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Commentary

April 7th, 2017

Suzanne Collier on surviving the fallout from book fairs


It has been a turbulent few years in some parts of the academic sector, but the publisher at one of the oldest seats of learning, Edinburgh University, has been rising to the challenges.

Like many fellow university publishers, Edinburgh has had to face up to falling budgets in many of the academic institutions it serves. That has put a squeeze on book and journal spending, but EUP’s head of sales and marketing, Anna Glazier, says sales have been well ahead of budget in the current financial year. Spread evenly across frontlist and backlist, print and digital, they show the advantage of having a broad rather than specialist academic list.

Journal sales have held up well too, and EUP is expanding rather than contracting here, having taken on two new titles this year with two more to follow in 2018. Monographs, a core of EUP’s business, have been strong, despite intermittent predictions that their days are numbered. And while some institutions continue to scale back their buying, there are signs that others, especially in the US, may be stabilising their budgets.

For a lot of publishers like EUP, international sales have had a boost from an unlikely source lately: Brexit. On balance, the UK’s vote to leave the European Union was greeted with dismay in academia, and there is still widespread concern about what it might mean in the long run for student numbers and research budgets. But some comfort has come from the dramatic weakening of the pound sterling that followed the Referendum last June. For institutions in Europe, the US and elsewhere, the dip in the exchange rate has made the prices of UK-published books and journals suddenly much more attractive.

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