More than ever, we are actively engaged with our customer communities in 2012—gathering their feedback and responding to issues as we continue to enhance our new platform. Libraries, publishers, and researchers represent the core audiences of Project MUSE and each has a different set of needs.
We’ve learned from all groups that MUSE is more than just a content aggregation of journals and books. We have a responsibility to the scholarly community to help shape and define the road ahead—to reinforce our leadership position in leveraging the interests of publishers and libraries.
We don’t talk a lot about sustainability—we make it happen. We’ve just delivered our largest royalty amount ever–$15.7 million to our journal publishers to help them continue publishing high-quality research. That represents 80% of all revenues before the bills are paid.
In a recent article focusing on commercial publishers in The Economist, I read, “Academic journals are a license to print money.” In the humanities and the social sciences nothing could be further from the truth. We host many titles whose MUSE royalty is critical to their existence.
Commercial publishers have adopted the strategy that “more is better” and continue to run down the list of titles on MUSE attempting and in some cases succeeding in prying them away from not-for-profit publishers with promises and large initial cash payments.
These activities are not good for the scholarly community overall, as in many cases these companies double or triple the subscription prices for these titles to libraries.
We continue to deliver savings in difficult economic times to libraries. Our back issues program has launched more than 3,000 issues since its inception at no additional cost to libraries. Over the last decade, we’ve delivered $90 million in savings to libraries. Through this approach, we have been able to network MUSE journals around the world and drive significant usage.
Researchers have not been shy about communicating with us and we appreciate the passion that exists for Project MUSE. The Polish poet Piotr Gwiazda told me recently, “Project MUSE is indispensable for my work. It’s the only place I can go to find the articles I need for certain subjects.”
Over the course of the next 18 months we are committed to investing in the technology to create the definitive research environment for collaboration and exchange–and will invest several million dollars to do so.
We’ve learned a great deal about our UPCC eBooks offering and are exploring ways to enrich the user experience. Libraries are experimenting with demand-driven models. Book publishers continue to embrace sweeping changes to their business.
Our goal is to establish a meaningful channel for reaching institutions and individual book buyers that will introduce opportunities for publishers to maximize the discoverability their offerings, receive much needed sales information and user data, and ensure their long-term viability.
Columbia journalism grad Danielle Lanzet recently asked me, “How far are we away from a service that delivers content from robot to reader?” It’s an interesting question and one that we at Project MUSE are uniquely positioned to explore.
These conversations reinforce the new duality of remaining open to the possibilities of what is sure to be an exciting future, while staying focused on addressing the immediate needs of our communities.
Thanks for reading.