TOC Follow-up Case Study: Digitizing Emerald’s Backlist


In June 2007, Emerald Group Publishing signed an agreement with the British Library to digitize Emerald’s entire backlist of 50,000 journal articles. Having attended the 2007 TOC workshop “Digitizing Your Backlist,” they were determined to learn from the experiences of Thompson and ensure that the project ran smoothly.

The salient points mentioned in the 2007 workshop were:

  • The need for an accurate inventory of content.
  • The importance of permissions when digitizing archived content.
  • Branding strategy: why publishers need to be clear that this is a backfile so users do not feel disappointed about just receiving PDF files.
  • The project manager does not have to be a technical expert but must be clearly aware of technical implications and have the ability to turn queries around quickly.
  • Engaging your team is essential and there must be a process in place for escalation issues if team members are underperforming.

These issues were all considered as Emerald put together its project team and established agreements with the British Library.

In this presentation Emerald will share their experiences of project managing the digitization, putting together effective marketing strategies, and implementing this initiative in a very short space of time (work started in July 2007 and they anticipate a launch date of January 2008).

Specifically, this talk will look at:

  • How Emerald extended contract negotiations to ensure that the content inventory was accurate for both parties.
  • Putting together the project team (including the appointment of two project managers, one technical and one non-technical).
  • Problems encountered and how they overcame them (communications issues with the British Library and their partners overseas).
  • Branding and marketing the backfiles product and how it opened up new business model opportunities. For example, Emerald is preparing to offer customers the opportunity to purchase other “slices” of content published prior to the start of their subscription period, thus providing them with access in perpetuity to all Emerald articles from 1899 to the present.
  • Incidents relating to permissions and how they communicated this initiative to their existing author community.
Photo of Anna Torrance

Anna Torrance

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Since 2001, Anna has worked at Emerald Group Publishing. Starting her career as a writer, she has 4 years of editorial experience as a Publisher and more recently, has recruited a team of product managers to oversee the promotion and development of Emerald’s online products. Anna took on the role of product and project manager for the Backfiles digitisation initiative in June 2007.

Before moving into publishing, Anna worked for UK bank Halifax in the Share Dealing Division.


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