The state of publishing one year on

On 30 July, Monographer’s Blog passed its first anniversary. The second and third posts on this blog outlined respectively the downside and upside of the publishing industry.

I had planned to review the way that the industry has changed since those posts a year ago. Having re-read them, however, I see that such a review is unnecessary. Rather, it is a case of ‘plus ca change’.

A year ago (1 August) I wrote that the retail chains were under pressure. I gave as an example the fate of Borders UK. Were I writing that post afresh today the example I would cite is of course Borders in America. Beyond that, I would change barely a word. Nor would I wish to add anything.

What does this show? I propose two conclusions. First, static economic conditions in the UK and America – with the hoped-for recovery from recession largely failing to materialise – have been reflected in a largely static industry.

To that conclusion I should add a rider, which is there has recently been a certain amount of corporate acquisition activity in the UK academic publishing centre, perhaps suggesting that the acquirers have in the present climate come to see acquisition, as opposed to organic growth, as the most promising source of growth. Such acquisitions tend to come in clusters: one wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same

The second conclusion is that the industry has been shown to be reasonably robust. A year ago there were numerous prophecies of doom, especially in the American university press sector. They have proved wide of the mark.


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