Scientific and technical publishing faces challenges, says research

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Scientific and technical publishing faces a daily struggle to develop new models and strategies while continuing to serve well-established channels in a difficult economic environment. This is one conclusion of new market research by Simba Information.

In a recent report, the analyst firm found that global sales in the scientific and technical publishing market increased just 0.2 per cent to $10.7 billion in 2012.

The report, Global Scientific and Technical Publishing 2013-2014, found that from 2010 to 2012, the market grew at a compound rate of 2.3 per cent. The report noted that, despite highlights in Asia-Pacific and some emerging markets, scientific and technical publishing has seen a slowdown. 'Journal growth has slowed with a difficult library environment while online services have matured. Even with strong growth from e-books, the book sector is in terminal decline,' said the company. 'The market is heavily dependent on library budgets which have been tight especially since the Great Recession. Academic institutions and government departments have faced budget pressures, which have made subscription renewals difficult in most parts of the world.'

According to the company, the patterns have been clear for several years, but accelerated in 2012, particularly the decline in book sales. Simba estimates that scientific and technical book sales fell 4.2 per cent to $2.7 billion in 2012.

Online services continue to be the fastest growing activity in scientific and technical publishing — up an estimated 3.9 per cent in 2012, also this growth is not as high as in the early days of online services.

Simba Information also notes that, as the market evolves, publishers are focussing more on dynamic content. New types of experience, it said, will be interactive, responsive and analytical, based on the content being delivered.