STM Publishing and Distribution



STM Publishing has always been the reliable but tedious child of the publication industry. When it comes to financials, the growth rate cannot be underestimated. The annual revenues generated from English-language STM journal publishing are estimated at about $12 billion in 2016, (up from $8 billion in 2009) within a broader STM information publishing market worth some $28.2 billion. So, in terms of revenue, the growth rate has been significant.

STM Publishers are always keen on innovation.  Like the larger publishing industry, they want to increase their outreach. The digital revolution has made that possible. The STM publishing industry wants to be part of any innovative concepts that are current and those that will change the future of the industry.

In regards to professional publishing or scientific journal publishing, production and distribution is always a key area.

When it comes to production, digital media allows publishing service providers to cut costs across the board and save expenses on printing and shipping. This works in tandem with the distribution model. In more ways than one, going digital translates into much faster output for every journal or publication.

In the last 5 years, there has been a significant shift towards mobile content consumption. In the modern world, the culture has become fast paced and everyone needs their information right at their fingertips, literally. Smart Phones, with the use of apps and fast paced mobile 3G and 4G connections, have changed content consumption for the long run. According to Brian F. O’Leary, “Automation and user-driven content delivery in STM publishing may point the way for continued evolution in other segments, including trade publishing.” Publishing trends have been pointing in this direction. For instance, take the medical field. Doctors are seeing patients every day. Some of them may have symptoms that can’t be explained. Instead of going through volumes of files and medical journals, they can just whip out their mobile device and acquire the vital data instantly. Scholarly Publishing Services companies would probably have to invest in app development as an alternative means to distribute content. College students would greatly benefit from such a model as they wouldn’t spend hours in the library trying to research for a thesis paper to find obscure references. It would all be positioned on one platform.

The other distribution model that could prove successful is the Netflix model. The subscription-based digital content model where users pay a fee every month has already influenced the music, videogame as well as trade publishing industries. For STM publishers, it could serve as a platform where users will get access to several journals for each of the disciplines and sub-disciplines. It’s an interesting idea that requires further research and testing. But it’s certainly something that could benefit the entire STM/Scholarly business.

In the future, STM publishing will become more interactive with augmented reality starting to take precedence in other parts of the publishing industry. It’s only a matter of time when students, scientists, doctors and others will don VR glasses when they receive a STM publication. Anything is possible!