STM Publishers Embrace E-media’s Phase II
O’Reilly agrees that STM publishers must embrace open access in order to better circulate their content.
“There’s way too much focus on DRM [digital rights management] and protecting content,” he says. “In today’s era of information abundance, finding and promoting content is far more important than protecting it from unauthorized use.”
In the next five years in the STM segment, Haank believes, “the changes and new developments will continue to be
in electronic publishing. Unlike journal publishing, where
the electronic journal is increasingly replacing the print
journal, we believe that e-books will not replace printed books, but will rather have a positive effect on the sale of backlist titles.”
O’Reilly forecasts a more drastic change for some STM publishers. He expects to see something of a shakeout
among mid-size STM publishers due to consolidation in retail channels.
“Very small and very focused publishers who can survive on direct sales or sales through online resellers like Amazon will have a significant advantage over those who’ve depended on retail distribution,” he says. “There was a period in which retailers were embracing books that were more professional, but as the Internet becomes an increasingly useful part of the professional information landscape, retailers are backing away.”
According to Peters, the open access movement may ultimately benefit smaller STM publishers.
“The need for a new business model is particularly strong within the scholarly publishing industry, since smaller publishers have found it increasingly difficult to compete within the subscription model,” he says.
Then there is the controversial Google Book Search platform, which O’Reilly and Haank believe has real potential to expand the market, especially if Google launches programs for paid access to online books.
“At first we were a bit concerned about putting excerpts of our books on Google Book Search,” Haank says. “We thought people might ‘read and run,’ but quite the contrary happened. Google has proven to be a powerful marketing tool.”