2015 will be a year of change in professional publishing, says Simba report

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rofessional publishers and information providers will continue to grapple with critical strategy decisions brought on by disruptive forces, according to a report by Simba Information.

'The challenges industry leaders face pop up in rapid succession as if they were created an assembly line,' said Dan Strempel, Simba Information’s senior analyst for business and professional publishing. 'How to harness the power of social media and big data, how to adapt to changes in advertising revenue streams, how to best deploy technology, how to adjust and introduce new business models, how to best meet user and reader expectations — it’s relentless, but falling behind can bring dire consequences.'
With this in mind, Simba Information has identified several key trends and events for 2015:

  • The open access movement will continue to play a key role in molding strategy for commercial publishers in STM. In December, Nature took the step of allowing those who subscribe to share an article in a format that allows it to be read online, but not to be printed or downloaded. The move was made in response to criticism that commercial publishers are limiting access to important research through the use of paywalls. The content-sharing policy, which applies to 48 Nature Publishing Group journals, marks an attempt to let scientists freely read and share articles while preserving the publisher’s primary source of income — the subscription fees libraries and individuals pay to gain access to articles. Other large commercial publishers will now have to decide if they too want to extend functionality to their subscribers, as the open access movement continues to bring pressure to free access to research articles;
  • The legal publishing industry is facing some of the same challenges the STM publishing industry is undergoing, as activists push for more free access to legal codes and case law. Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw and Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis are the most current and comprehensive databases in the industry, but subscriptions are expensive, particularly for small firms, non profits, libraries and law schools. Several projects are in the works to create open law depositories online. These include Court Listener, Public.Resource.org, State Decoded, Justia, and the Legal Information Institute. Some activists are calling for these efforts to be consolidated to create one open online law library that would contain all the primary law from every jurisdiction in the U.S., and allow for cross-jurisdictional searching by the public, as well as bulk downloads in malleable formats for developers; and
  • Finally, the professional publishing industry should keep an eye on LinkedIn’s move to open its publishing platform to more than 230 million people around the globe. In 2013, the professional network had extended this ability to users in the U.S. LinkedIn members have been publishing over 40,000 posts per week, on average, the company says. In August 2014, LinkedIn bought Bizo, business-audience marketing tool that allows marketers to target professionals through display and sponsored content. In 2013, Linked bought a newsreader called Pulse. The acquisitions dovetail with the publishing strategy, seeking to drive more traffic to the platform, but instead of creating and curating content, LinkedIn has turned to its users to create it.

'Of course, platforms are made to scale up and serve large audiences, but being a successful publisher requires having editorial judgment, gatekeeping and limiting content in order to build a brand identity. LinkedIn’s experiment will be worth watching to see how effective they are at making the two models work together,' added Strempel.