Market Focus: University Presses Press on Through Recession
Holzman counts among POD’s benefits: cheaper unit costs and savings in staff time, as well as the ability to make all books available all the time. “[It] allows us to fill orders without having to monitor stock on a constant basis,” he says. “Honestly, I see no downside to this.”
New York University Press is continuing to move backlist titles into a POD model. “It has reduced our printing and book-storage costs, and has also reduced our risk of inventory markdown and our margins,” Maikowski explains.
While the benefits of POD are clear, many university presses are still grappling with whether to digitize their titles, and if so, which to convert and which format to use.
For many publishers, sales of digital books are increasing, but from a very small base, which means they’re not generating significant revenue. Digital sales also are not expected to be big business in the immediate future.
“One of the big challenges is the whole question of how to make the best use of digital technologies,” says Peter Givler, executive director of AAUP. “Journalistic publishing has adapted well to electronic publishing, and it has helped sell subscriptions. But you don’t sell books by subscription, and no one’s got the magic bullet to know how to make this work.”
“It’s plain to see [that] the book publishing industry will evolve,” says Corey Podolsky, vice president of technology for Oxford University Press. “People are not going to stop buying books, but I’m preparing for a world where the way people read changes. It’s about staying ahead of the curve. It’s hard for me to think [digital book technologies] won’t catch on.”
The area where digital content is really growing in is journals, adds Podolsky. The challenge, he said, is the expense, and knowing how far into your backlist to go.