Q:Please briefly introduce the cooperation between Springer Nature and the publishing companies of China.
A:Springer Nature is proud of its long history in China, and our intense cooperation with many Chinese publishers is an important part of that history. Long before we published Chinese authors directly in our international publishing imprints we already had established close relationships with Chinese co-publishing partners and shared thoughts,experience, and masterpieces of Chinese scientific writing. I strongly believe that our co-publishing arrangements with Chinese publishers is to the benefit of all: our international readers get access to important works from China, Chinese authors will receive the recognition in the world that they deserve, and both publishers can offer a better service to their communities.
From 2011 to 2013 I lived in China and set up some of the editorial departments that are still in operation today.This was an important part of my personal“history” within Springer Nature,but also an important step for the company.A publishing company must not call itself international without a strong presence in China. But despite our strong growth in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, we still need more people and more presence here to do justice to the strong growing internationalization of Chinese research.
Q:Based on your rich experience of international publishing, how do you look at China’s academic book market? Speaking of this, how do you look at the role of Chinese writers and works playing in the international academic field?
A:We are still at the very beginning of the Chinese academic book market,when it comes to international recognition of scientific achievements in the world. Both local and international publishers, in strong cooperation with the academic community have to work towards bringing western and eastern worlds together. The number of English language monographs authored by Chinese researchers has grown tremendously over the last past years, but still do not reflect the potential importance of the local research for the international debates. China is big enough that there will always be room for a very strong local discourse, but it is a pity that still a lot of results from Chinese researchers are unknown to the rest of the world because of language issues – and vice versa.
Q How does Springer Nature protect the copyright of authors in the background of digital publishing and self-publishing?
A:In order to serve the scientific community best, we need plurality. It is good that authors can self-publish or chose between local and international publishers that offer the book traditionally or digital, in Open Access or subscription. The importance is transparency, that authors know what they will get from the different options,which all have their individual benefits.Springer Nature has decided to offer all kinds of different business models, and to publish all books both in traditional print form as well as in several digital editions, in order to leave it to the reader to decide in which form he wants to consume the book. This guarantees a maximum dissemination and we can observe that this decision is justified by the feedback from our customers all over the world, and by the growth of readership of our online books from Chinese authors.It is, however, important to understand that digital publishing does not stop when you have uploaded something into the internet. Publishing, especially digital publishing has become very sophisticated and the requirements to offer high quality meta-data,do appropriate search-engine optimization,offer all necessary different digital formats from HTML and PDF to the different versions of ePub, make it easy for libraries to include digital editions into their catalogues, just to name a few examples, have grown extremely in the last ten years.
Therefore, I do not feel there is anything to protect, we just need to continue what we did in the last years:improve our service to authors all over the world. If I look at the number of citations that an average Springer or Palgrave book accumulates over its lifetime,I can see that in terms of recognition by the scientific community, to publish a book with us is in many cases a very good idea.
Q:For Springer Nature, in terms of academic book publishing, what are the marketing strategies and planning in the future?
A:First of all, we have set up a long term strategy to innovate the book.This may sound strange, since the book format was very stable for the last 500years, but we believe that we do not yet make the most out of the possibilities digital publishing offers. So far, eBooks are the best possible copy of a printed book in the digital world, but there are so many more possibilities to make better books. Books have always been means of communication, but so far it was a one-way communication from the author to his readers. In the digital world, by combining the traditional authority authority of a printed book with the new possibilities of communication, we can create better services to authors and readers alike.Second, we are involved in research projects to improve the reading experience.We know that sometimes it is better to read a print book, sometimes it is better to read a digital version, but there might be other formats that can help students and researchers to understand quicker or memorize easier what they have read.Third, we have a strategy to improve the discovery of our books, because there is so much information available today, that in some cases it is quite difficult to find what is really relevant.If we continue these three elements:better books, better reading, and better discoverability, I am sure we can improve our service to the community and will continue our growth story here in China.
Q:Does Open Access have any positive or negative influence on the business model of Springer Nature?
A: It certainly influences the publishing world; it is even one of the most influential trends of this decade. ButI would not say that it is a positive or negative influence, because it is simply an alternative business model. For both journals and books we are neutral with regard to the publishing model, we are happy to publish in the “traditional”style or in Open Access.If all published works would be freely available for everybody, the role of libraries as curators of knowledge would dramatically change, and also the abundance of information would create new problems to identify relevant,important, high quality content from incorrect, incomplete, or irrelevant works. Therefore, it is probably favorable for each author, to think about the optimal publishing model. It should bean informed decision by the author, not by the publisher.
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