22:3 (2007:09) 22nd Conference (2007): Preconference: Publishing 101

August 30, 2007 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Preconferences | Leave a comment

22nd CONFERENCE (2007)

Publishing 101 – The Basics of Academic Publishing
Zachary Rolnik, Now Publishers
Reported by Lisa C. Gomes

This half-day preconference comprised useful information for everyone involved in the serials industry.  Zachary Rolnik of Now Publishers has twenty-plus years experience in the serials publishing industry, which made him uniquely qualified to teach this session.  He discussed the history of serials publishing and continued with a review of the market and the factors affecting it.  Rolnik also included a review of the publishers from commercial through society and university presses.
Mr. Rolnik focused his discussion on the Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) market serials publishing, since that is his background.  Market analysts identified scientific publishing as the fastest growing media sub-sector driven by the “publish or perish” mentality.  However, there are three primary changes underway that affect this market, according to the analysts. First, there is a cyclical slowdown due to library budget cuts.  Second, the scales are tipped toward the larger publishers — the large companies already have the business, and ninety-five percent of the market is based on annual renewals. Finally, the majority of money is spent on the Web interface for e-journals, which again tips the market to the larger publishers, as they can spend more money on their online platforms.
Typically, it is difficult for publishers to generate revenue from new journals.  Therefore, large publishers have increased their focus on acquiring other, smaller publishers and enter into agreements with societies to license their content.  In the meantime, the small and medium publishers develop niche markets and are author-centric.
There is also a new group of publishers entering the market that focus on current trends in the industry such as: updatable content, open access, licensing versus copyright, community-focused and subject-focused, alternate sales options and so on.  This group of publishers is often responsible for the most innovation in this market.  Some examples of these newer publishers include Mr. Rolnik’s company Now Publishing, Berkeley Electronic Press, (BE Press), and the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
Mr. Rolnik also compared the differences between book and journal publishing.  Although book publishing is a one-time process, journal publishing requires long-term commitment.  The process of choosing a topic is quite different.  In book publishing, the topic is either commissioned or the author already has a book they would like to publish.  In contrast, the subject for journals requires market research to identify an underserved subject niche or subject fields.  This process can be time-consuming.   

The complicated structure for publishing a journal requires many different roles within the publishing companies.  Therefore, a good portion of this preconference was dedicated to a discussion of the organizational structure of a typical publisher.  The publishing or acquisitions department’s primary role is to identify topics, trends, authors, and editors.  Other areas that Mr. Rolnik reviewed included: manufacturing and production, who turn the articles into the publication; marketing and/or public relations, which could be responsible for the traditional marketing avenues, but may also include website development and getting the journal listed in different indices; sales; business development; fulfillment; customer service; accounting/finance; and technology.


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