Book Business Q&A: Indiana University Press’ Kathryn Caras talks about INscribe, the electronic publishing platform the press launched this year to increase the spread of its scholarly content.
Extra: How have things gone in the first three months?
Caras: One of the things we did when we launched was to offer free and open access to all of the content on the database. We had about 752,000 people who took us up on that offer. We have since turned some of those people into paid subscribers. We also, earlier, for two or three years, had one of our journals, called Victorian Studies, available to subscribers online for free. We have been successful changing most of those into paid subscribers.
We only earlier this month really started our aggressive marketing for INscribe. The uptake, where we are right now, I am satisfied with. I am hoping, by the end of this fiscal year, that we really start to see an influx of paid subscribers, both individuals and institutions.
Extra: What are you shooting for by the end of the year?
Caras: I haven’t set a number. I don’t like to do that because if we don’t reach it, everyone thinks we failed. I don’t manage from that position.
Extra: What challenges do you face that a large consumer publisher doesn’t have to worry about?
Caras: There are two of them—staffing and finances. We’re limited on both sides. University presses are struggling with sales. We’ve been struggling for a while. We make do with less money and less people for projects like this.
I think it will stimulate sales. Absolutely. I think one of the things we’ve learned online is that you have to give away stuff to make money. That’s the philosophy behind what I do. One of the greatest successes of INscribe is that we have partnered with the Global Fund for Women and the Association of African Universities to give their constituents free access to the database. I think that will eventually drive sales, and I think its a great thing to do to give scholars access to this content.