Pipes and Platforms at APE 2019

The annual publishing meeting tackles a question that oddly has the same answer

Pipes and Platforms at APE 2019

A few years ago, I attended my first Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) meeting in Berlin. Hosted by Arnoud de Kemp, the meeting was a revelation. Here was the kind of publishing meeting I could really enjoy. People spoke their minds, and without much of the stuffy formalism that can accompany some meetings. There was plenty of time to network. There was one agenda everyone shared rather than separate tracks. It wasn’t intimidating in size or duration. The host was charming, the food good, and the atmosphere relaxed.

I’ve been elevated to the Program Committee since then, and have attended regularly as well. The meeting has increased in popularity, but has not lost any of its appeal.

One of the hallmarks of the meeting is the host’s ability to get big names from Europe to attend and speak. (This year, Robert-Jan Smits will be speaking, for instance. I just can’t wait. I might be half as excited to hear him as he is.) Sometimes, there are big names from the US, as well, but the European flavor is welcome for this American, as clearly the politics, thinking, and professional pressures are different in Europe, where large corporate publishers, many with a long tradition of excellence, rule the roost. The people they send are polished, thoughtful, and interesting. The gossip is different, and the asides arch and novel. And Europe is where the activism is most acute right now on many fronts, from the regulation of social media to OA policy.

This year’s theme is timely — “Platforms or Pipelines? Where is the Value in Scholarly Communications?” With so much changing in ways that are fogging the future, having a venue where you can hear provocative talks and discuss things freely is very useful.

Despite how the question is posed, the answer for either may be the same, as Scott Galloway put recently in a presentation about the future of commerce:

If you look at the best performers in the stock market, they all have one thing in common — they’re platforms that have recurring revenues. . . . Every company that wants to [attract investment] needs to have their own recurring revenue bundle.

The best business model — for stability, for alignment of interests, for lack of exploitation, and for growth — remains the subscription model. Recurring revenues are always the optimal way to grow and maintain any business, whether it revolves around a platform or pipes.

I’m proud that “The Geyser” is a co-sponsor of APE 2019, and would urge you to attend if you would like a mid-January visit to Berlin. It’s a great way to kick off the year, and reconnect with the industry from a slightly different and very productive venue.

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