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Hot Topics! Exploring Energy

Hot Topics! is a new section for LibraryZone. In each issue we will feature new initiatives that Springer is working on in response to market needs. Our first article explores the energy market. We spoke to Liesbeth Mol, Editorial Director Physical Sciences / Engineering and Anthony Doyle, Senior Editor Engineering, about their work and Springer’s response to information needs in this area.

We understand that Springer is exploring the energy market. What factors influenced this decision?  

Everyone is now aware of the increasing governmental focus on climate change mitigation and the efforts being put into developing new technologies as part of limiting our society’s energy usage. In 2009, the National Science Foundation reported that in the United States alone, public funding for energy research had risen from $1.4bn in 2003 to $2.5bn by 2009. Overall the UN records that $155bn investment was made in 2008 in sustainable energy generation, compared with $110bn for gas and coal.
The following year Springer held the first company-wide Global Publishing Conference (GPC) in the Black Forest, Germany, where editors publishing in all subject areas could meet and find out how they could work together to develop Springer’s publishing, irrespective of traditional divides between disciplines. Ahead of the meeting, energy was identified as a key interdisciplinary area where editors could collaborate to create an acquisitions plan to develop our publishing. Liesbeth Mol, editorial director for physics, organized the initial workshop and was instrumental in promoting this interdisciplinary initiative, building and maintaining bridges with other publishing groups and providing a pivotal supporting role during its progress.
It is important to note that at the GPC we were already aware that Springer had key strengths in energy that could be built upon; for example, in 2009, we published the largest numbers of books in energy subjects. This gave us a great head-start over our competitors, ensuring that as energy becomes increasingly more important in future years, Springer will be the leading publisher. Our challenge since the meeting has been to set up working arrangements between colleagues in different departments and to ensure that the outside world is aware of our already strong but growing presence in energy. We were able to do this through the creation of an “Energy Team” of editors and editorial directors from different Springer GPUs to develop and launch new products in energy subjects.

In recent years, public interest in alternative energy has become much more mainstream (hybrid cars, solar panels, wind farms) has this had any impact on the academic discussion?  

The hugely topical issues around energy generation, energy efficiency and climate change has created a great interest and debate in public and political circles. This is one of the reasons why research bodies have been directed by governments to devote more resources to energy research. In addition, many of our authors feel a duty to communicate with the population at large as well as their academic peers. Several of our books reflect this trend and have been noted in the mainstream press and general readership. The increasing market penetration of commercial renewable technology is also increasing interest in the area amongst the public and also corporate readers.

Who are the key users in this market? What are their needs and how will Springer address these? 

The exciting thing about energy is that the research in it and therefore the readers of Springer’s books and journals come from many academic disciplines, including the physical sciences, earth sciences, political issues and economics. Like all academics and researchers, they want to have instant access to as wide as possible a body of knowledge. The licensing success of Springer’s eBook collections and journals allow these people to get access to our world-leading energy program in a way not possible before. Of course, as new energy technology is being commercialised, we have another potential readership in industry - amongst engineering contractors and in the manufacturing and oil & gas sectors. Springer’s recent extra focus on corporate licensing will help get our content to these readers too.

What product(s) are available, or will be available for this market? What are their key features and benefits?  

Springer already had the largest collection of books in energy subjects and since the GPC, renewed acquisition efforts have meant that this collection has now grown to more than 270 available titles. To increase the visibility of these titles and our other energy content, we have set up Springer Energy on springer.com: www.springer.com/energy.
During 2011 we will further expand our content offering in energy-related subjects with the introduction of a new series, Lecture Notes in Energy, as well as new SpringerBriefs in Energy. We are also launching open access journal Global Energy under our SpringerOpen publishing programme, which is due to be published mid-2011.

Have you faced any particular challenges in addressing this market? What were they and how have they been overcome? 

Our key challenge was to find ways of working collaboratively to present a combined approach to customers that demonstrated the strength of our energy content. We already had much of the best content but it was spread across our subject list and contributed to separately by editors in different Springer departments. To overcome this, we set up an Energy Working Group which comprised of editors from many disciplines. This has been a particularly rewarding process in that all of the new interdisciplinary product lines, the lecture notes, the briefs and the SpringerOpen journal have been developed as a result of this collaboration.
We are also particularly grateful to our marketing colleagues who have provided excellent support in setting up the new Springer Energy webpages and running marketing campaigns to raise awareness amongst all of our customers that are interested in energy subjects. We look forward to continuing to work with all of our colleagues to ensure that Springer maintains its position as THE publisher in this field.
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