The State of the Industry
Publishers may eventually have to create their own sales forces and distribute their own books, which translates into a significant increase in costs.
What is the biggest issue currently facing medical book publishers?
In addition to the consolidation, there are extreme challenges from the federal government—the NIH (National Institute of Health) and its proposal for 'Open Access.'
What is your position on the NIH proposal?
The position of the American Medical Publishers Association is that we are against [it]. We understand what they're trying to do, but the way they're going about it and the lack of careful analysis in the preparation of their proposal leaves a lot to be desired. They propose a giant elephant, when a much smaller donkey solution would be far more satisfactory.
The crucial issue [for the NIH] is keeping track of NIH-funded research.
We're in favor of NIH-funded medical research—that's where most of the new books and journal articles come from. But the NIH wants to … be the official purveyors of access to this information. So if it's an NIH-funded project, you or I, or anyone should be able to access it for free. …
While that motive may be well-intentioned, it's not a good source of medical information. Just as with drug research, drug companies don't publish raw research data; they put it into a meaningful format, edit it, review it and spend a lot of money to do so. Plus, this research needs to be peer-reviewed and evaluated by experts in the field. Publishers are the ones that provide these services, and until it goes through that vetting system, it's not given credence to be published. All this costs money—money that is supplied by the medical publisher.
How do you see the Open Access proposal affecting the industry