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ITHAKA The Next Wave 2017: John Sherer - A modest proposal for book publishing



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John Sherer, Director of the University of North Carolina Press, puts forward a proposal for publishing digital first monographs as another way to address the challenges facing academic book publishers. He also touches on other services emerging to help reduce costs and increase or sustain the numbers of books published through shared services.

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ITHAKA The Next Wave 2017: John Sherer - A modest proposal for book publishing

  1. 1. Founded in 1922— the oldest university press in the South and one of the oldest in the @jesherer
  2. 2. The Monograph Challenge from the University Press Perspective • While we offer excellent value (at UNC Press, less than 4% of our costs are subsidized), at the same time… • …sales trends are clear and troubling, and only going to get worse. Indirect funding through library purchases and course adoptions are in permanent, asymptotic decline. Good value will not be enough. • Our economic models are based on obsolete assumptions about information scarcity and monetizing formats. • But technology is giving us tools to be better publishers than ever.
  3. 3. The Two Main Functions of Publishers Content Teams Acquisitions Editors Marketing Publicity Production & Dissemination Teams Production Distribution Sales Accounting
  4. 4. Building Scale in University Press Publishing Editorial, Design,and Production (EDP) • Streamlined workflow • Standard Monograph Program Strategic Partnerships • Centralized negotiation for favorable pricing • Alwaysprospecting potential new offerings Fulfillment • Top quality, full-service book distribution and back-office functionalitybuilt exclusivelyfor universitypresses Best Practices • User-group meetings • Monthlywebinars • Basecamp resources Sales • Nationwide field representation • National Account Management Marketing Services • Website design and development • Online marketing tools • Edelweiss • Nielsen Bookscan • Catalog services Printing • Offset • Short run digital • Print on demand Exhibits • Trade shows • Academicconferences • Sub-rightsshows UNIVERSITY OFMISSOURI PRESS For more information,please visit or email ClayFarr at Created by university pressesfor university presses,Longleaf isa non-profit businessdedicated to providing outstanding and ef ficient publishing solutions. Longleaf useseconomiesof scale and skill to offer pressessignificant benefitsand savings that they would not be able to realize on their own.We also provide a meansof sharing and leveraging the vast experience of the individual institutionsacr oss the entire group. LONGLEAFPROUDLYSERVESTHEFOLLOWINGPRESSES
  5. 5. What Would a Model That Embraces Digital Dissemination Look Like? • Most of our costs are not in manufacturing formats, but in creation of content—acquiring, credentialing, editing, and positioning. • If we can better define where we uniquely add value, we can make the case for funding support for that activity—especially if we dramatically improve access. This is Publishing as a Service. • Discoverability is happening digitally, while deep engagement is happening in print, so we need a hybrid model—digital first, followed by paid print.
  6. 6. Digital First Monographs • Digital workflow allowing more efficient (faster) and broader dissemination, easier re-use • Reduce investments in analog discoverability (cover designs, print inventory, display marketing) • Increase investments in digital discoverability (chapter-level abstracts, key-words, linked data, social web integration) • New pricing model with free, highly-SEO digital formats coupled with pay-walled physical editions
  7. 7. The OA Future? A 3-Stage Model for Monographs STAGE1 Acquire Peer review Copyedit ”Credential” ”Dirty” POD STAGE2 Publish on open web for 18-24 months Submit for reviews & awards Meter usage STAGE3 Publish into consumer marketplace Create print/ePub Traditional marketing Required OptionalRequired External funding Limited costs Publisher funding
  8. 8. Benefits of the OA Model  Offers fuller and faster access to scholarship  Significantly reduces market-based considerations from publishing decisions  Allows presses to focus marketing resources on titles that will generate $$ return  Permits open review of texts  Seamless interaction with web-based archives or digital humanities output  Successful Stage 3 publishers will help drive down costs of Stage 1 and 2 fees
  9. 9. Challenges of the OA Model  Cultural obstacles with promotion & tenure  Funding sources needed for Stage 1 and 2 activities  Potential moral hazards of “supply-sided” funding  How to assess impact in order to move from Stage 2 Stage 3?  Lower quality physical formats in Stage 1  Migrating presses from their current economic models that monetize formats instead of content curation
  10. 10. Thank you Twitter: @jesherer