In the latest webinar of our #ReferenceStrategy series, Mission Bell Media founder and CEO Rolf Janke gave an insider’s view of how decisions are made in the reference publishing world, and what’s needed for the industry to thrive. Rolf noted that too much time has been spent going back and forth with discussions of format, when what reference really needs right now is a commitment to producing quality, authoritative content.
Fortitude: In today’s stark economic climate, the reference publishing industry has come under a great deal of scrutiny: profits and revenues are down, free content is available via the internet, and a culture of low risk, mediocre consensus-following is pervasive. It takes confidence, passion and fortitude to patiently navigate ever-changing format paradigms. Following the industry consensus rather than charting a course that best represents your editorial values is the surest way to slip into irrelevance.
Leadership: “Be different, not better.” It’s easy to slip into the pattern of incremental improvements to existing strategies, but part of the reason reference publishing finds itself in its current challenging state is exactly this climate of low risk behavior where yesterday’s best practices are written in stone. Reference needs publishers who are willing to take a leadership stance, to identify what is is that they do best and invest in themselves in order to create the best, most authoritative content possible. This extends beyond topic selection and content into innovative marketing campaigns, creative use of technology and new business models.
Passion: Many reference publishers have fallen by the wayside in the past 10-15 years; those who are still around are because they’re able to channel their passion for creating authoritative content. And that passion goes a long way, because without sharing it with librarians, how can a publisher expect them to passionately advocate for purchasing their content? One of Rolf’s keys for kindling and stoking that passion is an outlook that embraces the small victories. The days of winning a Dartmouth Medal for your 8-volume set and watching your sales skyrocket have passed; today’s victories are the aggregate of several smaller wins put together. Rolf’s example of a small victory to be embraced by all is Credo’s Publisher and Subject Collections. These are a win for the publishers who get to see their content packaged in a way that libraries can get excited about, and it’s a win for librarians who might not have the budget for the larger collections, but are still seeking small, specific and affordable ways to build their collection.
Watch the full webinar recording here, and download the slides here. Credo is happy to offer Mission Bell Media titles in our Leadership Subject Collection and Mission Bell Media Publisher Collection. And let’s keep the conversation going in the meantime using the hashtag #ReferenceStrategy!
Up next in the #ReferenceStrategy series, join us Tuesday, October 27 at 3:30 PM ET as Gardner-Webb University librarians Natalie Bishop and Laurie Baumgardner present: Inform, Expand, and Focus: Using the Concept of Pre-Research in Information Literacy Instruction.