Scholarly Societies Optimistic about Global Downturn’s Effect on Their Publishing Operations

A survey presented at a recent Wiley-Blackwell Executive Seminar on "Journals Publishing: Policy and Practice in an Uncertain Market" shows that scholarly societies are surprisingly optimistic about the effect of the global downturn on their publishing operations.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Sixty percent of professional and scholarly societies believe that the global economic downturn might be a stimulus to introducing efficiencies within their organizations, while 57% think it might provide opportunities for launching new activities or services for their members, according to a new study presented at the Wiley-Blackwell Executive Seminar held at the Royal Society, London, on June 19th 2009.

The study, carried out by Wiley-Blackwell, the leading publisher for professional and scholarly societies, examined the potential impact of the economic downturn on its society publishing partners. Sixty-eight percent characterized the global economic downturn as moderately negative, while 17% stated that it will have minimal negative impact or may even be beneficial.

Asked to rank the expected impact of the economic downturn on each category of their organization’s revenues or assets, more than 75% of society officers believed that there would be a very or slightly negative impact on their membership dues and conference income, with the most concern expressed about endowments and investments. Thirty-two percent did not anticipate any change in income from publishing, forty-seven percent believed it could be slightly affected, while 17% percent felt this area may be very affected.

In terms of strategies to ride out the economic crunch, 41% said that they would consider downsizing while a further 41% said they would consider expanding. More than half (54%) felt that the way to navigate the recession was outsourcing some of their core activities, such as publishing. Two-thirds thought that their publishing needs would not change during the recession, while one-third thought they would. . . .

The survey, carried out by Wiley-Blackwell in Spring 2009, was completed by 47 officers from scholarly and professional societies ranging in size from less than 500 members to more than 25,000, and from a variety of subject disciplines. The majority of respondents were based in Europe and the United States.

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