The Bookseller – News – Springer Nature revenues up as profit climbed 12% in 2021

“Springer Nature’s revenue grew 4.5% to €1.7bn (£1.5bn) in 2021 while adjusted operating profit climbed 12%, the company has revealed in its first ever annual progress report.

Revenue rose from €1.63bn (£1.4bn) in 2020, but was marginally down on 2019’s €1.72bn (£1.5bn). Adjusted operating profit increased to €443m (£387m) from €396m (£346m) the year before and €411m (£360m) in 2019, attributed to “strong revenue growth and careful cost management adopted in response to the economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic”. …”

 

The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges | Zenodo

Butler, Leigh-Ann, Matthias, Lisa, Simard, Marc-André, Mongeon, Philippe, & Haustein, Stefanie. (2022). The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges (Version v1). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7057144 Abstract: This study aims to estimate the total amount of article processing charges (APCs) paid to publish open access (OA) in journals controlled by the large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, the so-called oligopoly of academic publishing. Since the early 2010s, these five academic publishers control more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles indexed in the Web of Science (WoS), expanding their market power through acquisitions and mergers. While traditionally their business model focused on charging subscriptions to read articles, they have now shifted to OA, charging authors fees for publishing. These APCs often amount to several thousand dollars, excluding many from publishing on economic grounds. This study computes an estimate of the total amounts of APCs paid to oligopoly publishers between 2015 and 2018, using publication data from WoS, OA status from Unpaywall and annual APC prices from open datasets and historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. We estimate that globally authors paid the oligopoly of academic publishers $1.06 billion in publication fees in the 4-year period analyzed. Of the 505,903 OA articles analyzed, 60.9% were published in gold OA journals, 8.6% in diamond (gold with APC=$0) and 30.5% in hybrid journals. Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals, for which publishers already charge subscription fees. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the largest revenue from OA ($589.7 million), followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million) and Sage ($31.6 million). With Elsevier and Wiley making the majority of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.

Say Hello to Anno : Hypothesis | 18 Aug 2022

“It’s been 11 years since we launched Hypothesis. It’s gone by so fast. During this time, we’ve accomplished many things: We defined a vision for open web annotation, we built an open source framework to implement it, we helped form and lead the working group that shipped the W3C standard, and we launched a service that’s now used by over a million people around the world who have made nearly 40 million annotations. In higher education, more than 1,200 colleges and universities use Hypothesis. And we’ve grown from a handful of people into a team of more than 35 passionate web builders. We’re not stopping here.

We’ve always had our sights set on the bigger idea: that this still-nascent effort can blossom into a true network of interoperable services — a rich ecosystem of collaboration, conversation and community over all knowledge. We believe that when incentives are aligned toward quality and away from monetizing attention, we can produce something of profound social importance. A utility layer for humanity. Since launch, the Hypothesis Project has been incorporated as a nonprofit. And while our nonprofit was an excellent home for our mission, it also limited us to grants and donations. Though we were beginning to provide services that we could charge for, we still needed capital to expand. Frustratingly, while our needs were growing, several of the key funding sources we’d relied on were no longer available to us as they shuttered programs or changed strategies. In 2019, we and others formed Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI), an “initiative to dramatically increase the amount of funding available to open scholarly infrastructure.” We recruited Kaitlin Thaney to that effort, and she has been doing a terrific job laying the foundation for this. But all this would take time we didn’t have.

In response, and to better position us to achieve our long-held mission, we’ve formed Anno, a public benefit corporation (aka “Annotation Unlimited, PBC”) that shares the Hypothesis mission as well as its team. We’ve done this so that we can take investment in a mission aligned way and scale the Hypothesis service to meet the opportunity in front of us. Anno is funded by a $14M seed round that includes a $2.5M investment from ITHAKA, the nonprofit provider of JSTOR, a digital library that serves more than 13,000 education institutions around the world, providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines. Also participating in the round are At.inc, Triage Ventures, Esther Dyson, Mark Pincus and others. ITHAKA’s president, Kevin Guthrie, has joined Anno’s board as an observer….”

Inequities of Article Processing Charges: How the Oligopoly of Academic Publishers Profits from Open Access | Zenodo

“Since the early 2010s, more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles have been published by the so-called oligopoly of academic publishers: Elsevier, SAGE, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. These companies make immense profits from publishing scholarly journals, traditionally through subscriptions from academic libraries, the reader pays model. With more and more libraries cancelling so-called ‘Big Deals’, these publishers have expanded their revenues by making authors pay article processing charges (APCs) for open access (OA) publishing. The author-pays model creates inequities and barriers that exclude many from publishing, such as underrepresented groups or researchers from less-resourced countries. This presentation demonstrates the growth of gold and hybrid OA articles published in oligopoly journals indexed in the Web of Science and provides evidence of the amount of APCs paid in Canada and globally. It highlights the inequities of the author-pays model and discusses alternative routes to OA.”

Inequities of Article Processing Charges: How the Oligopoly of Academic Publishers Profits from Open Access – SPARC

“Since the early 2010s, more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles have been published by the so-called oligopoly of academic publishers: Elsevier, SAGE, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. These companies make immense profits from publishing scholarly journals, traditionally through subscriptions from academic libraries, the reader pays model. With more and more libraries cancelling so-called ‘Big Deals’, these publishers have expanded their revenues by making authors pay article processing charges (APCs) for open access (OA) publishing. The author-pays model creates inequities and barriers that exclude many from publishing, such as underrepresented groups or researchers from less-resourced countries. This presentation demonstrates the growth of gold and hybrid OA articles published in oligopoly journals indexed in the Web of Science and provides evidence of the amount of APCs paid in Canada and globally. It highlights the inequities of the author-pays model and discusses alternative routes to OA.”

Sounding the Alarm: Scholarly Information and Global Information Companies in 2021 | Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Abstract:  Vendors and publishers collaborate and work to protect their bottom line — which is threatened by open access (OA) — by expanding into research lifecycle and data analytics, and by continuing to merge and acquire each other, reducing choice in the library market. The implementation of Seamless Access and other systems force library staff into the position of gatekeeper for systems and platforms that we have no control or input over. Vendors and publishers control the online content that librariescan access: they add and remove content at will, and classify titles according to their greatest possible sales margins, making valuable resources unavailable to libraries to license for campus-wide access. These vendor actions—which impact the research lifecycle as a whole, disrupt traditional publishing, and seek to monetize user data—are extremely concerning. Collective action is the only way to make significant inroads against these developments. We suggestsome proactive ways that we can initiate these collective actions and resist these industry-wide developments imposed by vendors and publishers.

How much profit does a journal make? The case of SCIREA – Predatory Journals and Conferences

“In this article, we consider SCIREA’s revenue in an attempt to estimate how much profit this publisher makes. It is difficult to be precise, as we do not have access to their accounts or their business model, but we estimate their revenue to be USD 151,340, with a profit of about USD 121,072.

We have previously looked at the the number of editors that the publisher SCIREA had on each of its 39 journals, concluding that, on average, each editor handled (much) less than one paper every five years.

SCIREA are a scientific publisher, with a portfolio of 39 journals (as at Jul 2021).  We made additional observations in our previous article and, if you would like to know more, we refer you to that article….”

Wiley Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2022 Results |

 

Research Publishing & Platforms rose 9% as reported and at constant currency and 4% excluding acquisitions, driven by strong growth in open access, corporate solutions, and research platforms.
Academic & Professional Learning grew 4% as reported and 3% at constant currency, driven by strong recovery in Professional Learning from prior-year COVID lockdown impacts. This more than offset a decline in Education Publishing due to softer US enrollment and some easing of prior-year COVID-related tailwinds in content and courseware.

What is the relationship between legal form, governance, and ethics? | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“In the world of OA publishing, there have been further (not-so)shock waves reverberating this week as Knowledge Unlatched was sold to Wiley. One of the questions this raises is: how was it possible for this sale to go through and what could have been done to prevent it?

One of the first points to raise, and one that I have already made on Twitter, is that Knowledge Unlatched had to take a corporate form that protected its founder’s investment. Now, whether it’s what I would have done is a different matter, but it nonetheless takes a lot of guts to stake a huge amount (or, even, all) of your personal pension on an idea, which is what Frances Pinter did. But if you need the money back, you have to be able to sell the asset. So the fact that KU didn’t attract the not-for-profit investment affected the choice of corporate form.

What does being a charity or community interest company actually mean, though? It means, first, that your organization has an eleemosynary purpose. That is, it must be operated for the public benefit. Education, for instance, is a charitable object. It doesn’t even, in UK law, though, have to be education for everyone (the general public). Private schools can be (and often are) charities, despite only providing education to the subset of the “general public” who pay them. Hence, academic publishing can be a charitable purpose, even if it’s not openly accessible.

Second, it means that your organization is subject to certain types of financial control, but also benefit. In the UK, charities that raise money in fulfillment of their charitable purposes are not subject to corporation tax (though they are subject to VAT, under specific circumstances, and also to other taxes). They can also be converted only to organizations that share commensurate charitable objects. OLH, for instance, can merge with Birkbeck, University of London, because they share the charitable purposes of education for the public benefit.

Third, it also means that you will probably struggle for money. Charities are not allowed just to rake in tonnes and tonnes of surplus without question. They have to operate somewhat prudently. They also don’t have the mega-bucks of the big for-profit players, which means that they can usually be out-competed by these entities, which could, to be frank, starve the not-for-profits out, Uber-style, if they wanted.”

Why the price of scholarly publishing is so much higher than the cost | Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

“In an efficient market, competing providers of a good will each try to undercut each other until the prices they charge approach the cost. If, for example, Elsevier and Springer-Nature were competing in a healthy free market, they would each be charging prices around one third of what they are charging now, for fear of being outcompeted by their lower-priced competitor. (Half of those price-cuts would be absorbed just by decreasing the huge profit margins; the rest would have to come from streamlining business processes, in particular things like the costs of maintaining paywalls and the means of passing through them.)

So why doesn’t the Invisible Hand operate on scholarly publishers? Because they are not really in competition. Subscriptions are not substitutable goods because each published article is unique. If I need to read an article in an Elsevier journal then it’s no good my buying a lower-priced Springer-Nature subscription instead: it won’t give me access to the article I need.

(This is one of the reasons why the APC-based model — despite its very real drawbacks — is better than the subscription model: because the editorial-and-publication services offered by Elsevier and Springer-Nature are substitutable. If one offers the service for $3000 and the other for $2000, I can go to the better-value provider. And if some other publisher offers it for $1000 or $500, I can go there instead.)…

Björn Brembs has been writing for years about the fact that every market has a luxury segment: you can buy a perfectly functional wristwatch for $10, yet people spend thousands on high-end watches. He’s long been concerned that if scholarly publishing goes APC-only, then people will be queuing up to pay the €9,500 APC for Nature in what would become a straightforward pay-for-prestige deal. And he’s right: given the outstandingly stupid way we evaluate reseachers for jobs, promotion and tenure, lots of people will pay a 10x markup for the “I was published in Nature” badge even though Nature papers are an objectively bad way to communicate research.

But it feels like something stranger is happening here. It’s almost as though the whole darned market is a luxury segment….

How can funders fix this, and get APCs down to levels that approximate publishing cost? I see at least three possibilities.

First, they could stop paying APCs for their grantees. Instead, they could add a fixed sum onto all grants they make — $1,500, say — and leave it up to the researchers whether to spend more on a legacy publisher (supplementing the $1,500 from other sources of their own) or to spend less on a cheaper born-OA publisher and redistribute the excess elsewhere.

Second, funders could simply publish the papes themselves. To be fair several big funders are doing this now, so we have Wellcome Open Research, Gates Open Research, etc. But doesn’t it seem a bit silly to silo research according to what body awarded the grant that funded it? And what about authors who don’t have a grant from one of these bodies, or indeed any grant at all?

That’s why I think the third solution is best. I would like to see funders stop paying APCs and stop building their own publishing solutions, and instead collaborate to build and maintain a global publishing solution that all researchers could use irrespective of grant-recipient status. I have much to say on what such a solution should look like, but that is for another time.”

Why I am building Arcadia.

“I walked away with the backing to establish a new startup, Trove….

At Trove, we are led by curiosity and remain committed to learning and sharing the knowledge we’ve gained. There is no need to lock up the lessons we’ve learned from others in the tick community. In fact, we have sought their feedback, and we will publish most of our protocols, tools, and datasets without paywalls or delays. It’s the most rigorous any of us have ever had to be, and all of this is in the absence of journals. Our work may ultimately translate into products that could be useful to many more people….

For all these reasons, I have decided to take the best parts of my experiences to build a new research organization called Arcadia Science. I am co-founding Arcadia with yet another fierce woman scientist Prachee Avasthi, who is a leader among leaders in the fight for open science. …”

‘Strong’ first half for RELX despite Exhibitions losses | The Bookseller

“Elsevier, RELX’s STM division, saw revenue dip 1% year on year to £1,276m, but that represented a 5% rise in constant currencies, with underlying growth (excluding acquisitions and sell-offs) calculated at 4%. Profit was flat with 2020’s first-half at £476m, up 4% in constant currencies and with underlying growth also up 4%.

Elsevier’s performance was driven by “continued good growth in electronic revenue”, which now stands at 88% of divisional revenue. Print revenue, which now represents a little over 5% of total sales, “stabilised following the unusually steep declines seen in the same period last year.” For its full-year outlook, RELX predicted the division would see underlying revenue growth “slightly above historical trends”, with adjusted operating profit growing slightly ahead of revenue.”