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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 5 July 2022. In this issue:

‘Low value’ degrees and ‘highly skilled’ jobs, what next for humanities degrees?

The UK government is to stop funding degrees where 60% of students don’t end up in ‘highly skilled’ jobs within six months of graduation. As a direct result, Sheffield Hallam has announced that it is suspending its English Literature course for 2023/24.

University balance sheets are already on a knife edge. Student tuition fees account for 50% of the actual costs, and the UK government freeze on the current £9,250 annual fee (until at least 2024-25) means that the value of that income is sliding irrevocably backwards against inflation. The higher fees of international students are vital, and not subject to the freeze. Universities may be forced to offer more places to overseas students and fewer to UK ones, in order to balance the books.

Government funding of universities is a critical part of the mix, and if it becomes dependent on those ‘highly skilled’ jobs then the future of any humanities degrees in the UK looks bleak.

So what are the implications for publishers?

  1. There isn’t likely to be anything we can practically do beyond keeping up with media reports, paying attention to what academics tell us, and marketing sensitively. (Emailing literature professors at Sheffield Hallam about your new textbooks is not advised.)
  2. Now is probably not the time to sign up that multi-volume series for the academic humanities market.
  3. Keep under review potential new publishing models and formats (especially digital), and transition to open access. We need all viable options open to us to respond to a volatile market.
This article in The Guardian back in January 2021 has useful insights into the background to where we are today.

Our Academic Marketing Workshops look first at the trends, issues and challenges of the higher education market, and then at how our marketing should respond. Request to attend our next public course, or ask about a tailored in-company version.


ALPSP publishes an Open Access Agreement toolkit

This is a fantastic resource to support small independent publishers, libraries and consortia to set up Open Access agreements. Developed between cOAlition S (the organisation behind Plan S) and ALPSP, it comprises a report, a set of templates, and a detailed workflow. Although designed primarily for journals, this information will definitely be helpful for book publishers too.

Read more on the ALPSP website


The nonsense that is the ‘fit note’

In the past, if illness prevented you working you would need a sick note from your GP to prove your entitlement to sick pay. From this month, very sensibly, you can now get it from a pharmacist.

Less sensibly, you’ll be asking for a ‘fit note’ to prove that you are, ahem, unfit to work.

Who dreams up this nonsense? I’m all for putting a positive spin on things, but not when the meaning is entirely over-turned.

Referencing something negative is tricky when writing copy to which you want people to to respond. Remind them of a problem, or a depressing scenario, and they may move swiftly on without clicking. But it’s imperative that our copy is always clear and accurate too. How you achieve that balance is just one of the topics on our Copywriting Workshop. We have ONE place remaining on our 12 July open course if anyone would like to join us (just reply to this email, go on, be impulsive!). Or you can register your interest now on attending the next one (date TBC).

More about our Copywriting Workshop


Tip of the week: , I have something to tell you

This is not a typo. It’s the subject line of a (rather good) marketing email from a publisher.

It’s also the reason why you should never set up your email template to include a comma after the name in the salutation. Because if you don’t have a name in your subscriber database, you’ll just have a comma. Which is not a good look.

Our Email Marketing Workshop is full of tips like this and is a popular in-company training option.





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