Message From The CEO

2010

Although 2009 was a difficult year for the world’s economy, libraries and publishers rode out the storm. True, budgets suffered, but for libraries, the challenges remain technology and people: delivering research information to patrons wherever they are. And this will also be true for 2010.

Twitter, Facebook and a host of products have defined the Real-Time Web. This has not gone unnoticed by publishers and developers who are busy incorporating communication and social networking tools into their services to provide more personalized, efficient and dynamic knowledge flow. Used thoughtfully, these tools will enhance the delivery of information resources to patrons, reducing discovery times and keeping the library vital and essential.

The technology to watch in 2010 is the mobile web and the way handhelds, eBook readers and the iPhone will be used by librarians, publishers and patrons. The opportunities for librarians, publishers and the iGroup to work together to deliver products and to communicate needs, is an exciting challenge for the year ahead, as is insuring that intellectual property is respected.

While patrons are becoming smarter, many preferring to visit the library online rather than onsite, their sophistication cannot match the skills of librarians. But the race to keep abreast of new information discovery tools to enhance the library’s virtual presence and strengthen the engagement of patrons, is a never ending task for information professionals. But tackled with enthusiasm, the library will remain at the centre of intellectual life and valued by all stakeholders.

On behalf of the iGroup, I wish our customers and publishers a rewarding 2010.

2009

It has been 25 years since Book Promotion and Service, the oldest company in iGroup (Asia-Pacific), was incorporated in Thailand. In that time we have grown to become a leading provider of research information to the region; a multi-national, multi-ethnic entity with over 450 employees and offices ranging from India in the west to Japan and New Zealand in the east.

As we celebrate our silver anniversary and I look back over the past two and a half decades, I marvel at the rapid changes that have shaped academic publishing. To think that in such a comparatively short time we have gone from printed abstracts and indexes – some even packaged with magnifying glasses to make the tiny print legible! – to publications that have been reborn on CD-ROM, DVD, hard disc, institutional networks, the Internet and, ever more increasingly, on handheld devices.

Looking forward to the next quarter century, I wonder if we’ll even be buying collections of academic books and journals because the boundaries between them and the large databases are already disappearing. We must also not forget the current climate of consolidation. Information is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands through increasingly frequent mergers and acquisitions in the publishing industry.

In addition to the distribution of electronic materials, iGroup continues to publish and distribute print books and provide RFID technologies to help libraries keep track of their vast collections. We are also keen to preserve the printed word and today offer state-of-the-art services to digitize books – particularly old and fragile manuscripts to ensure that these treasures of information last throughout time.

In a period of such change it has sometimes been difficult for iGroup to anticipate the direction of the academic publishing industry. However, the exciting pace of evolution within the industry has certainly encouraged us to listen to and learn from our customers so that we are better about to meet their needs as we move forward together.

I’d like to thank all of our customers and partners for their help, advice and support over the years, iGroup has built valuable and long-standing relationships with many of you and we look forward to continued collaboration as we learn together in the decades to come.

2008

Mergers change the face of business and the information industry is no exception. When I started working with publishers 20 years ago, there were many to choose from. But in the last ten years they’ve been merged, and in some cases disappeared.

While the consolidation of the publishing world into a few huge publishers is viewed with anxiety by many librarians and businesses, size does have advantages. While the iGroup has brought you many e-journal collections, e-books have lagged behind. But 2008 I predict, will be the year of the e-book. Now the back catalogues of many publishers are largely in the hands of the big few, meaning that e-books can be sliced and mixed, linked and transformed into entirely new products at reasonable prices and the technology to read them is getting better and better.

This will be good news for many libraries, but especially for those in India and China, where the transformation of collections from print to digital is a priority for libraries. The iGroup has been present in India for several years in partnership with Balani Infotech. Soon it will be joined by a new iGroup office, which will expand our ability to offer local sales and support services to our fast growing base of customers and prospects in the subcontinent. We have also opened an iGroup representative office in Tokyo, which I am particularly excited about. I have always wanted the iGroup to have a presence in Japan.

An exciting project that we’ve recently embarked upon is The Academy of Asian scholars. Our aim is to help bridge the relationship between scholarly societies and Asian scholars.

From a technology perspective, as I look back on 2007 and forward to 2008, it’s exciting to see the changes that are looming on the horizon. There’s been a lot of talk this past year about Web 2.0. Although many of the technologies incorporated within Web 2.0 have been around for a while, such as wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, etc., it does now seem that theu are being utilized more and more and the days of many-to-many publishing are well and truly upon us.

I would like to thank our customers, publishers and iGroup colleagues for colleagues for taking us such a long way in the last 20 years. From a very small company with a vision, we are now a leading provider of research information in the Asia-Pacific region. To you all, I wish you a happy 2008.

2007

The changes in the information industry are so rapid that keeping abreast of them is difficult for even the most well travelled publisher or blogging librarian.

Who would have guessed a year ago that Google’s mission to preserve and supply the world’s information and knowledge would gain such momentum and expand into video?

The iGroup has always recognized that training and conferences increase skills and knowledge and keep us up to date. During 2006 we sponsored Dr. Paul Gandel, VP for Information Technology and Services at Syracuse University, to facilitate the 4th Annual Library Leadership Institute held in Nansha, China. The iGroup is also working with CAVAL in Melbourne on benchmarking for Asian libraries. Libraries collect statistics but how can they be used and compared to improve library services and argue for better funding? The work which CAVAL is doing with several Asian university libraries will help answer these questions

In 2007 iGroup will be sponsoring more distinguished speakers to our region. I look forward to meeting you at the events and conferences we support and use this occasion to wish you a peaceful and fulfilling 2007.

2006

2005 was one of the most eventful years ever in science publishing and 2006 will not be far behind. In many cases librarians have been catalysts for change.

The Open Access movement has seen librarians pushing for greater access to published papers resulting from government research grants. The move towards institutional repositories for faculty to post their articles and research has also been championed by libraries. As have the policy changes made by publishers to make their journals more available to the public. Books though, have been left behind, but for not much longer. While journals have adapted themselves very well to the internet, books are still books. But a growing number of publishers are listening to librarians when they say, “why can’t books be more like journals?” In 2006 I’m certain that we’ll see publishers providing options to buy parts of books instead of the whole; that mathematical tables and graphs will become interactive; and that we’ll have to come up with a new definition for the book.

The iGroup is working with companies at the cutting edge of digital publishing. We’ll be bringing to our valued customers the new products and services, which will shape the way the librarians, faculty, health workers and researchers use these new products.

I wish you all peaceful and fulfilling 2006.

2005

The world of publishing and libraries is changing faster than ever. E-Journal publishers in particular have to adapt to the growing number of Open Access advocates. Should published science research be more widely available and at little or no cost? Will ‘author pays to publish’ models supplant traditional publishing? Or will these models co-exist? 2004 saw these questions thrust center stage in debates and official enquiries in the United States, United Kingdom and soon, the European Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, popular services such as Google and Amazon, are adding features that are usually found in academic databases and e-resources. Search Inside the Book at Amazon.com allows visitors to search millions of published pages. Google is now referencing the full text content of leading society and mainstream publishers. And the British Amazon store has added bibliographic details of more than 2.5 million books courtesy of the British Library.

Taken together, these developments show that the established business models are changing. Publishers are rethinking both the way they publish and the way they offer their content. Technology and the expectations of customers are pushing content owners to offer their databases and E-Journals in new and different ways. It’s clear that the scientific journal as we know it will be a very different medium a couple of years from now.

These transitions inspire the iGroup to adapt to this changing world of research information and to seek out new products and services. In 2005 we will announce new partnerships with cutting edge E-Journal publishers and companies specializing in e-learning tools. We also foresee that ‘older’ forms of information, patents in particular, will be making a comeback in new and exciting ways that only the latest technologies can make happen.

In the last 20 years iGroup companies have worked closely with publishers and librarians to bring the very best and latest e-resources to libraries in the Asia-Pacific region. To the old and new publishers who have stood by us, and to our customers many of whom we have served for more than fifteen years, thank you for believing in us. To my talented colleagues in iGroup scattered throughout Asia, your skills have helped us become the leading distributor of academic e-resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

I wish you all a happy 2005.


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