The Corner Office: It's All in the Packaging
Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Press (DUP) is hoping to reverse the trend of declining hardcover-book sales to libraries by offering those libraries its full list—approximately 100 new scholarly titles per year and a backlist of over 900 titles—electronically on Ebrary (ebrary.com). By purchasing through Ebrary a subscription to DUP's list, called the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection, an unlimited number of simultaneous users at the subscribing library can access the content and utilize Ebrary's searching, navigating, archiving and other research tools.
While the official launch of the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection was announced in September, a pilot project was first introduced in January, with 19 library partners participating and providing feedback.
The leading force behind the project is DUP's director for the past 15 years, Steve Cohn. He spoke with Book Business about how this online-access model could help increase sales to libraries.
● What was the genesis of the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection?
Steve Cohn: Moving us toward electronic publication of our books—along with print publication, of course—[and] starting with creating a collection for libraries, was my own initiative. The e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection ... is something I have been thinking toward for a number of years, and talking about with other publishers and librarians... . I couldn't avoid seeing the rapid move toward preference for electronic delivery of journals, and with our own journals, we had experimented with several models and several online platforms ... before working out a set of arrangements that seems to work just right for us. ...
Our experience with developing and selling an electronic-journals package taught us that if we wanted to control the policies and prices under which our publications are sold as part of a package—and the library world is certainly moving toward the buying of packages rather than individual products one at a time—then we needed to have our own package, rather than go into large aggregations, where others set the policies and the prices. This journals experience also taught me to think of electronic sales to libraries as a separate matter from sales to individuals.