Publishing profits plummeting, survival of the fittest
With the news that McGraw Hill’s profits are down by nearly a quarter I began to look again at the future of publishing
Here are some stats
- McGraw Hill’s profits down by 23 percent
- Reed Elsevier first half profits down 48% announcing it would sell shares to raise money to cope with debt from its acquisition of ChoicePoint
- Wolters Kluwer first half profit falls 8%
- Oxford University Press laid off staff at the beginning of the year due to a reduction in state and library budgets.
- Penguin profits down by 19%
- Kindle sales: between 20-30% of the total Amazon sales on some books and publishers need to get content on the Kindle
To quote Joe Wikert ‘Any publisher that isn’t already worried about this in general is asleep at the wheel‘
I would suggest that publishers haven’t quite reached their threashold of pain yet to fundamentally change their business models and practices, but looking at McGraw Hill’s figures, and other publishing houses in similar positions, that point cant be far off.
The article by Michael Nielsen suggesting that Publishing Companies will become technical experts was very insightful and it seems that those who are going to survive will become just that – facilitators of information, but not necessarily the keepers of it.
Elsevier’s announcement of their ‘Article of the Future’ seems to be going in that direction, although it is not without some criticism, some saying it resembles websites of the past.
Michael Nielsen, Is scientific publishing about to be disrupted:
What’s all this got to do with scientific publishing? Today, scientific publishers are production companies, specializing in services like editorial, copyediting, and, in some cases, sales and marketing. My claim is that in ten to twenty years, scientific publishers will be technology companies. By this, I don’t just mean that they’ll be heavy users of technology, or employ a large IT staff. I mean they’ll be technology-driven companies in a similar way to, say, Google or Apple. That is, their foundation will be technological innovation, and most key decision-makers will be people with deep technological expertise. Those publishers that don’t become technology driven will die off.