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Arnoud de Kemp APE Berlin

Everyone is talking about open access, open science and big data - accompanied by big changes for the academic publishing industry. These trends and challenges were put in the spotlight at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019 and will play a key role in the next years for academic publishers worldwide. Time for an interview with Arnoud de Kemp, organiser of the APE conference in Berlin.


Could you please describe your job and your connection to Frankfurter Buchmesse and the publishing industry?

I worked all my life in the publishing industry and the Frankfurt Book Fair has been a must from the very beginning. I did not really count, but I must have been there almost 50 times. 

How has the APE Conference and the academic publishing industry evolved since APE’s inception in 2006?

The APE Conferences started in 2006 after the Open Access Declarations from Soros and the Max Planck Foundation. It was clear to me that something really new was going to happen, which needed wise counsel and the involvement of all stakeholders in academic publishing. Over the years we have been able to guide the discussions and by now we see a much better understanding of new roles, new business models, certainly also new technology, but we also see new publishers. Not all new companies are to be trusted. That is why a list of predatory publishers is being kept. 

How do you see the academic publishing industry developing during the next five years - what will be the biggest trends and challenges?

Open Access will become normal. Data publishing will grow fast. Big will become even bigger. Small and medium sized publishers, as well as society publishers, do not have the money and staff to set up and maintain platforms or create digital workflows. A whole range of so-called facilitators is jumping in here. The output of scientific publishing as a whole will be growing fast as more and more papers and books will be written, that needs to be published. Digital publishing does not have any physical barriers like printed books or journals and the Cloud is endless. The output of China is already overwhelming and we see that Chinese publishers are now taking over the first European publisher. Large publishers like Elsevier and Springer Nature start to offer statistics and analytics in addition to publishing. 


APE 2019 brought up a lot of burning questions and lively debates on the future of academic publishing. Which topics will set the tone in academic publishing in 2020?

Main topics at APE 2020 will be: Open Scholarship, Open Science, Open Research Data, the stronger role of funders, measuring value in the research cycle, SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), the new DEALs, the impact of Open Science on libraries, Open Books etc. The APE 2020 Pre-Conference is extremely important as we devote a whole day to PEOPLE: learning, training, discovering talents, coaching, planning, change management. Several publishers will open the Box and explain what they are doing for and with their human resources. 

How do you see the role of Frankfurter Buchmesse within the academic publishing industry?

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the showplace of the industry. Here we come together to show our new products and services, to review developments, to organize meetings. To me the meeting part is most important.

​​​​​​​What would be your most amazing experience at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020?

In 2020 I hope to have more time to look for art books and new novels, to visit the Canadian exhibition, to listen to more presentations and discussions. As always a discovery tour. The most amazing part is to see so many friends.


APE 2020 will be held on 14-15 January 2020 in the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The Pre-Conference will be held on 13 January in hotel NH Collection Berlin Mitte. in a new window). All conferences so far were overbooked. 


Further interviews and articles about academic publishing at Frankfurter Buchmesse and beyond can be found here(opens in a new window).