Brexit, Bitcoin and the influence of seminal works in Springer Nature’s Economics & Finance eBook Collection: An interview with Rachel Sangster
Global research in economics and finance has never been more dynamic. As the implications of the last economic crisis continue to impact almost every corner of the globe and many aspects of our lives, the need for new approaches to fast-changing and often fragile economic climates is ever more pressing.
2018 marked Macmillan’s 175th anniversary and here, Head of Economics and Finance at Palgrave Macmillan (an imprint of Springer Nature), Rachel Sangster, talks about how the Economics & Finance eBook collection balances emerging trends and experimental theories with longstanding expertise from renowned authors and leading global institutional partners.
What’s the readership of the Economics & Finance eBook collection and have you seen this change?
Our primary readership is very much academic, and this is where the programme’s heritage lies - with students, academics, researchers, and individuals teaching courses on these subjects. However, as our lists have evolved, and our products have diversified, we’re seeing a growing readership of practitioners, policymakers and professionals.
Monographs and Contributed Volumes seem to be the most prominent eBook formats in this collection. Is there a reason for this and do you expect other formats to become more popular in future?
That’s certainly true. Academic libraries represent our biggest group of customers and scholarly content is what their faculty and researchers seek, so we need to support that with our publishing formats. Scholarly monographs and contributed volumes allow for broader, interdisciplinary discussions that the more technical journals can’t accommodate, so there’s still very much a place in the academic research community for this format. Textbooks are becoming more prominent and we’re now able to offer features such as embedded video streamed in-line with chapter text in HTML versions. Our handbooks, which present overarching perspectives of subjects edited by leading experts, are also growing in popularity with students, researchers and practitioners.
Has demand for digital formats overtaken print in the Economics & Finance eBook collection?
Print is still the primary format for most scholars of Economics & Finance, but the digital format is growing in popularity. Online usage of the Economics & Finance Collection increased 39% from 2017-2018. The greatest advocates of the digital product are often students - they like the individual chapter download option as it means they’re free to pick and choose content according to their area of focus. Handbooks and textbooks are particularly student-friendly in this respect. Our professional Finance books – especially in FinTech – have also seen tremendous online usage and I think readers of these titles are very comfortable with digital books.
What are the prominent themes and emerging topics that will characterise the collection in 2019?
The 2019 collection will continue to respond to the fallout from the 2007-08 financial crisis, as well as Brexit, Sustainability, Asian Economics and FinTech. Regional Economics remains an important theme for the collection, as does Development Economics, History of Economic Thought and Economic History. Emerging topics covered will include Maritime Economics and Finance Regulation. And we’re delighted to announce that new content from The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics features – the Third Edition published in January 2018, with 3,000+ chapters and contributions from 36 Nobel Laureates.
What are some popular titles in this collection and are there any subject areas or titles that surprised you with their popularity?
Fintech features heavily at the top of the most downloaded titles, with books such as The Future of Fintech and After Brexit consistently sitting in the top ten throughout 2018. Nudge Theory in Action was heavily downloaded, helped by the Nobel Prize in Economic Science being awarded to a behavioural economist in 2017, and the fact that it also won a CHOICE Outstanding Title award. Risk management along with banking crises are also standout themes, and books in these areas will continue to be in high-demand over the next few years as the industry continues to respond to outcomes of the global financial crisis. The surprise for me was Principles of Economics by Alfred Marshall which was one of the most downloaded titles last year. This is a classic text, so we expected it to be well-read, but it published back in 2013 and serves as another example of the value that today’s economists continue to place on pioneering works.
Could you talk about the profiles of some of your authors, how the commissioning process works and what role institutions such as the International Economic Association play in the collection?
We’re incredibly proud of the history and prestige of our authors. We have published icons ranging from Alfred Marshall, Arthur Pigou, Joan Robinson and John Maynard Keynes, and we continue to publish work from the most noted scholars in the field, including Cass Sunstein, Kaushik Basu (former Chief Economist for the World Bank), Robert Skidelsky and Nobel prize winners Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Ronald Coase amongst others, as well as some of the most persuasive emerging stars in research today.
Our relationship with the International Economic Association (IEA) extends over more than 50 years and this year we’ve signed up a new series with the renowned Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which will see some exciting new books published by top experts from the Austrian School of Economics.
How significant are book archives in Economics & Finance?
Being able to draw on original theory and practice is a fundamental element behind much of today’s new economic research and thinking, so archive titles (pre-2005 copy right years) have an important place in our research collections. We were delighted to be able to digitise the full archive of IEA conference volumes going right back to the 1950s, and we can see from Bookmetrix that these books are actively being downloaded. The shelf-life for most of our books (aside from fast-moving topics such as regulation or technology) is relatively long.
How do you see the Economics & Finance eBook collection evolving over the next 5+ years in relation to book formats, publishing technology and the way readers interact with titles in the collection?
I think we’ll likely publish more textbooks and handbooks, driven by reader demand. We’ll also maintain our focus on traditional monographs, contributed volumes, Pivots and professional titles. At Springer Nature we strive to be an inclusive publisher in terms of subject areas coming from the Palgrave Macmillan imprint. We have great strengths in macro- and micro-economics, political economy, development economics and history of economics and finance, but we’re keen to represent new and emerging areas. Applied economics (such as agricultural economics, environmental economics, education economics etc), Fintech and more interdisciplinary subfields will continue to be a feature of our growth.
I see lots of opportunities for embedding more digital and interactive features into Economics & Finance eBooks over the next few years. I also see Bookmetrix evolving into a broader tool for authors and readers wanting to evaluate the relevance and importance of a book or collection using the Collection Citation Performance (CCP) indicator. There’s an awful lot of thought and research being applied to the evolution of the scholarly book as we speak. How it will look, how it will be read and how its impact will be measured in future are all questions being explored. Watch this space!