Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Journal Publishers Huddle Under the Wings of Blackwell

It's not the best of times for independent scholarly journal publishers, a fact that keeps them moving towards distributors with more marketing and distribution savvy. Blackwell has announced that it will begin 2006 with 39 new publishing partnerships and 59 journal titles added to its of more than 600 society publications. Not a bad short-term solution for journals challenged by open access publishing and lacking the marketing muscle to distinguish themselves via online search solutions. Notably quite a few of these titles include converts from other aggregation and marketing services that were not as focused on facilitating journals as independent publications. Blackwell offers a quality publishing solution for journals that provides cost-effective technology and marketing infrastructure that can help them to be more effective independent publishers. But in spite of its Synergy online search interface it's still a heavily print-oriented marketing solution.

As independent journals choose marketing partners it's important for them to recognize that these partnerships and alliances offer them the opportunity to become more educated about content marketing - and to use the strength that they gain from these partners to consider how they can become more effective electronic publishers. Making sure you can milk the most from the print model is certainly important in this era of transition for print publications, but bridging the gap between online and print means a lot more than just lowering your costs for print production and having a nice "walled garden" for the curious online patron. It's important for independent publishers to consider their options for improving online and print marketing through partnership very carefully for options that will carry them aggressively into online revenue streams as more of their audiences make the shift to online as a primary consumption channel. For many publishers the move to Blackwell will be a positive experience in the short run, but it's a move that won't eliminate to consider long-term marketing solutions carefully.
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