AAUP: Digital Strategy, Challenges, and Opportunities

Silverchair just had several members return from the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Annual Meeting in Austin, which we attended as a Bronze sponsor.

At this meeting we eschewed the standard exhibit hall booth in favor of a new approach—we rented a meeting room and hosted small-group “Digital Strategy Seminars.” Despite the less-than-ideal location of the room in what turned out to be a labyrinth of hallways and ballrooms, this format resulted in a combination of presentation and conversation, and we learned at least as much as we taught as we engaged with the UPs, distributors, and vendors. The format worked very well and we hope to employ it at more meetings moving forward.

Among the takeaways from those conversations and more at other AAUP events:

  • Many of the people who met with us were Production or Marketing managers, for whom digital had been tacked onto their existing responsibilities. These conversations reinforced our confidence in Silverchair’s value as a key partner in the simplification/unification of roles and workflow in the area of digital content. This added efficiency not only offers additional digital expertise to university presses, it saves cost in outsourcing functions that are not central to their mission.
  • A point that resonated with all the presses was the ability to experiment with new products quickly and with low-cost. Self-serve functionalities empower publishers to unlock their backlist content by creating collections, testing new formats, and iterating on those successes.
  • SEO and discovery remains high on everyone’s list of concerns, and we had some good conversations with presses about the solutions we use to tackle these issues at Silverchair.
  • Many presses are actively moving toward consolidation of journal and ebook offerings, and we discussed how the silo approach that came about in print is too limiting when it comes to digital, in terms of collection creation, content discovery, and digital workflows. The Silverchair offering of One Platform was and is very appealing to Press Directors looking for a more unified digital strategy.

Outside of the conference hotel, we had some excellent meals and talks at June’s All Day, the Container Bar, and The Contemporary. Austin is a fantastic city—a great location for a truly engaging conference. See you next year in San Francisco!

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