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The Press’s Academic group publishes over 50,000 books and 375 peer-reviewed journals, many of them the leading academic journals in their field. Our books – nearly all of them available in electronic form – include research monographs, academic reference, textbooks, books for professionals and paperbacks aimed at graduate students.
The excellence of our academic publishing was recognised in 2015–16 by the record number of prizes won by the Press in one of the industry’s most prestigious book awards, and by our success in attracting new titles to our range of scholarly journals.
But despite this, and in common with others in the industry, it was a challenging year for Academic as we adjusted to changes in the market place brought on by constrained library budgets and the continuing digital revolution.
At the same time, we have been undergoing something of a revolution of our own, modernising our book publishing production system to make it more efficient and suited to the demands of the digital age.
We believe this new era is one ripe with opportunities for university presses with the flexibility to adapt to the fast pace of change. We have three particular advantages: global reach; a reputation with authors for the highest quality publishing; and, as part of a great research University, being at the very heart of the academic community we serve.
Our links with the wider Cambridge family are central to what we do, and we stepped up our collaboration with other departments during the year. These ties foster intellectual creativity, new products, and the burnishing of our reputation as part of the Cambridge brand, while allowing us to support and promote the University’s strategic research objectives.
It is a tribute to our authors and editors that our books won 10 awards – our best ever showing – at the annual Professional and Scholarly Excellence Awards (PROSE), the most prestigious for our industry. Our 25 citations were more than for any other publisher.
Cambridge winners in the awards – given out by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) – included the categories of classics, cosmology and astronomy, earth science, art history and criticism, and law and legal studies. Honourable mentions were achieved in almost all categories, including government and politics, psychology and philosophy.
The star of the show was The Roman Forum: A Reconstruction and Architectural Guide, which carried off the Award for Excellence in Humanities and won its category, Archeology & Ancient History.
Our excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences was also underlined by our range of publications and activities commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Other outstanding titles included Eleanor Dickey’s Learning Latin The Ancient Way, which examines how the language was taught to non-native speakers in the ancient world, and The Reader’s Brain: How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Writer, by Yellowlees Douglas.
We believe this new era is one ripe with opportunities for university presses with the flexibility to adapt to the fast pace of change.
Our strengths in Science, Technology and Medicine publishing, with world-class lists in physics, maths and climate change, were underscored again not only by a series of award wins, but also by innovative books such as Time-Lapse Microscopy in In-Vitro Fertilization, one of the first resources to describe in detail a state-of-the-art analytical tool for assisted reproduction.
However, monograph publishing had a challenging year, with the overall market continuing to decline as libraries shift the emphasis of their spending from print to digital, and from books to journals, and business models continue to evolve. The American market was further complicated by consolidation and destocking among library suppliers and college bookstore chains.
Demand for scholarly journals remained robust and we extended our range of titles. New launches included BJHS Themes, Business and Human Rights Journal and Global Health, Epidemiology & Genomics.
We also took on some important titles for learned societies. These included the Journal of Glaciology and the Annals of Glaciology, both based in Cambridge at the Scott Polar Research Institute
Open Access journals – those available free to the reader – are becoming ever more important to the academic community. The Press, with a mission to advance learning, knowledge and research worldwide, is keen to support this form of publishing wherever it can be economically viable. We are, for example, transitioning the Journal of Glaciology from subscription to Open Access.
Supporting our authors and their needs is central to our thinking, for academic publishing is nothing without them. The year included numerous initiatives that should enhance their experience of working with the Press.
The internet is a key tool for promoting academic research and we continue to increase our support to journal authors in understanding how best to use the medium to make their work more discoverable online, reach a wide audience and engage with readers.
Our Author Hub online site provides guidance on promoting articles via social media and we also offer personal advice and a bespoke service for authors wanting to make their own videos. Our partnership with Kudos, a free web based service, helps authors present their articles in a way designed to cut through the growing quantity of research to reach the right audience. We are also increasing the profile of our most successful academic books via social media promotion.
Authors will also benefit from a new approach to our book publishing production system. We have created the post of Content Manager, responsible for seeing a manuscript through from contract signature to physical form. Previously manuscripts were handed from department to department along the production chain. The new system will be more efficient, give greater clarity about roles, incorporates digital demands at the start of the process, and will give authors a single point of contact throughout the process.
Digital is increasingly central to Academic’s operations, a fact underscored by many of the initiatives mentioned above and by the success of Stahl Masterclass, an online set of educational courses covering the use of drugs for the treatment of mental disorder. Launched during the year, it marked the 20th anniversary of the Press working with Dr Stephen Stahl, the distinguished American authority on neuropsychopharmacology – and one of our most successful authors ever.
The coming year will see the launch of a particularly important and complex new digital investment, our Cambridge Core online platform, which will bring together our books and journals in a single home. This will make it much easier for a user to cross-refer from a book they are reading to relevant journal articles, and vice versa. The initiative follows extensive market research among readers to find out how we could improve their experience – a subject on which we keep a close and constant focus.
One of the many medical works published by Academic during the year was Time-Lapse Microscopy in In-Vitro Fertilization – an authoritative reference tool for embryologists, clinicians and others working in IVF laboratories. This innovative book, complete with an extensive online component, is one of the first resources to describe in detail the technique of digital time-lapse microscopy, a state-of-the-art analytical tool which is revolutionising the field of assisted reproduction. Edited by Marcos Meseguer, and written by a team of experts from across numerous clinical and scientific subspecialities, the book is a guide to all aspects of the technique. With full electronic access to all text, images, and over 180 high-definition video sequences, it provides an interactive and highly visual guide to the new technology and the wealth of detail it can reveal about human embryo development.
Open Access journal publishing continues to be an important growth area for the Press, both to meet the evolving needs of the academic community and to develop our reach in key subject areas. The past year has seen our best performance to date for Open Access books and journals, with more content published and increasing revenue from Open Access publication charges. We continue to work towards an ever greater adoption of Open Access models – supporting both the Gold route, which denotes content being made Open Access on the publisher’s website, usually through funding, and the free, but possibly embargoed, Green route where content is available through university repositories. We have expanded our roster of Open Access journals, including the recent announcements of Global Sustainability and the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, and we have converted several titles to a fully Gold Open Access model, such as the Annals of Glaciology. Our Open Access books programme has grown too, with new titles such as Global Volcanic Hazards and Risk and Industrial Agriculture and Ape Conservation.