Springer Goes Digital, Makes More Than 10,000 Book Titles Available Online
Embracing the promise of a bright digital future, the world’s second largest publisher of science, technology and medical titles recently introduced a new program allowing for unlimited electronic access to thousands of its titles.
In June, Springer Science+Business Media announced the launch of its eBook Collection program -- an online collection of more than 10,000 -- during the American Library Association convention in New Orleans.
According to Ray Colon, the global manager of Springer’s eBooks, the daunting task to digitize every title Springer publishes each year, as well as a substantial back catalog of thousands of titles, began in January 2005.
“The position was taken at the production side to digitize every title that is in print,” he told Book Business Extra!. “That was the genesis of the project.. The idea [for the eBook program] grew once we realized we had such a large collection.”
Colon said the journal environment, where everything is currently available electronically, helped create the blueprint for extending the digital availability of Springer’scontent.
“It’s the logical next step,” he said. “Journals are freely available. It’s nothing new. For an end-user, they just want to access the stuff, use it and walk away. Having said that, it’s in our best interest to create consistency. So if they’re able to use the journals that way, why can’t they use the books that way. We’re hoping by doing this we’ll set a trend for others to follow.”
The company also changed the book workflow to imitate the digital workflow used in journal production, he said.
“It was a culture change, and a change at the desktop really to add an additional step,” Colon said. “As small as it is, it is an enormous change when you’re changing an entire mentality of how things are done.”
About 3,000 new Springer eBooks are expected to be published by Springer each year.
The Revenue Model
Libraries are currently pegged to be the main user for the eBook technology. The company currently has more than 25 clients who have bought access.
“Hopefully, we’ll have 150 customers by the year’s end,” he said. “It’s selling.”
By mid-August, Springer’s plans call for the retirement of the beta version. According to Colon, it will be replaced with a more complete release.
“We’ll have the basic functionality, and all the bugs in the existing beta ironed out,” he said. “After that, there will be future releases of functionality. It will never end.”
Nothing, however, will change in the immediate future on the print side for Springer, Colon said.
“We’re still keeping our print run,” he said. “Hopefully, what this will lead to is an increase in print. We see this as another form of dissemination. It’s exciting, I’d say that.”