Springer wants a partner, not a buyer

The UKSG LiveSerials blog is covering the annual UKSG Conference (Torquay, March 30 – April 1, 2009).  Some highlights:

Kirsty Meddings on Ahmed Hindawi

Ahmed Hindawi opened the afternoon plenary session by talking about the "three big changes" that will affect scholarly publishing in the next ten years….

Scholarly journals publishing doesn’t have [the] problems [of other sectors]: unlike newspapers, the content of scholarly journals is highly differentiated, and you’re unlikely to just go and read a different article if the one you want is too expensive or behind access control. Scholarly journals are bought by organisations, so there’s still a "middle man" in the sale as compared to author to reader trade book sales. And piracy isn’t a big issue.

The three changes that Ahmed predicts will affect scholarly publishing:

  • Open access vs toll
  • The journal as a brand on author side
  • The journal as a brand on the librarian side…

    Drivers for open access

  • Recognition of merits of OA by researchers
  • Serials crisis = difficult to expand toll publications
  • Green open access – publishers will realise gold is more secure and more financially viable….

    So, five possible futures for scholarly publishing….

  • Possible Future 4: Open Access

  • Journals still have a strong brand with authors, but libraries don’t need to purchase journals. High impact journals will be able to demand higher author publishing charges. Will be more competition between journals and publishers.

    Possible Future 5: Commoditization 2.0

    Open access and lost journal brand on author side. All journals are like PLoS ONE journals, publishing all rigorous artlcles. A&I databases will be only place to navigate content.

    What will materialize will be more complex than any one of these examples. Open Access is important, but isn’t the only issue. Commoditization can bring benefits. Scholarly journals have many stakeholders. It’s important to be as "humble and objective as possible" and consider all of the stakeholders. There will be winners and losers.

  • Ginny Hendricks on Derk Haank:

    …Haank’s view is that the major advancements in scholarly publishing have already taken place. For a revolution to occur people have to be very dissatisfied with the current situation and that is no longer the case since the shared publishing goals of 1998 have already been achieved. These were:

    1) improving access;

    2) seamless linking; and

    3) improving value for money.

    The CrossRef initiative has solved one of the biggest problems by providing pure linking to enable seamless access to everything, for everyone. The fear and excitement of the late nineties meant that publishers “invested heavily – too much in my view – in technology” and this resulted in having to charge much higher fees for publishers’ platforms, rendering content inaccessible to some users.

    The technology will not be important in the next decade….“The techies are back in the cellar where they belong”….[W]e’ve already achieved a lot and it will not be possible to invest much further anyway.

    We’ve talked about Open Access for ten years but only 3% of articles are published in the OA model – hardly a revolution. But of course OA will not disappear (noting his recent investment in BioMed Central!) but will build slowly alongside and in parallel to traditional publishing business models as an evolution, not a revolution.

    More content is produced each year than the previous year but library budgets do not increase so we just need to get much more efficient every year instead of looking for the next big development….

    PS – Haank was asked about the "elephant in the room" and said that Springer is not up for sale but looking for a third additional partner not replacing current shareholders.

    PS:  See our past post on last week’s rumors that Springer was for sale.