News: Academic Publishing Weekly

Acquisitions, cancelled book deals, and a post-Plan S world

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice
Academic Publishing Weekly graphic; reads: Academic Publishing Weekly, the latest curated news from around the industry. Dark purple background, white lettering.

Wiley Says Yes to the Dress (Acquisition)

John Wiley & Sons has acquired Hindawi Limited, a scientific research publisher based in London. The purchase (of $298 million!) marks an “acceleration of our strategy in open access (OA) research,” according to Jay Flynn, senior VP of Wiley. Since 1997, Hindawi has built a robust portfolio of over 200 peer-reviewed journals (much of which are gold open access) and its own publishing platform. Flynn praised Hindawi’s global reach, especially in China, and revealed their shared goals for the research world: “We believe that the trends point our industry toward a more open future, where gold open access, preprints, and transparency of data, methods and peer review will continue to grow in importance and amplify the impact of research globally.” And no one had a meltdown over the merits of tulle vs lace! [Publishing Perspectives]

Not Quite Sure How to Title a Blurb About an Attempted Coup

Unless you’ve been sequestered on Love Island, completely cut off from news and social media in the past week, you know about the storming of the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. While the aftermath of Wednesday’s events continues to unfold, the American Library Association released a statement condemning the violence, along with the Association of University Presses, which denounced the “deliberate misinformation” that led to these “foreseeable consequences.” The coup attempt (sedition, insurrection, what have you) also led to ramifications in the publishing world, as Simon & Schuster announced that it would no longer publish Senator Josh Hawley’s upcoming book due to “his role in what became a dangerous threat.” Senator Hawley released a statement, revealing his plans to take the issue to court and calling the decision “Orwellian.” Personally, I too find it Orwellian that my emo, freshman-year poetry never saw the light of publication. [New York Times]

We did not come to this decision lightly … As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.

Simon & Schuster

Library Lending Was Through the Roof

OverDrive, the digital platform for public and school libraries, has released its stats from 2020, which show off some impressive numbers. According to its records, total digital checkouts from libraries and schools increased 33 percent compared to 2019, with a 40 percent increase in e-book borrowing. While audiobook usage did grow 20 percent over last year, the rate of growth declined, which many pin on a lack of commuting. The metrics cover OverDrive’s customer expansion, with 20,000 libraries and schools joining its network. Also shared were the most borrowed titles across mediums, which included Becoming by Michelle Obama, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. [Publishers Weekly]

A Scholarly Showdown: Preprints vs Peer Review

While preprints allow researchers to share studies quickly, peer review is supposed to give researchers trust in those studies. Can these two somewhat opposing ideals come together? Rebecca Pool looks at several changes in both processes in the past year, like the recently-developed Rapid Reviews: COVID-19; the “open-access overlay journal” picks a variety of COVID-related studies from preprint servers and sends them to a group of trusted reviewers. Other changes include OA journal eLife’s new “publish then review” policy—only published preprints will be reviewed. Pool interviews shakers in the field, interrogating whether the peer review process has been accelerated enough, whether peer review will be as valued as it has in the past, and what “a system of curation around preprints” might look like. [Research Information]

Plan S: The Savior or Downfall of Scholarly Publishing?

This month, Plan S will go into effect, meaning researchers funded by Plan S compliant groups will need to make their work freely available upon publication. Researchers will have two options, either paying a fee to publishers to make it free on that platform, or sharing it on a public repository where it’s available to download. This motion has been years in the making, and those in the industry are waiting with bated breath to see how this will shake out for authors, publishers, and libraries. How will it affect small publishers, young researchers, and countries around the globe? Science breaks down open access policies, explaining what OA means for authors and universities, and whether it really is the future of scientific publishing. *Dun Dun Dun* [Science]

Which COVID Effects Are Forever?

Mike Shatzkin, a well-known expert on publishing trends, details the resilience of the industry this past year and possible shifts in supply chains, marketing techniques, and retail options moving forward. His predictions coincide with a recent report, “COVID-19 and Book Publishing: Impacts and Insights for 2021,” as he discusses a stronger reliance on backlist titles, print-on-demand options, and online shopping—whether it be on, Amazon, or Walmart. While his thoughts center on trade publishing, many of these ideas reflect changes in scholarly publishing too. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: when will academic presses revamp their online stores? [The Idea Logical Company]