Happy 2022 from Gold Leaf! We apologise for not having sent our new year’s greetings sooner.
We are not offering excuses for being so tardy, but if we were, we could claim that we have been waiting to get more of a grip on the lie of the land as the new year swings into gear (apologies for the mixed metaphors!). What do we think 2022 will bring to academic publishing?
Here are a few predictions, some questions and some personal hopes.
- Covid and ways of working. Despite all the ifs and buts, the travelling a few steps forwards in 2021 only to fall many paces back and all the prophecies of the soothsayers of doom, we think 2022 will see a return to a greater semblance of ‘normality’ than we have ‘enjoyed’ since the first lockdown in early spring 2020. This is likely to mean more travelling and more face-to-face meetings for all of us. However, we predict that the virtual meeting is now part of the ecology of academic publishing and is here to stay, though hopefully in lower and less enforced doses.
- Sustainability. The last point leads directly to something that is hardly a prediction: the need to keep on developing strategies that deliver environmental sustainability. The concept of sustainability has firmly stamped its mark on publishing as much as every other industry. It’s a huge subject, but specifics for us are likely to include more targeted travel; paying greater attention to expenditure on energy; using only FSC paper and other sustainable raw materials; deploying local suppliers wherever possible; and continuing to innovate by developing user-friendly electronic products (though comparisons made between the carbon footprint of these and more traditional products may sometimes yield disappointing results).
- Open Access. Another huge subject. Burning issues include the anticipation and fulfilment of research funders’ next moves; greater commitment to OA for books and how to achieve a sustainable business model to make it work; and how to publish ‘non-book content’ in fully OA journals.
- Events. What will happen to book fairs, conferences and other mass industry gatherings? We think these will probably survive, but in a less flashy (and lucrative for the organisers) way. Pre-2020, book fairs increasingly turned into events to deliver large numbers of eclectic, expensive seminars. It was the tail wagging the dog. Should book fairs become truer to their original raison d’être, i.e., used primarily to facilitate meetings between people from different parts of the industry and different countries for the discussion of business and closing of deals? Some of this can be done remotely – the fairs are likely to be smaller than in the past – and some of it can’t. Likewise, should conferences be shorter, fewer in number and more co-ordinated: should they be be organised for specific groups of people to share and explore information about genuine topics of interest, not hi-jacked by exhibitions to showcase materials, spawn costly dinners that cause the organisers to eke out the programme for an extra superfluous day, etc.?
- Undergraduates. Have the experiences of the last two years, combined with the continuing withdrawal of government support for non-STEM subjects and fluctuations in the job market, disillusioned young people to the point where they no longer want to commit the time and expense to gaining a degree? Will those undergraduate courses that survive change completely in nature and become almost solely vocational? And are government measures to make universities more accountable and their teaching achievements more measurable truly aiding the quality of higher education delivery or stifling it?
- Partnerships. Post-OA, post-‘transformative agreements’, post accelerated delivery of completely online or hybrid courses, what kinds of partnership do publishers need to forge with universities and what are the barriers to success? Where do we draw the line between ‘them’ and ‘us’?
Some personal hopes
- Meetings. At Gold Leaf, we very much hope to be able to meet all our clients and the many friends who support us during 2022. We celebrated our 20th birthday in 2021. It was necessarily a low-key affair. We hope to be able to celebrate person-to-person with all of you during the course of this year.
- Success, happiness and above all health for all our readers. It’s a big wish – we’ll need to be in the Good Fairy’s good books to achieve it. But we do mean it most sincerely. We hope this year will be the best ever yet for you, both personally and professionally. No one will be more excited to hear of your successes and more genuinely pleased than we shall.
Please keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going!
Warmest best wishes,
Annika and Linda