Archives for August 2013

Do you suffer from metathesiophobia?

Fear of change. This type of fear is mainly characterised by excessive sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, feeling sick, having a dry mouth and not being able to think and speak clearly.

As consultants we often work with people at times of change and there’s simply no sidestepping the fact that large organisations can find change a challenge. The idea that publishing is changing is one frequently mentioned on blogs and in the news, without reference to the fact that these large shifts; in business models, devices, reader behaviour and licensing, also involve change at an everyday level within the organisation. As publishing professionals, the jobs we are doing are also changing. However, if managed correctly change can be very empowering for the organisation. So what can organisations do to get it right?

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'But I Hate Tulips' The changing nature of the publisher-reader relationship

Sometimes the conversations we have with publishers are very different, sometimes they're eerily similar, even with publishers from very different sectors. And what publishers have been telling us recently is that their relationship with their readers is changing.

For publishers who focus on library sales the customer, the contact in the sales database, is generally an acquisitions librarian. However it's the subject librarian who will have recommended the purchase, probably after consulting with faculty members. And it is faculty members who read books and journals, and set reading lists for students.

Reading lists are all-important, because they drive usage of a title, and, where a library has moved to Patron Driven Acquisition, they can also drive actual purchases.

When it comes to cuts and cancellations librarians have increasing amounts information on which to base their judgement; including usage statistics and impact factors. But they don’t make decisions in a vacuum; they consult with subject librarians and faculty members on which titles are most crucial. And if there are no advocates at faculty level willing to advocate for a book or journal, that can leave it exposed.

Meanwhile in trade publishing the aggregation of titles into Amazon's enormous database is also causing issues of discoverability. For popular titles that are never out of print a good search engine delivers customers. But for new titles, even from high profile authors, the discoverability provided by the bookshop window and good point-of-sale support is all but gone. Indeed the fact that 'showrooming'; visiting physical shops to inform online purchases, is even a phrase demonstrates an increasing lack of visibility.

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