Assuming that this is indeed the case, and that a buyer can be found (which is far from certain in the current climate) the implications for the topography of the STMS industry are not insignificant. This is particularly thought-provoking in view of the fact that Springer could not unreasonably be said to have endeavoured to incorporate progressive elements into its strategy in recent times. Springer’s acquisition of BioMed Central underlined its continuing commitment to experimenting with open access publication models, and its support of STM social media initiatives such as citeulike have been generally well received.
What, then, is to be made of this development? Is it solely a function of the way that the business is currently being financed, or should it be interpreted as a symptomatic manifestation of broader strategic pressures being brought to bear on the industry?
Update (31/3/09): Springer’s CEO Derk Haank, speaking at UKSG09 yesterday, said that Springer was not for sale but that it was potentially looking for a third partner. According to the Twitter back-channel live tweets, it is Derk Haank’s belief that the scholarly publishing industry is about to enter a boring decade. If I am following the general thrust of the tweets that recorded this correctly, I believe that this observation is founded upon an assessment of the fact that the major players have made significant investments in the recent past which now need to be afforded time to develop and perform. This may well be my reading between the lines, however, and should be assessed accordingly.