STM Publishers Embrace E-media’s Phase II
When your stock-in-trade is information that drives innovation, people expect you to be on the leading edge. And so it is with the scientific, medical and technical (STM) publishing sector. While the STM market faces similar challenges to the rest of the publishing industry, its willingness to embrace electronic platforms and develop innovative revenue streams has positioned it well in the face of new competition brought about by the expansion of digital media.
“The biggest challenge has been mastered, and that is the transition from paper to electronic for STM content,” notes Derk Haank, CEO of Springer Science + Business Media, the world’s second-largest publisher of STM journals and the largest provider of STM books, with sales of more than
$1 billion in 2006. “Everything we do is Internet-driven, and we use or will use whatever our customers need.
“The STM sector is far ahead of other publishing sectors [in utilizing technology], and has been since the middle of the 1990s,” he says. “Our end-users were early adopters of electronic information, and we began providing libraries with e-journals in the mid-1990s.”
Haank believes Springer has paved the way for a wider acceptance of e-books and journals among STM publishers and other segments in publishing.
“Although we were not the first STM publisher to bring e-books to the market, we were the first publisher to do so on a meaningful scale and with a very progressive, customer-friendly business model,” he says. “In June 2006, when we launched the Springer eBook Collection, we had 10,000 books. Now, we have almost 20,000.”
Along with moving more written content online, many STM publishers have invested heavily in webcasting, blogging, e-newsletters, streaming video and podcasting.
“We are investing in all of the above for many diverse reasons,” says Tim Hamer, senior vice president of global marketing services at Thomson Scientific, which saw revenues grow 6 percent to $162 million in 2006. “Just to give a few examples, webinars and webcasts are good for helping customers and users to get the most out of their products, as well as building up networks that help information users to help themselves. Video and podcasts are good for marketing and promoting new products and services as well as disseminating white papers together with hosting industry discussion forums,” he says.