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5 Hopeful changes in the publishing industry in 2018

changeRecently we asked several TAA members the question, “What changes are you hoping to see within the publishing industry this year?” Five key changes were identified: improvements in self-publishing, technology-driven innovations, better peer-review processes, increases in open access publishing, and a new era of transparency in publisher-author communication.

Improvements in self-publishing

Jose Carmona, author of Globalizing the Curriculum with the Latino Literature of the United States, expresses hope for self-publishing to 1) “become more affordable”, and 2) “be accepted without question”.

Mary Ann Hoppa, an educator in computer science and cybersecurity at Norfolk State University, notes that “in many institutions, educators must invest countless hours of uncompensated effort in building and maintaining digital content for online and hybrid courses.” Although she sees advancements in self-publishing options as “avenues for educators to monetize their original digital content”, she also expresses worry about the “lack of quality control in the self-publishing variant”.

When editing services and additional quality control standards are implemented in self-publishing environments, the costs of publishing increase, however without the consistency of standards, it’s understandable why self-published titles are not immediately “accepted without question”.

Technology-driven innovations

Hoppa shares her excitement for a rise of interactive textbooks, especially in the technical disciplines. Stating that “students have always learned best when they have opportunities to actively engage in the process”, Hoppa notes that interactive textbooks readily immerse learners into the material. She highlights ways that this is accomplished “via multimedia – such as interactive graphics, demo videos of skills-in-action, and interviews with industry practitioners – and instant feedback activities like polls and quizzes, all accessible within the textbook itself.”

Ann Greenberger, developmental editor and owner of Greenline Editing, also expressed hope in technology-driven innovations, but cautions against a digital vs. print discussion. She cites a 2016 article where Macmillan CEO Ken Michaels stated, “Most teaching delivery today and student engagement involves a combination of reading, thinking, research, formative studying and analytical feedback that involves both print and digital tools/services.” Her hope is that “educational publishers continue to concentrate on digital platforms that help all students achieve academic success – to include a broad range of diverse cultures and abilities and to make the most of a higher level of learning and critical thinking.”

Michael Greer, co-author of The Little, Brown Handbook, 14th ed., expresses a similar viewpoint stating that “printed books are now one part of a digital media ecosystem, and mobile devices are at the heart of reader experience and engagement.” As a result, his hope is “to see the publishing industry design products that work better on mobile devices.”

Beyond the content and delivery method associated with digital textbooks, Hoppa also notes that technology can improve the publishing process, mentioning the collaborative authoring model, such as that used by Zybooks, as a way “to adapt and converge technology-driven innovations with quality control and market expectations.”

Advancements in technology within the publishing industry and innovative applications of new technology can serve to improve the efficiency of production processes and the effectiveness of the content produced.

Better peer-review processes

Dominique Chlup, President & Chief Creative Officer of Inspiring the Creative Within, LLC, hopes for “innovative approaches to the peer-review process to make the process review time optimal and less stressful.” Noting long review times and harsh reviewers’ comments as “paralyzing” parts of the current peer-review process, she is hopeful of “publishers pushing the envelope and introducing new peer-review models” and that in the next year “the speed it takes to get academic articles published in traditional print journals will get faster.”

Chlup read that a survey of academic authors found that publication speed is the 3rd most important factor authors consider when submitting to a journal. Topical fit and the quality of the journal are the top two factors.  (Reference: Solomon, D. J., Björk, B‐C. (2012) Publication Fees in Open Access Publishing: Sources of Funding and Factors Influencing Choice of Journal, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(1):98–107, 2012, DOI: 10.1002/asi.21660)

By improving on the peer-review process in a way that increases publication speed, Carmona may see another hope of his transpire – “for predatory publishing companies to disappear”.

Increases in open access publishing

Barb Hall, Director of Curriculum at Northcentral University and author of a book under contract with Stylus, “would like to see an increase in open access publishing, which might require shifting revenue streams away from journal subscriptions and article fees.”

Chlup also identifies open access and online publishing as sources of improvement in publication speed and journal subscription costs. “Hoping for lowered subscription journal costs in order to continue with important knowledge dissemination and the communication of novel discoveries across all the fields and disciplines”, she notes that the high subscription fees associated with traditional journals prevent libraries from subscribing to every journal across the disciplines.

Acknowledging that “Open Access journals are one response to this”, Chlup also states “there’s still improvements to be made in traditional journal formats.” As discussed above regarding technology-driven innovations, the solution may be more hybrid than a replacement of the old with the new.

A new era of transparency in publisher-author communication

Marielle Hoefnagels, author of Biology: Concepts and Investigations, say the change she’d like to see “is a letup in the pace of change!” Changes in recent years, including the introduction of subscription models like Cengage Unlimited, and rental models used by McGraw-Hill and Pearson, make it “harder for authors to know what’s happening with our books.”

Although, as noted in some of the above discussions, these new formats and models have benefit in the industry, Hoefnagels states, “It would be great if today’s revolutionary changes in the textbook business model could be accompanied by a new era of transparency in publisher-author communication.”

Which of these changes are you most hopeful to see? Are there others of greater importance? Let us know in the comments below.

Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.