How digital transformation works at a mid-sized academic publishing house
De Gruyter, an academic publisher with a particularly strong tradition in humanities book publishing, was originally founded in 1749. In 2019, faced with an industry undergoing radical changes, the publisher decided to overhaul its complete technological infrastructure and become a fully digital business. In just 13 months (and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic), De Gruyter developed its own cloud-based digital platform degruyter.com with new software partner 67 Bricks as the foundation of the company’s digital transformation. The platform launched successfully in February 2021. It hosts 7TB of academic content, over 120.000 books and 750.000 journal articles from De Gruyter, imprints like Birkhauser, Mouton or Oldenbourg, and publisher partners like Transcript, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard or Stanford University Press. Around 2 million monthly users now access this content on a site that is 600 times faster than De Gruyter's old website, more stable and more secure.
But launching the first iteration of its new platform was just the beginning of a longer journey for the publishing house. The challenge now lies in transforming a whole company culture along with time-honored ways of working to meet the new challenges of the digital age.
This masterclass tells the story of De Gruyter's digital transformation, shows the approach the publisher took, the challenges the company faced, how they overcame them, and what challenges lie ahead.