2015 Sets Up As Year of Change in Professional Publishing, Information Markets

FEBRUARY 11, 2015

STAMFORD, Conn., Feb. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Professional publishers and information providers will continue to grapple with critical strategy decisions brought on by disruptive forces in what is expected to be a year of great change industry wide.

"The challenges industry leaders face pop up in rapid succession as if they were created in an assembly line," said Dan Strempel, senior analyst, business professional group at Simba Information which published the report, Open Access Journal Publishing 2014-2017. "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 indentified a few key trends and events that bear watching in 2015.

Mr. Publisher, Tear Down that Wall

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.

Open Law Movement

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.

The challenge in create such a online law library lies in cooperation from individual jurisdictions that are resistant to change, and the arduous task of scanning records contained in books.

Simba expects the movement to continue to gain momentum, especially as research costs continue to mount for firms of all sizes.

U.S. Biomed R&D Wanes While Asian Countries Grow

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine highlights another important trend — biomedical research spending by China and Japan has increased dramatically during the past five years, while U.S. investment has declined.

U.S. spending on biomedical research is now less than one-half of total spending worldwide. The U.S. funded 51% of the world's biomedical research as recently as 2007, but by 2012 its share fell to 45%. The decline in U.S. spending on research was primarily due to reduced investment by private industry, although government institutions such as the National Institutes of Health also have reduced resources.

Medical researchers and economists who prepared the study said Asia's share of spending increased by one-third over that same period, from 18% to 24%. Europe's investment in medical research held steady at 29%. The shift toward Asia for biomedical research, including clinical trials of new drugs, is influenced by labor costs and less regulation by governments.

LinkedIn Straddles Fence Separating Publisher From Platform

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, LinkedIn 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," said Strempel.

We welcome your views. To submit a letter to the editor, send us an email to press@simbainformation.com.