Wiley Will Kill the Hindawi Brand

What to do with damaged goods? Relabeling them is a start.

In its earnings call on December 6th, Wiley announced they will “sunset” the Hindawi brand. This is a euphemism — useful in the sense that it takes time before darkness falls — but the Hindawi brand has been declared dead. Wiley plans to sprinkle its figurative ashes across the Wiley journals portfolio, with journals moving into research silos apart from the brand.

I had suggested in July that Wiley had three options given the predicament it found itself in — leadership change, strategy change, and dump Hindawi.

So far, the company has done 2/3 of these, albeit keeping the Hindawi assets while dumping the brand.

As Richard Poydner noted in a strong interview by Rick Anderson on “The Scholarly Kitchen,” strategic change may also be inevitable:

I anticipate that we will require more, not less, gatekeeping in the future, and we could see the return of paywalls. And as concern grows that AI companies could profit massively from exploiting freely available information, perhaps we will see a return to an all-rights environment. Funders and universities might end up regretting that they ever mandated the use of CC BY.

Founded in 1997, Hindawi was acquired by Wiley in 2021. Problems with its editorial processes led to massive problems at Wiley, which led to the ouster of the company’s CEO earlier this year.

Wiley remains vulnerable, as an investment analyst noted last month — even suggesting the company may want to find a buyer. Perhaps wiping the Hindawi brand from the books is a step in this direction. Either way, it’s smart, and also a lesson that just because something is aligned with OA publishing doesn’t mean it’s good enough to last.