Aaup 2014 plenary presentation 1.1


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The Business Model is a Community Affair

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Aaup 2014 plenary presentation 1.1

  1. 1. The Business Model is a Community Affair Joseph J. Esposito AAUP Annual Conference June 2014
  2. 2. We talk so often about new business models, but what is the current business model, anyway? If it is broken, as so many say, what precisely is the nature of the breakage? This is not an argument over the old vs. the new but simply a matter of clarification.
  3. 3. Topics • Defining the ground • UP publishing vs. other kinds of academic publishing • The university press in the context of the parent institution • What’s wrong with being a better publisher? • The free-rider problem
  4. 4. Defining the Ground • Not addressing journals or service businesses • Focused on books by scholars for scholars, not (e.g.) classroom texts or regional titles • Include all book revenue: print, digital, sub rights, permissions, aggregation shares, etc.
  5. 5. UP Publishing vs. Library Publishing UPs • Authors mostly from other institutions • Marketplace economics • Primarily toll access • Primarily book-length works • Print and digital • Peer review • Challenge to get home institution support Libraries • Authors mostly from home institution • Institutional support • Primarily open access • Primarily articles • Almost entirely digital • No peer review policy • Strong home support (e.g., article deposit mandates)
  6. 6. UPs vs. For-profit Book Publishers UPs • Mission based • Peer review • Commitment to support certain disciplines • Largely anchored in humanities • With exceptions, mostly small enterprises For-profit Publishers • Work for shareholders • Variety of review policies • No interest in categories that are unprofitable • Diverse; humanities and STM publishing • With exceptions, many linked to large companies
  7. 7. OA Books vs. OA Journals Journals • Strong STM, weak HSS • Mandates from funding agencies, inc. government • Green and Gold models • Conspicuous financial successes (PLOS, BMC) • First-copy cost is low (because length of articles) Books • No traction to date • Scattered mandates from funders (e.g., Wellcome) • No emergent model • Still in experimental stage; no conspicuous successes • First-copy cost is high (long- form publishing)
  8. 8. Where Do Authors Come From? • AAUP does not have these statistics • Anecdotal reports: 7-10% of authors come from parent institutions; some estimate 15- 20% • UPs, in other words, mostly publish other institutions’ faculty • This can undermine support at the parent institution
  9. 9. How Does the Faculty View its Hometown Press? • Obviously, hard to generalize, but most presses have strong support from certain departments • But faculty may publish elsewhere • And faculty may recommend that junior faculty publish elsewhere • The “taint of an inside job” • This tends to undermine financial support
  10. 10. The Community System • Faculty in some areas support presses • But faculty mostly publish elsewhere • Thus faculty depend on other institutions’ presses for publication and certification • Other presses reciprocate—where they exist and have sufficiently large and appropriate programs
  11. 11. What Would an Exceptional Publisher Do? • Assess the marketplace; develop program accordingly • Focus on fields with strong markets • But what about the weaker fields? Who supports them? • Thus some U. presses have to pick up slack
  12. 12. The Free-rider Problem • Universities depend on the community of presses for their faculty to get published • Universities therefore may not support their own presses sufficiently
  13. 13. The Structural Problem • Mission-based publishing requires support of unprofitable fields • Certification is linked to publication • Smart publishers (NFP and commercial alike) avoid these fields • Reliance on other institutions reduces support for the home institution • And we have a vicious circle
  14. 14. As for the Individual Press . . . • Individual presses can strive to be better publishers . . . at the expense of other U. presses • An individual press cannot solve the community problem of certification • But they could (easily) solve the problem of dissemination with low-cost models similar to library publishing
  15. 15. So which is the more important problem, dissemination or certification? And when you answer that, which is the better model, U. press publishing or library publishing?
  16. 16. Contact Information • Joseph J. Esposito • espositoj@gmail.com • @josephjesposito • +Joseph Esposito