Friday 30 October 2009

House Science and Technology Committee Roundtable

Attendees at the 2009 ALPSP International Conference heard Fred Dylla (American Institute of Physics) reference a Congressional Roundtable group that both he and the Chair of ALPSP North America, Crispin Taylor (American Society of Plant Biologists), have been involved with.

This Scholarly Publishing Roundtable was convened earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology under Congressman Gordon and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Roundtable group was formed to seek "consensus on feasible and effective ways to expand access to and preservation of federally funded research information". The recommendations arising from the Roundtable discussions are expected to be released in the next few weeks.

A status report on the work of the Roundtable group has just been published online along with the details of the members of the Roundtable and their biographies.

Sensible and progressive dialogue between fair-minded representatives of the various stakeholders is hugely welcomed by ALPSP and we eagerly await the recommendations of the group.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

ALPSP Seminar: Marketing to Libraries

During times when many publishers are waiting to hear how their renewals for 2010 are going, and feeling anxious about what the future holds despite weathering the financial storms of a difficult 2009, one of the key things to get right is how to market effectively to libraries.

Which is why you or one of your colleagues need to book a place at our one-day seminar about
Marketing to Libraries on the 20 November in London.

British Institute of Radiology, 36 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AT
Friday 20 November 2009

Chair: Bernie Folan, Head of Journals Marketing, SAGE Publications

A great line up of speakers:
Claire Duddy, HM Treasury

Jane Harvell
, Head of Research Services and Special Collections at University of Sussex

Phil Jamieson

Melinda Kenneway
TBI Communications Ltd

Nancy Buckley
and Helen Cooke
, Burgundy Information Systems Limited

Kathryn Spiller
Society for Endocrinology

Colin Meddings
Oxford University Press

Katie Sayers
SAGE Publications

Chris Clarke

Followed by a networking reception with wine and nibbles

Book your place online or contact me for further information

Dee French: info@alpsp.or or 01827 709188

Invitation to Participate in an ICSTI Technical Project

In association with its forthcoming Workshop on 'Interactive Publications and the Record of Science' (, the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) is undertaking a technical project to survey and analyse publishers' use of interactive technologies in scholarly publishing.

Prospective participants are invited to complete the online questionnaire hosted on the web site of the project leader or to write to Brian McMahon if they wish to become more closely involved.

Incidentally, ALPSP is an Associate Member of ICSTI and so all ALPSP members are able to attend the Workshop at ICSTI member rates.

Thursday 22 October 2009

OAPEN survey on 'Funding of Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences'

ALPSP members may be interested in taking part in a survey being conducted by the OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks - - project). The title of the
survey is “Funding of Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)”

Long link:

The aim of OAPEN is to develop and implement an Open Access publication model for peer reviewed academic books in HSS to improve the accessibility, impact and relevance of European research in these fields. To make sure that the model meets the needs of researchers, funders and publishers, they are keen to find out how books are currently funded and how this might be complemented by funding opportunities for the Open Access publishing of books.

They say about the survey:

Publishing monographs (including anthologies in HSS often relies on additional funding on the part of authors/editors as costs can not solely be met by revenues of sales. So far funders have mainly supported the print production and based their funding models on the traditional book market. The combination of a free (open access) electronic version (access, searchability, quick citability etc.) with a convenient pay print version offers new opportunities in visibility and dissemination.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Stefan Buddenbohm, Göttingen State and University Library, <>

posted by Nick Evans, ALPSP 22 October 2009

Saturday 17 October 2009

ALPSP Chair elect breaks leg

I'm not 100% sure if Toby Green fell while shouting from the treetops that he had been elected as the next Chair of ALPSP... or if in fact he fell out of a tree while constructing a tree house.

The fact is, fall he did and unfortunately Toby, who will take office as Chair in January 2010, managed to break his leg. He could therefore be seen hobbling around the Messe at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week on crutches.

Determined that some good will come from his misfortune, Toby took the opportunity to raise some money for Della Sar's terrific charity Friends of Della and Don. I'm sure you know, but Della is Global Marketing Director at Nature Publishing Group and the story of how and why the charity was set up is worth reading. The eagle-eyed will have noticed that Toby had a collecting tin gaffa-taped to his crutches and the response at the Fair was great...

...but it could be even better and it's not too late to give an online donation of any size to help support Della's charity.

Friday 16 October 2009

O’Reilly TOC Frankfurt fails to deliver

O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change (TOC) conference came to Frankfurt on 13 October 2009 – the first time the concept had been aired outside of the United States.

It is safe to say that TOC Frankfurt had been eagerly anticipated; I was certainly looking forward to it and if the bustle during registration was anything to go by then so were the majority of the roughly 200 (my guestimate) delegates who had paid the not insignificant Euro 499 +VAT registration fee to attend.

There were a couple of slightly annoying housekeeping issues. Registration was a bit chaotic due to poor signage, the breakout rooms were cramped and generally way too small and problems with the internet connection throughout the day must have been embarrassing to O’Reilly given their cutting-edge internet reputation. These could have easily been forgiven (it’s not easy to put on a conference like this, especially in an unfamiliar venue) had a program that promised “new insights” delivered.

It didn’t.

The opening two keynotes, Sara Lloyd (Pan Macmillan) and Neelan Chokski (Lexcycle), shared a slick delivery style but failed to impart any real insight. The third of the opening trio, Cory Doctorow, gave a passionate – if rather hurried – view of what needs to happen to sustain books into the future.

As we headed for coffee and the parallel sessions that were to follow, I was feeling a little underwhelmed.

Brian O’Leary (Magellan Media) improved my mood as he outlined research – albeit on a small scale – that seemed to suggest a correlation between peer-2-peer piracy and an increase in sales. He was careful in what he said and began and ended by suggesting that more work was needed from a bigger range of titles and publishers (he was just reporting on a subset of titles from the O’Reilly list). I was therefore disappointed, but not surprised, to read the several “Piracy boosts sales” headlines the following day…

Timo Hannay (Nature Publishing Group) gave a typically interesting presentation, though many in the scholarly / academic publishing industry will have heard much of the content before, but while the panel session on Alternative Digital Sales Channels was entertaining enough, it didn’t really work as a Q and A, failed to really address the topic in hand, and consequently stuttered. Simon Waldman (Guardian Media Group) did manage to give an overview of the innovative things that the Guardian are doing that was both interesting and entertaining. The elephant in the room during his talk was that the Guardian, like many newspapers, are struggling financially and have reduced the number of professional journalists working on the paper (in fact the Guardian is sustained by profits from Auto Trader). Opportunities to generate income from the innovations that Simon was talking about appear scarce, but in fairness that wasn’t his brief and nonetheless he reported some neat stuff.

I did enjoy the PECHA KUCHA session. Though some of the presenters struggled with the challenge of this, errr challenging, format they all managed to get through it unscathed. Well more or less. It was fast paced which meant that if you didn’t like a particular speaker then, like the weather in Melbourne, you didn’t have long to wait for a change.

Closing keynote speaker and O’Reilly founder Tim O’Reilly wasn’t able to make it to Frankfurt and this news was kept until the last possible moment which was understandable, I guess. After all, the organizers will have wanted to ensure that everybody stayed to the end. Unfortunately the attempt by Andrew Savikas (VP of Digital Initiatives at O’Reilly Media) to fill the void was a big disappointment. The title of the talk was ‘Reasons to be Excited’ but Savikas did little more than drone on about O’Reilly Media itself. Again I thought there was little of interest or insight and for me TOC Frankfurt ended as it began – with a damp squib.

Some have criticised TOC Frankfurt for its anti-DRM stance. The trouble was that throughout the whole day there was no real debate – about DRM or anything else – and that’s perhaps the biggest lesson that TOC needs to learn. It was also pretty one-dimensional: Publish your content DRM-free and via an iPhone app. Yawn.

So in summary I would not recommend O’Reilly Tools of Change to ALPSP members on the evidence of the first TOC Frankfurt event. Admittedly this is partly due to the high expectations that I had, and indeed the high cost of attending. But the bottom line is that I can spend my time and my organization’s money much more productively, and other familiar faces that I saw at TOC Frankfurt generally agreed.

The Frankfurt Book Fair has announced that an improved TOC conference will be back next year. I am sure it will, but I won’t be there to see it.

Ian Russell
#alpsp #tocfrankfurt #fbf09

Tuesday 13 October 2009

To DRM, or not to DRM

DRM - Digital Rights Management is a hot topic at the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference in Frankfurt (#tocfrankfurt), or at least TPM is (that's technical protection measures).*

Ronald Schild, CEO of MVB, made the point that it is a tough value proposition to charge for the TPM protected version, which by definition is not as easy to use, if you have an illegal, pirated version of a book that gives the user no TPM hassles.

Also, I hear that there is competition among pirates to be the first to post an illegal copy on a bit torrent site and huge kudos among their community goes to the first person to break the TPM. That seems like an incentive to pirate TPM protected content that just isn't there for something that has no TPM. Or is that DRM?


*It's interesting to me that DRM - which strictly speaking is about managing and communicating rights digitally is often used to mean TPM, which is about stopping users doing things with your content that you don't want them to do...

Friday 9 October 2009

ALPSP Survey of Librarians - report published

Against the backdrop of the global economic downturn that began in the second half of 2008, ALPSP undertook a survey of librarians in mid-2009 to inform a panel discussion at the 2009 ALPSP International Conference.

The report arising from that survey is now available and is free to ALPSP members.

Key findings are:
  • The average number of journals being made available by the libraries surveyed more than doubled between 2000 and 2009. However, librarians are predicting that they will provide access to around the same number of journals in 2010 as they did in 2009, with more journals purchased as part of 'big deals' and fewer as single subscriptions. This will be of concern to smaller publishers who are unable to offer their content as part of a 'big deal' and those that are launching new subscription journals.
  • A significant proportion of librarians responding to the survey state that they would prefer to purchase content from non-profit publishers, although the profit status of the publisher is not an important factor in any of the purchasing decisions surveyed.
  • There is a strong demand from library customers to move more journals to electronic only. Three of the four most important barriers are within the control of publishers who may wish to consider what more can be done regarding electronic only offerings, licensing terms and post cancellation access to facilitate this move.
  • Librarians generally understand and value the role that academic publishers play in the dissemination and communication of scholarship. However, there is room for a better understanding of the inflationary pressures on journal prices and better communication regarding this from the scholarly publishing industry generally.
  • Librarians look for the most advantageous cost / benefit ratio when making their purchasing decisions. Usage statistics, both overall use and cost per use, are very important tools used in determining whether to renew or cancel journal content. Publishers should therefore continue to make every effort to maximize the usage of their version of the article. Faculty continue to play a very important role in all purchasing decisions relating to single subscriptions and end user marketing will therefore remain a priority for journal publishers who primarily sell their content as single subscriptions.
  • Librarians responding to the survey are knowledgeable of open access publishing business models. However, more work needs to be done to minimise the burden of administrating open access publishing and to ensure that expenditure is predictable.