How have Independent Publishers responded to COVID-19 in last six months?

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A Q&A with production management specialist and IPG Conference Exhibitor Deanta.

1. HOW WELL DO YOU THINK INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING HAS RESPONDED TO ALL THE CHALLENGES OF THE LAST SIX MONTHS? 

The challenges faced by COVID-19 have partly accelerated existing budget initiatives, such as reacting to diminished sales to libraries. Universities that already budgeted for cost savings are now using the crisis to push savings through faster than anticipated, which meant independent publishers had to react event faster than anticipated, which meant independent publishers had to react faster to change business models, i.e. by planning the transition to (some form of) Open Access. Other initiatives included the move or move off-shoring and enhanced technology/automation. Some publishers also consider relocating their business to lower cost areas, and/or reducing overall floor space. 

Other changes, such as declined business leading to furloughs and layoffs, may have hit not just the independent publishers, but are symptomatic for smaller businesses. Some independent publishers, especially those within the medical fields, but also within STM, saw an increased output of content, also depending on geographical areas. See also a list of changes in Publishers Weekly 

2. THE THEME OF THE AUTUMN CONFERENCE IS GLOBAL GROWTH. CAN YOU SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR PUBLISHERS SEEKING TO GROW SALES INTERNATIONALLY?

There are initiatives that exist independently of COVID-19, such as increasing e-commerce, enhancing access and website user interface, investing in technology, building communities/enhancing social media activities, as well as new business models such as dissecting products, monetizing i.e. parts of a book or video. Or focusing on specialist areas within the product range. Covid pushed newly emerging publishing models, such as 'early view' or preprints, for certain products and to attract readers. 

For independent publishers, and those in emerging countries, they also need to respond to the 'read-and-publish' model, which has its own challenges, as countries, if you agree with an article on the LSF website

Further changes, such as increased investment in eBooks, creating virtual and global communities, less dependence on conventional book distribution into the retail trade, help smaller and independent publishers to grow revenue. Tapping into the growth of author publishers, there is a chance for independent publishers to nurture this community and encourage authors to publish with them. 

3. HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS IN THE MONTHS AHEAD? 

The turmoil of that last 6 months has forced independent publishers to reconsider their priorities in a quickly evolving landscape. With the growing need to focus on digital channels and workflows, there lies an opportunity to look closely at the important of hyper-connectivity and firmer integration of all systems and platforms.   

While encouraging publishers to embrace the digital opportunities, we can also support independent publishers navigate their new journeys ahead. Firstly, by reviewing their end-to-end process together and then secondly by offering practical and affordable integrated solutions that embrace the latest advances in AI, NLP and cloud production services.