Just before the start of the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair, Publishing Technology promoted chief technology officer David Montgomery to CEO. And, in an eventful start to his tenure, the company has announced a number of major changes—including a corporate rebranding, to Ingenta. We caught up with Montgomery ahead of what he says will be a very busy London Book Fair.
So, to begin, you’ve had about half a year at the helm now; how about a quick update?
It’s been a busy year! I’ve been in the role of CEO for six months now, and we’ve been working hard to strengthen and add value to our products and services, and we’ve entered into reciprocal arrangements with a number of key partners to amplify our product range. It’s a really exciting time to be steering the ship.
The big news, of course, is the rebranding of Publishing Technology to Ingenta. Can you tell us about that move?
We made the decision to rebrand for a number of reasons. First, the name Publishing Technology had always been difficult for us to leverage. Although highly practical in a Ronseal “does what it says on the tin” sort of way, it wasn’t unique and wasn’t getting any deeper traction in the market as a result. Secondly, the name felt a little too niche to me. Our core market will always remain in publishing, but the name Ingenta allows us to explore new verticals and territories simply by having a name that isn’t quite so restrictive.
Of course, it is not just a rebrand—there are some new products and directions for the business, too, for example, Ingenta Advertising. Why advertising?
Right from the start, it was clear to me there was an opportunity for Ingenta to offer a solution that more robustly supports and manages advertising business models. Though my background is in media publishing—newspapers and magazines mostly—trade and scholarly publishers work in much the same way, in the sense that they all have to get more creative to generate revenue. Ingenta Advertising is a packaged, browser-based multimedia advertising, CRM, and sales-management platform that enables publishers to sell and track digital and print ads in a single system. And crucially, it completes our product range, enabling us to provide technology to support all of a customer’s content needs.
Let’s talk about some of the various sectors and the challenges they face—let’s start with academic and scholarly publishing. What trends do you see there?
Academic publishing is facing challenges as both the behavior of buyers and readers changes, and the funding environment shifts. Because of that, I think there will be a few innovations this year. Big journal brands will go deeper into open-access publishing to realize the commercial value from the many, many articles they reject every year. Academic publishers will reexamine the viability of their publishing platforms, challenging the industry’s reliance on the PDF as new, richer media types become available. And, as with trade publishing, discoverability is a hot topic, so I expect we will see journals offering tools that help separate the wheat from the chaff, such as Altmetric, which aggregates conversations that surround a piece of content on social media.
In trade publishing, a big question has been the decline of e-books sales for the major publishers, and an uptick in print. What’s your take?
One reason why trade publishers reported stronger print sales in 2015 could be the reintroduction of agency pricing. Publishers now have greater control over the price of their e-books and thus are raising the price of e-books to a level perhaps less enticing to consumers. But even if the major trade publishers are selling fewer e-books, it doesn’t follow that the overall digital book market is shrinking. It could just mean that the major publishers’ releases now account for a smaller portion of the total market. Author Earnings, for example, has made the very interesting claim that 45% of books sold on Amazon’s Kindle store are not published by traditional publishers. And that means that there isn’t just one book market anymore, but two: one dominated by major publishers, and a second made up of e-books driven by content often sold at substantially lower prices than the product produced by traditional publishers.
Technology is such a moving target—what advice would you offer publishers who want to get the most out of technology for their money?
It seems so simple, but my advice is to always think 10 steps ahead. Understand your digital strategy and where it will take you in the future, and be sure to look for technology that’s ahead of the curve to safeguard your investment. And if you’re not sure what the future holds, find technology partners who can help you navigate a path, rather than presuming that your systems support your products and business needs based on what you’re delivering right now.