John Sheehy

Revenue Diversification for Scholarly Publishing

It is no secret that many publishing markets we serve are seeing declining revenues of traditional product offerings. For example, the newspaper industry in the United States alone has seen 2,800 newspapers disappear in the last 20 years. That was not a typo—2,800! In the business-to-business space, the collapse of advertising revenue continues to threaten well established publishers’ models. And in the scholarly market? Open access is taking its toll along with emerging AI capabilities poised to upend the status quo.

What strategies does AdvantageCS see publishers making to adapt and survive? How is the Advantage platform facilitating those strategies? Looking at the scholarly market can provide an important perspective for one strategy being employed. 

Simply, revenue diversification.

In the early days of scholarly publishers using Advantage, most of the products fell into two distinct categories: print subscriptions and physical books. And then, around 20 years ago, Advantage started supporting digital subscriptions and our scholarly clients were quick to implement those features. However, those digital subscriptions were just online replicas of the print subscriptions. 

Moving beyond the basics, let’s look at revenue models that our clients have adopted. These models often have an integration component as well in terms of distribution—content systems like Silverchair for example, or distributors like OverDrive for eBooks.

Time-based subscriptions

  • Customers now have access to a wide variety of content over a period of time—journals, databases, archives, and more.

Institutional sales

  • A key revenue generator that requires a dynamic model to ensure sophisticated contracts involving hundreds of content areas to access with hundreds of participating customers with varied access within the content. Not only does Advantage maintain that access model, but also handles all of the necessary pricing and financial handling.


  • More important than ever is to offer customers a mix of content or collections instead of products siloed by format or division. Our clients have started bundling not only digital and print content, but also different mixes of digital content and the inclusion of physical or eBooks. Advantage allows near limitless mix-and-match capabilities as our clients find the magical mix.


  • Many scholarly publishers have offered memberships with the content often being provided as an afterthought. The membership and publishing divisions are often not quite in sync with each other either in terms of customer, product, pricing, and marketing strategies. Advantage supports those differing models in a single system offering important efficiencies and synergies.

Pay per view / Tokens

  • Pay per view and token-based models were popular in the mid-2000’s but ultimately failed to take off as publishers hoped. Today, these models are deployed with more care and have had an additive effect to revenue rather than a transformative one.


  • The eBook market is an important aspect of scholarly publishing even though it has largely stagnated. However, while the physical book market declines (at a slower pace now), eBooks are a critical aspect of distributing content. 

Read & Publish

  • Since 2020, the Read & Publish model has accelerated with open access (OA) and author processing charges (APC). The model continues to evolve and will likely grow as publishers move to service-based products (and away from APCs) to supplement declining revenue in other areas. Advantage supports this model through sophisticated contract construction and draw-down activities as services are utilized.

Advantage supports these models (and others) in ways that allow our clients to quickly get them up and running. This gives our clients a clear path to market for launching new products and reduced timelines to run product experiments. By embracing diverse revenue streams and forward-thinking models, institutions can thrive in an ever-evolving landscape with the support of Advantage. As we look ahead, AdvantageCS continues to develop support for emerging models through close collaboration with our partners and a close eye on the market.

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