R. Barthes on branding – the u press network—part 3 – the frame of reference for u presses – what do u presses sell and to whom?

Scholarly presses produce books and journals in many forms; e.g., digital, print, audio, databases. They work with many channel partners and vendors for distribution.

What do they sell?

Not books and journals. Or at least, not only books and journals. Books, journals, and all other market-facing products are, in fact, secondary business moves based on a primary sale of services. The sale occurs by quid pro quo under contract. The performance of which includes the production (and distribution) of the aforementioned market-facing products. Scholarly presses primarily sell publishing services

To whom?

Scholarly presses sell publishing services to scholars, experts, and researchers. U presses in particular segment the market (of authors) to serve humanities scholars, experts, and researchers. Many u presses also serve regional trade and special interest authors.

Importance – today

The Frame of Reference for u presses, therefore, is everything that allows these authors to publish their content; i.e., anything to offers those services or anything can be used as a substitute for those services. The participants within this Frame of Reference have changed drastically, over the last two decades; we’ve seen an explosion of competitors and alternates in the market-space. Many customers (authors) are faced with these alternative and competitive choices—many more than in years past.

New and improved performance

New publishing models (eBooks, databases) would be new, competitive offerings of performance to attract and maintain customers (authors) and revenue. As such, they would not constitute new business models. I.e., while the secondary performance may change, the primary model of selling or trading publishing services to scholars, experts, and researchers remains the same.

Caveat – new frame/s

In light of the recent explosion in competitors and alternates, the current frame of reference is potentially over-served. New frames could lead to new models, and new business models could attract new business and new revenue; but, new models would need to be extrapolated from current and emergent needs of the targeted customer base—or on a new or expanded customer base—and would have to be presented as an alternate to or in addition to the sale of publishing services.

POPs and PODs – based on the current Frame

Given the customer base and model above, the frame of references can be altered slightly or “tightened” to attract and maintain customers (authors) and revenue.

This tightening of focus is achieved by leveraging both Points of Parity and Points of Difference to best advantage; i.e., clearly defining and communicating the competitively distinct value proposition of publishing with u presses to the customers (authors). Subsequent posts under the R. Barthes heading address competitive positioning by sketching the leverage-ability of certain attributes based on the current frame.

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