Cover Story: Embracing a Different Publishing World
Perspectives on the shifting publishing marketplace, and threats and opportunities surfacing as a result, seem almost to have divided the industry. Some see print as holding fast as the primary bread-and-butter for publishers, with e-books and other digital products growing, but remaining as incremental revenue. Others see the current growth in e-book and new digital reading devices, and a younger generation of digital-bred readers pointing toward a future where "e" will be the primary revenue driver in most publishing businesses.
Book Business interviewed the heads of several publishing companies in various market segments—Niko Pfund of Oxford University Press, Zondervan's Moe Girkins and Cengage's Ron Mobed—to gain their insights on an evolving publishing world. The good news: The shifts in the market seem to be borderline irrelevant. Of course, they require shifts in business strategies and models, and product offerings—no small feat; but the publisher's primary goal remains the same as it always has been—serving content that customers need and want.
Insights from … Niko Pfund
Vice President and Publisher, Oxford University Press, New York. OUP.com
Oxford University Press Inc. (OUP USA) is a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with Oxford University Press in Oxford, England, the world's oldest and largest continuously operating university press. Together, OUP's companies publish more than 6,000 new titles worldwide, annually, and OUP USA produces about 250 scholarly research monographs, as well as trade books, textbooks and professional titles.
Noelle Skodzinski: Has the internal structure or culture of OUP changed to adapt to a shifting marketplace?
Niko Pfund: Yes, dramatically. Approximately three years ago, we underwent a press-wide reorganization, during which we reconfigured the press from a vertical structure—[where] each publishing unit had a separate editorial, design and production unit, a separate marketing department, etc.—to a horizontal one, whereby these functions became press-wide. This was intended to acknowledge the changes in the marketplace where "type" of book or online content matters less and less … and where we really needed to start focusing on new business models, online products and services, and licensing opportunities. We also wanted to rededicate ourselves to the [press's] core functions, which are to serve our academic constituencies, as a books publisher, journals publisher and publisher of online services. And I suspect we'll need to continue to shapeshift in the years ahead, as the needs and demographics of that audience continue to evolve.