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How to spot Ugly Black Ducklings: the next competitive frontiers in scholarly publishing

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This paper reviews events of SSP 2013 and AAUP 2013 within the context of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's notions of Black Swans (unexpected game changers) to anticipate the formation of competitive arenas (i.e. new models and revenue streams) for scholarly communications. It examines Tim O'Reilly's keynote address at SSP 2013, the advice of Michael Schrage from the opening Plenary at AAUP 2013, and Tim Sullivan's discussion of Harvard Business Publication's use of a topical blog network as new publishing platform to access global digital communications networks. The essay extrapolates from the case studies presented to overlay the strategies of successful practitioner presses and the advice of sought-after business consultants on the work of academic houses, to imagine the next competitive frontier(s) in scholarly publishing.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: October 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

    Learned Publishing articles are available free online to members of ALPSP and SSP.
    ALPSP members: log in to If you do not have a password contact
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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.

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