STM Publishers Embrace E-media’s Phase II
Hamer agrees that STM publishers were at the forefront of embracing these new technologies, recognizing them as means to add value to information in a way that enables customers to “make better decisions faster.”
The expansion of materials available online has, in turn, led to a major shift away from printed reference books and toward tutorial or conceptual books as best-sellers and category leaders, according to Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based O’Reilly Media. “Pure reference books may sell a fraction of what they sold in their heyday,” he says.
However, he says that some of those reference books remain among the most popular in online reference services like the company’s Safari Books Online, a book subscription service for which customers pay a monthly fee to be able to search across a library of books.
“Revenue from Safari is up 1,200 percent for us in the past five years, while print revenue is down modestly,” he says, “although that is also influenced by a decline in the number of [print] titles we’ve published.”
“Revenue from print-only journals is falling,” agrees Dan Strempel, senior analyst at Simba Information—a media industry analysis and market intelligence firm based in Stamford, Conn.— “but it’s being replaced at a faster rate by print and electronic combinations, or just electronic subscriptions and site licenses.”
Strempel says e-only subscriptions are approaching 40 percent of all subscriptions, while e-revenues (from any revenue source with an electronic component) account for about 75 percent.
“We expect the rapid growth since 1999 to reach these levels of penetration [and] slow in the coming years, and with it, revenues,” he continues. “Consortia sales will continue to grow, but the pricing models will continue to evolve, more and more based on usage. …”
Next Up: Multisource
Having embraced electronic media faster than many other sectors of the publishing industry, Strempel says STM publishers are moving into a “second phase” concerned with “developing tools that help researchers and clinicians use the content found in STM books and journals.”