University Presses and the Digital Universe
Kristine Aubrey, sales support/marketing for Des Moines, Iowa-based LBS, which manufactures and distributes bindery materials, says, “As the publishing world changes and run lengths continue to get shorter, a key challenge has been how to produce quality short-run books without breaking the bank. On-demand printing and binding technology has improved to the point that short runs are more commonplace and quality is as high as ever.”
Taking advantage of trends
While the challenges facing the university press segment are significant, the silver lining is that most of the challenges reflect changes in the market that have also created opportunity, says Maikowski, such as:
• “[online] social media networks creating huge demand for certain books;
• the emerging opportunities for all formats of Internet marketing and the [creation of online reader] communities;
• digital delivery of content, and new pricing models and experiments;
• short-run digital and POD printing capabilities;
• collaborating with libraries and other departments at [the press’s] parent institutions on new digital publishing projects; and
• an increased recognition among higher-education leaders of the need to better financially support scholars and scholarly publishing.”
As a result of taking advantage of some of these trends, NYU Press has achieved a 9-percent increase in Internet sales from 2005 to 2006.
“Remarkably, the increase came across several categories of books, not just one—trade, regional trade, college and academic books all experienced growth,” says Maikowski.
However, NYU Press’ largest channel of growth was online sales. In the past year, the company has made a focused effort to invest in technology to continue this growth.
“In the last 12 months [we have made] upgrades of all servers, desktop hardware and all software; upgrades and redesign/reconstruction of [the] press’s core database; redesign and back-end rebuild of [our] Web site; improvements in all press metadata and content that feeds online to [the] NYUP Web site and to outside vendors via regular ONIX deliveries; redesign and overhaul of [the] press’s e-newsletter; [and] upgrades of all e-mail lists,” Maikowski says.