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Duke University Press launches e-book platform

Duke University Press has teamed up with HighWire Press to launch a new e-book platform that consolidates its journals and more than 1,600 e-book titles.

The publisher decided to switch from the previously used Ebrary platform to its own website in order to allow for greater control as well as better search tools and cohesion between journals and books. Users can now see all journal articles and books created by a specific author and also compare book chapters to journal articles simultaneously.

“We publish books and journals around the same topics, and we publish authors as book authors and journal authors,”said Allison Belan, associate director for digital publishing at Duke University Press. “[The new platform] really brings all of the material we publish in one place.”

This ability to consolidate all of the Press’s material under one platform should prove valuable for users, said Ken Wissoker, editorial director of Duke University Press.

“We’ve had our humanities and social science journals hosted on their platform for quite a while, and we’ve been really happy with the partnership we’ve had with HighWire,” said Kimberly Steinle, Duke Universtiy Press library relations manager. “It will be nice to have the books and journals cross-searchable.”

Although the Press is expanding its e-book options, the staff doesn’t see printed books being replaced anytime soon.

“Printed journals won’t be around all that much longer, but I think people love reading books in printed forms,” said Director of Duke University Press Steve Cohn. “That is likely to continue for as long as I can envision.”

The consolidation of e-books and journals puts Duke University Press ahead of most of its competition. As one of the few university presses that publishes e-books and the only university press which has a larger journal program than book program, Duke University Press now has a top-of-the-line platform that is intended to attract authors.

“We compete a lot with other major university presses for authors,” Wissoker said. “Certainly having a cutting edge platform that people are excited about makes it easier to track the authors. This feels like the next step.”

In addition to putting the Press ahead of much of its competition, this new platform allows for a better relationship with libraries, which account for a large percentage of sales.

“In general, the move to digital publishing with both books and journals has led to much closer, better working relationships with libraries,” said Michael McCullough, associate marketing and sales manager for Duke University Press.

He added that having closer relationships with libraries allows for the press to make better publishing decisions. By knowing what the libraries want, the publisher can tailor its collection and sales strategies.

The new platform may be expanded in the future. Cohn said there may eventually be a Netflix-style model for reading books that would take advantage of e-commerce, pay-to-access options.

“These days, getting stuck in a certain model is not a smart thing. The world is just moving too fast,” Cohn said.


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