How marketing eBooks to librarians helps authors

The Source
By: Scott Epstein, Wed Jul 31 2019
Scott Epstein

Author: Scott Epstein

Get every book we publish into every relevant research library in the world so that every one who needs it can find it—that’s the mission we’ve given ourselves at Springer Nature. Everything we do in our books program revolves around that.

That’s the driving reason behind our e-first way of publishing scholarly books. We publish in PDF and ePub and HTML (in addition, of course, to print—and our print-on-demand MyCopy service), and we never restrict book usage—we’ve always had a no-DRM policy. We also collect all our books into collections*, which can help make it easy for librarians to add our books to their collections (once a library buys one of our books, they have it forever). And even as people report that the print books in the library don’t get used, usage data show that Springer Nature eBooks do get used—they reported over half a billion chapter downloads in 2018. 

What does this mean for individual book authors? It means we work really hard to get these eBooks into all those libraries. We have two global marketing teams working hard to promote these packages and the books in them to research librarians. When we at Springer Nature look at book marketing, this is where we put a lot of our promotional efforts. 

books_02 © Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
To get a broader sense of what this means—and what this means for book authors—I recently sat down with Bob Boissy, Director of Account Development, and Jason Marcakis, Vice President of Institutional Sales and Marketing to talk about eBooks outreach to librarians. Here’s some of what we discussed. 

What kinds of things does Springer Nature do to reach out to librarians about our books? 

Bob Boissy: [W]e have many campaign angles including promotion of textbooks and reference works in packages, promotion of specific subject packages to specific schools, and of course our direct work with [library] consortia heads…

Everything we do supports renewal and new sales, and we are often on the road working with sales… We emphasize both usage and denials data to promote renewals and new sales of packages. We work out any problems with the discovery layer or access to make sure use of eBooks remains high. We help libraries promote our content by working cooperatively with them on campus visibility. We conduct events at libraries for students and faculty. 

We frequently speak at conferences with librarians. In fact I [had] a lunch presentation [on June 22, 2019] with the Director of the Library at [the] University of Denver at the American Libraries Association Conference. The topic [was] curriculum collection development, and [featured] Springer eBooks. 

Can I ask what kinds of libraries and consortia you reach out to? 

BB: What is remarkable about [our list of library accounts] is that it includes literally every consortium and academic library in the U.S./Canada of any size that could be a prospect for eBooks. It also includes government departments who are prospects and clients.

What sorts of activities do you do to support Springer and Palgrave books, that authors (and other researchers) might not see? 

Jason Marcakis: There are a number of institutional marketing activities that our team drives in an effort to increase market penetration, product awareness and customer perception for our eBook program. This includes: 

  • Customer Engagement: All customer engagement events including Library Advisory Boards, Summits and Roadshows are developed hand in hand with the regional sales for the specific region. These events always feature eBooks to varying capacities depending on sales feedback. During these sessions, internal attendees such as Wouter van der Velde or Henning Shoenenberger will present the latest and greatest regarding our eBook packages and the technology behind them. 
  • Content Marketing: Includes all dynamic and automated lead generation eMail campaigns. Aside from lead generation, the team also oversees the Librarian Alerts newsletter which highlights the latest product developments that would be of interest to librarians including MARC record information and product developments. All content including lead generation activity landing pages, etc can be found under the recently relaunched (and better than ever) librarian site on

BB: When we go to library conferences we see multiple clients per conference. eBooks are on the agenda of 100% of our calls. This is standard practice for licensing activity. We upsell if there are gaps in holdings. We sell eBook archives. We sell new packages like Intelligent Technologies and Robotics, and we use new business models like evidence based acquisitions (EBA) where necessary. EBA is a 1 year paid trial of selected packages followed by selection of individual titles or packages after use data is gathered. Our eBooks are known worldwide in scholarly and research circles.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that our book authors should know about how we market their books? 

BB: We do face challenges of course. One challenge is that some libraries definitely prefer to buy their eBooks one at a time (so called pick and choose). While we feel this is a poor idea for the world’s largest eBook publisher’s content where the lowest unit prices can only be offered through packages, we do now offer the EBA model to hold outs.

I will say our campaign for smaller market prospect clients to interest them in curating our open access eBooks (720 titles as of today), as a foot in the door for future eBooks sales, was wildly successful in 2018, with over 350 clients asking for a list of these titles and MARC records. If they like the results they see with the open access eBooks, we stand a better chance of making new package sales with them… 

I will finish with this—any scholarly author who wishes to understand the situation with communications from Springer Nature to their library regarding eBooks need only consult their local electronic resources librarian. They will hear that our eBooks are well known and well liked, with perhaps a small grumble about our emphasis on package sales by some.


I’d like to thank both Bob and Jason for their time, and for the look under the hood of how Springer Nature works to get our books into as many libraries as we can. 

*Librarians can also “pick and choose” individual books. 

Scott Epstein

Author: Scott Epstein

Before moving to Author Experience and Services, Scott Epstein marketed journals and books across all of Springer Nature, including Springer’s materials science and physics books and journals, and BMC and SpringerOpen’s largest math and materials science journals.