Guest Column: The Key to Print-to-Digital Conversion: Simplicity
The publishing industry is in the midst of what will be a long and challenging transformation. As digital content, in all of its forms, has become the new medium, publishers are grappling with new business models, a multitude of content formats and devices, new delivery platforms and rising customer expectations.
While this transformation is far from complete, some standards and best practices have begun to take shape. We may at least be, as Churchill's famous phrase goes, at the "end of the beginning." Over the last decade, Springer Science+Business Media has made the transition to a blended strategy that fully embraces both print and digital content delivery. Here are some lessons from Springer's experience.
Journals: 96% Online by 2009
Journals were early adopters in transitioning to digital, and since have become almost ubiquitously available in electronic formats. By 2009, there were about 25,400 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals, and more than 96 percent were available electronically.
When Springer began offering e-books, the decision was made to follow the journal model. Libraries and patrons had become accustomed to this model, and a chapter in a scientific, technical or medical (STM) book often is viewed much like a journal article. Also, search engines have fundamentally changed the way that research is conducted and made print books largely obsolete for this purpose. Researchers now expect to be able to quickly sift through vast quantities of information at their fingertips. Because of this, Springer e-books and e-journals are searchable on a common platform, providing access to much more high-relevance information than was previously available.
Where e-books are readily available, researchers are increasingly accepting and utilizing them. While Springer saw overall digital downloads increase 33 percent in 2008, e-book chapter downloads rose 70 percent and e-book usage more than doubled between 2007 and 2009.