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How are publishers responding to the digitisation of the sector?

Jane CharltonBy Jane Charlton
Category - Blog

Tuesday 8th October 2019

We catch up with Duncan Campbell, Wiley’s senior director of global sales partnerships 

Wiley is an international publisher developing digital education, assessment and certification solutions to support universities, businesses and individuals in academia. The organisation has a 200-year heritage of quality publishing, connecting researchers and learners with its online journals, books and other digital content. 

Duncan Campbell, Wiley’s senior director of global sales partnerships, participated in the panel debate at the OpenAthens 2019 Conference in March.  

The discussion, Piracy as a disruptor for changeexamined the extent to which piracy had been a force for positive innovations such as Netflix and Spotify. The panel also looked at how it’s often the result of poor user experience channelling consumers toward easier-to-access illegitimate content. 

The participants acknowledged the difficulty of balancing a business model by which content providers must be paid against users’ desire and ability to access free online content. 

We caught up with Duncan following the panel session to delve a little deeper into the subject. He suggested that piracy wasn’t necessarily a driver for change. Several of the innovations mentioned in the debate would have occurred naturally as the industry evolves. 

Industry innovations driving change 

The digitisation of the sector is bringing an end to the intermediation that was previously typical of publishing. Publishers are now more commonly selling to libraries online – rather than to distributors or bookshops – with end-users accessing the product directly. So, they have had to get closer to and understand their users in order to build products that they want to use. 

Sci-Hub is outside the publishing economy as it’s a conduit leaking content. Its driven by an open access agenda and so not part of the industry in terms of ensuring that best practice is followed and that content is trustworthy. In comparison, Duncan mentioned Wiley’s protocols when it comes to corrections or retracting an article in occurrences of scientific fraud or misconduct.  

We also discussed how piracy sometimes seems to be less of an issue for the end-user, mainly owing to a lack of awareness. Their priority is finding the information they need without getting bogged down with where it’s coming from, how it’s reaching them and at what price. The question is therefore how can the industry best educate end-users on accessing content from trustworthy sources? 

The futurelibrary and publisher partnerships 

Duncan said that as publishing moves further towards open access and offering more bespoke and transitional deals, publishers are making aeffort to build relationships with libraries. For those deals to be successful, the industry has to work more closely together. 

The industry experts expect the long-term benefits of those partnerships to be considerable with one of the end goals being more published output as open access. However, Duncan explained that there are still challenges and a lot of work for the publishing industry to do to build those relationships with libraries. 

It will be interesting to see how our library and publisher customers will start working together and building partnerships in the future. The end-user and their easy and secure access to valuable digital content must be a priority. 

The forging of new collaborations between libraries and publishers is a major theme of our Access Lab 2020 conferenceTo find out more, click here. 

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