the industry much more environmentally friendly. 

Another development that is driving efficiency is improvements to search engine capabilities within publishers’ websites.  Enabling customers to find what they are looking for a lot quicker therefore minimizes the chance of them moving onto another website and increases the likelihood of making a sale. 

What we took away from this meeting was that if you want people to adopt these new technologies then we need to make them simple, easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to implement.  So all in all it seems the next chapter for Academic Publishing is very much technology based.


Jane Tappuni

Jane Tappuni is Head of Marketing and Business Consultant for IPR