New Business Models for University Presses

Executive Summary

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Within the scholarly communications ecosystem, scholarly publishers are a keystone species. University presses—as well as academic societies, research institutions, and other scholarly publishers—strive to fulfill our mission of “making public the fruits of scholarly research” as effectively as possible within that ecosystem. While that mission has remained constant, in recent years the landscape in which we carry out this mission has altered dramatically. From new technologies to new economic conditions to changing relations with stakeholders, the world of scholarly communication in 2011 looks very different than it did a generation ago.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 13 The technological and cultural shifts of the last decade—the transformation from a print-based system of content scarcity and centralization to a digital, decentralized system of content abundance, easy access to expertise, attention as the coin of the realm, handheld connections, and distraction as a big business—challenge not just publishers’ business models, but may even threaten many of the intellectual characteristics most valued by the scholarly enterprise itself: concentration, analysis, and deep expertise.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 In the developing environment of information hyperabundance, scholarship itself may struggle to be heard. For many information consumers, scholarly publications are increasingly distant. Monographs remain largely static objects, isolated from the interconnections of social computing, instead of being vibrant hubs for discussion and engagement. For both scholarship and for university presses, this is undesirable, but is also an inevitable consequence of the business model (of self-funding through product sales) that many parent institutions currently expect from their presses.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 2 University presses are enthusiastic to engage with and publish many of the worthwhile but experimental projects that inventive scholars are creating. The editorial, presentational, promotional, and business inventiveness demonstrated in the publishing projects described within this report makes it clear that university presses are wellsprings of expertise ready to engage with the future of scholarship. The expertise residing within university presses can help the scholarly enterprise prosper in both influence and impact as it moves ever more fully digital.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 However, the simple product-sales models of the twentieth century, devised when information was scarce and expensive, are clearly inappropriate for the twenty-first-century scholarly ecosystem. As the report details, new forms of openness, fees, subscriptions, products, and services are being combined to try to build sustainable business models to fund innovative digital scholarly publishing in diverse arenas.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 This report’s conclusions about sustainable business models for scholarly publishing are, of course, painted with a broad brush. The cultural changes we will see over the next decade no one can accurately predict, and we will be in transition for decades to come.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 This report a) identifies elements of the current scholarly publishing systems that are worth protecting and retaining throughout this and future periods of transition; b) explores business models of existing projects which hold promise; c) outlines the characteristics of effective business models; d) addresses the challenges of the transitional period we are entering; and e) arrives at recommendations that might allow us to sustain high-quality scholarship at a time when the fundamental expectations of publishing are changing.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Among the report’s recommendations are:

  • 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1
  • Active, structured, open sharing of lessons learned by participants in existing digital publishing projects should be an ongoing process.
  • Existing partnerships between presses, libraries, and other scholarly enterprises are vital models for collaboration to learn from and build upon.
  • The support of foundations, libraries, and university administrations in providing funds to work toward the digital future has been, and will remain, crucial.
  • Open access is a principle to be embraced if publishing costs can be supported by the larger scholarly enterprise. University presses, and nonprofit publishers generally, should become fully engaged in these discussions.
  • Proposals and plans for new business models should explicitly address the potential impact of the new model on other parts of the press’s programs, as well as explicitly address the requirements, both operational and financial, for making the transition to a new model.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 As a keystone species within the larger academic ecosystem, university presses can imagine themselves to be independent. This Task Force report makes clear, however, that during a time of dramatic transition, all members of the relevant scholarly communities—presses, authors, libraries, administrators, scholarly societies, and funding agencies—will need to be enlisted in open-ended and open-minded discussions, to ensure a robust scholarly communication ecosystem in the future.

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/sustaining/executive-summary/