New Business Models for University Presses


1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 1. While the rich diversity of experiments with new business models is all to the good and should be encouraged, to prevent wasteful duplication of effort and to ensure that significant developments are not lost in the clutter, we need to learn from them in a more systematic way. Several actions that AAUP and partner organizations should consider include:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 a. Sponsoring regular workshops, perhaps web-based, for participants in these experiments to report on and evaluate progress. These might be organized around similar kinds of projects—e.g., backlist OA, editorial collaboration—to permit in-depth analysis.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 3 b. There should be a central conduit for sharing information about these projects. This could require an individual at AAUP designated to track the projects, maintain a sub-site or Wiki on the AAUP website, issue reports, and generally serve as liaison between the projects and the scholarly community at large.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 2 c. When projects fail, the knowledge to be gained from the failure is too often lost. We can learn as much from failure as success, and need to understand those projects that didn’t work, and why. This may require independent analysis by external consultants, funding for which would need to be sponsored.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 2. A significant number of the experimental projects now underway involve collaborations of various kinds: among groups of presses, between presses and libraries, between presses and research centers. These existing partnerships should be supported and the development of new ones encouraged; they mirror the new kinds of collaborative scholarship enabled by the web, and offer important new ways of thinking about scholarly publishing as well as new models for the delivery of scholarly material.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 a. Editorial collaborations, like the Archeology of the Americas Digital Monograph Initiative and Ethnomusicology Multimedia, have permitted the pooling of expertise and development of features beyond the capacity of any of the individual participants. More such collaborations should be encouraged.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 b. Effective distribution of scholarship through a variety of digital channels and devices will require specialized expertise and significant financial investment not typically available to nonprofit publishers. Collaborations among publishers, libraries, and nonprofit entities offer a solution to the problems of scale.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 c. Similarly, digital distribution of scholarship will require agreed-on standards and protocols. The development of such standards can only be done by presses, libraries, and scholars working together with recognized international standards-setting bodies.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 3. While the dominant form of scholarly book publishing in the future will clearly be digital, as a practical matter university presses today still get at least 90 to 95 percent of their sales revenue from printed books, even as the market for scholarly monographs continues to shrink. University presses also operate in an institutional environment that regards publishing on a break-even basis (including subsidy) as virtuous, even if that means losing ground to inflation. The combination of these factors means that it is virtually impossible for university presses to generate surplus investment capital from current operations. The role of agencies outside the presses in providing funds to work toward the digital future has been, and will continue to be, crucial.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 a. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Program in Scholarly Communications has a long history of enabling innovative projects at university presses, including a number of those discussed in this report. The importance of their continuing support cannot be underestimated. We urge other large funders of scholarly projects to join Mellon in thinking about how they can contribute to innovation in the area of scholarly communication, given the substantial needs for investment, research, and experimentation in this arena.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 b. Several university libraries have generously funded backlist digitization projects for the presses at their universities. These projects are important to the scholarly community as a whole as they permit the rediscovery of work that could not be kept available in print, but digitizing the backlist is beyond the resources of many small and medium- sized university presses. We strongly encourage the development of other backlist digitization collaborative efforts, and applaud those that have taken place.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 c. University administrations have in the past provided presses with occasional investment capital for experimentation or expansion and bridge-funding for transitions. In the current time of rapid change such funding is needed all the more, and on a more thoroughgoing basis.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 6 4. Open access publication is strongly supported by many universities and many scholars as a matter of principle and as an often-recommended solution to the high cost of journals publishing. More recently, OA has been proposed as a new model for publishing specialized book-length works that have little market value. The trend toward more open access publishing is clear; but it will not succeed unless sustainable business models can be developed to support it. Nonprofit publishers, especially university presses, should become fully engaged in this discussion with the support of their parent institutions.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 5. Proposals and plans for new business models should explicitly address two issues: the potential impact of the new model on existing parts of the press’s program and the requirements, both operational and financial, for making the transition to the new model. Ideally the consideration of these issues would involve the relevant author community as well as the press, its partners such as libraries or societies, and the funding agency.

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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/sustaining/recommendations/