Monday, January 25, 2010

Social Science and Humanities Publishers Stood Up to Challenges in 2009

Faced with challenges from disruptive technologies, an uncertain future for its traditional publishing model and a titanic global recession, the market for social science and humanities publishing has still managed to grow, according to "Social Science and Humanities Publishing 2009-2010" (, the latest strategic market report from Simba Information, a leading media industry forecast and analysis firm.
The global social science and humanities publishing market grew total sales 1.6% to $2.4 billion in 2009. Poor economic conditions in the U.S. hurt book sales and put publishers' recurring journal subscription revenue in question as library budgets tighten.

Social science and humanities publishers often take a back seat to the scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing sector because revenue is tied to scholarly monographs with niche appeal and journals that don't attract the commercial interest of their STM counterparts. Still many small commercial publishers specializing in social science and humanities sustain levels of profit sufficient to satisfy their investors.

These presses confront substantial challenges, but also encounter significant opportunities. Advanced software and techniques for composition, cheaper digitization and file storage mechanisms, sophisticated online content management systems, and short-run and print-on-demand services all help presses lower costs for new publications and give renewed life to their backlist titles. Similarly, the growth of the Web, powerful discovery tools such as Google and the other search engines, and the opening of new distribution channels such as have made it possible to reach new markets beyond university libraries.

To exploit these opportunities, social science and humanities publishers must make strategic investments in existing and emerging forms of publication, continuously review their more specialized processes and make technical and other investments wherever possible to reduce costs. In addition, presses need to form strategic alliances among themselves to strengthen and improve the publishing services they provide to the scholarly community.

This report provides an overview and financial outlook for the global social science and humanities publishing markets based on specific research and analysis of the leading competitors' performance. This research was conducted in conjunction with a larger study of the overall market for professional publishing.

The market for social sciences and the market humanities are divided into four content delivery channels: books, journals, online services (including abstracting and indexing) and other, a category that includes audio, video and CD-ROM information.

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