Last year, as part of our commitment to partnership, Silverchair assembled specialized Publisher Working Groups.

The working groups are time-bound and focus on topics surfaced at Silverchair Forum events, shared areas of interest between multiple publishers, and/or industry initiatives and market trends. These working groups serve as a venue for publisher-to-publisher collaboration on shared challenges, an opportunity to explore publisher and platform co-development projects, and a direct line of feedback to the Silverchair Product team's platform development plan. The working groups met over the course of six months to discuss the problem space, market insights and research, possible features, content or platform use-cases, and high-level requirements on the following topics:

Over a series of blog posts, we're sharing summaries from each group's activities, before announcing our 2021 working group topics.

Curation + Commerce

In an increasingly open, digital, and fast-changing publishing environment, publishers’ steady and reliable APC and subscription revenues are challenged by legal and policy shifts, changing consumer behavior and preferences, and purchaser demands. The packaging of content into books, journals, and monographs, pre-determined collections and databases, let alone into articles, is being questioned. In response, publishers are striking increasingly complex institutional licensing and open access deals; reconsidering individual, or consumer, commerce models like pay-per-view, micro-payments, and value-added products and services; and exploring third-party licensing and content and data aggregation and syndication. In response to these challenges and changes, Silverchair is working with publishers to generate opportunities to create platform features to support curation, showcase publishers' content, help collect data to drive engagement and usage, and to allow experimentation with or strengthen new commerce models.

Discussions included:

  • functionality to curate, slice or dice content into new products
  • ways to automate processes or create evolving or more flexible business rules
  • setting more sophisticated content permissions parameters
  • improving commerce features like metering, draw-down or pre-paid, accounts, rentals, or other offerings

Publisher activities and goals

  • Commercial opportunities in corporate sector; looking for different ways to consume content that have technical limitations currently
  • Pay-per-view for chapters, edited collections for books
  • Curation is being used for marketing and to increase brand awareness, but these efforts aren’t currently generating revenue
  • eBooks experimentation using aggregator rental models
  • Ability to sell 'class packs' or other specialized collections to universities, mixing book and journal content
  • Automated ways to curate that drive usage rather than increasing revenue; current processes are very manual
  • Exploiting older 'free' content to maintain more value for subscriptions–this could also be an opportunity for user registration ask
  • Creating a network effect between journals, making it easy to create semantic collections
  • Automated channels of content
  • Toll-free links and metering
  • Required registration for all free PDFs
  • Personalization and email marketing
  • Looking at heatmapping to learn about user experience and apply that to maximize ad space, related content widgets, etc.


  • Curation: currently a combination of manual / editorially driven practices with automated ones via SOLR, taxonomies, or keyword generation via AI
    • Issues: individual taxonomies can go stale pretty quickly and so much of this work is manual, even looking at Google
    • Curation goals include: more clicks, more time on site, more downloads, third party licensing, making the platform into a conversion funnel
  • Commerce: OA / funding mandates put pressure on commerce opportunities, so experimentation is key to survival; many models currently being tested, so many are eager to hear the outcome of those. User registration on free content helps to build leads / market for future promotion.
    • Possible models: membership/donation model (a la the Guardian), porous paywall, time-limited pay per view, individual subscriptions, collection sales, pricing optimization (member discounts, alternate pricing)

Next up: University Presses

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