Thursday, 22 February 2018

Highlights from the 2018 University Press Redux Conference: A Sponsor's Perspective

Virtusales was delighted to sponsor the 2018 University Press Redux Conference, which was held at The British Library and completely sold out with an atmosphere that reflected it. Filled with lively discussions on policy, open access, disruptive innovation and the opportunities it presents, the importance of publishers providing genuine added value, and even Brexit and Trump.

In the opening keynote, Timothy Wright, CEO at Edinburgh University Press, presented the challenges for 2018 as: monographs, new models in print and distribution, ebooks, content, the skills gaps, open access, institutional support and the financial challenges facing the industry.

Richard Fisher from Yale University Press said that discoverability remains the number one challenge for most university presses and explained how marketing for individual titles has diminished but is still vital. Michael Jubb of Jubb Consulting reiterated this, stating that 50% of university press sales are sold through global retail channels such as Amazon, making it essential for content to be easily discoverable amidst the proliferation in formats, business models and retailers.

As a software supplier operating globally, we were particularly interested in the parallel session on Global, which looked at university presses outside of Europe, UK and USA. Another compelling topic was Digital, which was covered in the plenary session with Allison Belan from Duke University Press and Charles Watkinson from University of Michigan Press, chaired by Nicole Mitchell from University of Washington Press. The session included stimulating debate on the pros and cons of buying vs building systems and platforms. Allison explained that it is of utmost importance for university presses to understand and own their own content, data and business rules, and Duke’s decision to buy in technology expertise and systems allows the press to focus on what they are good at - creating content.

Author engagement and support was another recurring theme throughout the conference with an emphasis put on the need for publishers to add genuine value throughout the supply chain and for authors, contributors and stakeholders to recognise the value added. This was at the heart of Tuesday’s parallel session on Production where delegates heard from Andy Redman from Oxford University Press, Neil Clarke from CPI UK, Bret Freeman from LifeVroom, and Wednesday’s session on Commissioning with Simon Bell from Emerald Group Publishing, Brian Halley from University of Massachusetts Press and Katherine Reeve from Bath Spa University.

On the policy front, the requirement for all long form works to be available as open access in order to be eligible for the 2027 REF was by far the most impacting point mentioned, with Steven Hill from HEFCE suggesting how it could be achieved using different models such as Freemium, author pays, and mission orientated new university presses.

Closing Keynote: Richard Charkin
Finally, Richard Charkin from Bloomsbury Publishing gave an engaging closing keynote on academic publishing. Technology was mentioned in virtually all presentations, in one form or another, and it seems clear that publishers need its support now more than ever. It is essential for platforms and systems to be flexible enough to manage metadata at content, article and chapter level, bring efficiencies to the production process and supply chain, and liberate publishers so that they can focus on creating, curating and enriching content to engage with their consumers.

At Virtusales we are committed to streamlining publishers’ workflows and bring efficiencies to their business processes with innovative software, exceptional service and a collaborative approach. Our recent white paper looks at the current landscape of academic and educational publishing, some of the disruptions that publishers are facing in today’s arena and ways in which they can capitalise on the changing environment.

Virtusales Publishing Solutions is the creator of the Biblio suite of publishing software and works closely with some of the world's leading academic, scholarly, professional and trade publishers including Harvard University Press, Bloomsbury Publishing, Manchester University Press, Pearson Education, Penguin Random House, Hachette and Macmillan Publishers.

Find out more about Virtusales and the Biblio suite or request our white paper, please visit our website:
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For further information on the University Press Redux conference and to access slides and audio from the event please visit: