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.

University Presses

University Presses sit in a unique and vital place in the scholarly ecosystem. They are at the forefront of efforts to build sustainable scholarly research infrastructure, and their proximity to the academy, as well as its libraries impacts their goals, stakeholders, and resourcing capabilities. This is an incredible benefit in many ways, but can also result in some challenges. Their subject taxonomies, content loading, usage reporting, and discovery processes can differ vastly from those of other publishers, and their technical staff are often few in number and stretched across many domains. Finally, their integration into the university ecosystem means that these presses are, in many cases, subject to budget and funding decisions made at the university level.

University presses are a foundational customer segment for Silverchair, a company that prides itself on creating a platform that allows users to grow and thrive with the help of our self-serve tools and our client engagement model, so this group aims to generate opportunities for discussion and to create platform features that will best support university presses in both delivering on their mission and remaining financially viable.

Discussions included:

  • What are the key business opportunities that your digital platforms address, and what are the main obstacles to finding success?
  • How will disruption of print supply chains and business models be collectively planned for? how to set digital offerings apart to serve entire business
  • Books are a commercial object and they should be treated as such on the platform:
    • How do we improve books and the platforms that feature them?
    • How can we integrate ebooks on the platform into the broader commercial marketplace?”
  • What is keeping presses from best serving their researchers/authors?
  • Improved store capabilities (ie bulk purchase, individual subscriptions)
  • How could the Silverchair Platform Tools better meet the needs of publishers with fewer technical staff members and a greater number of publications and products to manage?

Takeaways

  • The platform has closed a variety of book/journal functionality gaps and set guides in place to ensure future functionality is developed in a content- and publisher-agnostic way to support broader adoption.
  • The launch of Silverchair Composer has addressed a number of marketing and editorial needs, created a venue for new content types, and opened up news ways for UPs to engage with authors
  • Silverchair has served as a collaborative and consultative partner in providing solutions for accessibility by offering VPATs, establishing in-house expertise on accessible user experience and interface, and incorporating larger accessibility projects onto the development plan.
  • There is an open need to look into ways to more easily make corpus-wide changes without the need to reload content. UPs are more likely to have corpus-wide changes in xml b and their books have longer lifespans so you are more likely to have to change older content. This includes spec changes, OA transitions, and more.
  • Discussions on metrics have fed directly into the development of the forthcoming Silverchair Analytics tool, including article-level metrics, metrics to support the diversifying of revenue streams and OA business models
The UP group has proven to be such a wealth of diverse information sharing and collaboration opportunities that we decided to continue it beyond its original time limits and into 2021.

 

Ultimately, all these groups underline our goal for the Silverchair Platform to help publishers make money, save money, or better fulfill their mission. In addition to the takeaways and next steps outlined above, the Publisher Working Groups have resulted in valuable information exchanges, cross-publisher collaborations, and overall strengthening of our community of publishers. 2021 Publisher Working Groups are underway, so stay tuned for more information as those get going.

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