This interview is part of the Wiley Partner Solutions Spotlight series.
You’ve worked with Atypon for 15 of their 25+ years. Please share, from your point of view, the evolution of Atypon through the last 15 years.
One of the first conversations I had when I joined Atypon in 2008, through an acquisition, was with the founder and CEO of Atypon, Georgios Papadopoulos, in which he told me (and I clearly remember) that Atypon is primarily a technology company. I have been with Atypon for 15 years now and can attest that those words still hold true for Atypon. During these 15 years, I have seen Atypon evolve from a startup culture to a more mature company, which, I believe is a natural progression for a company that grew from 80 to 450 colleagues in a matter of 10 to 15 years. One of the key moments in the history of Atypon was the Wiley acquisition that took place in 2016. There was naturally some trepidation in the industry when this took place however, from the inside, it never felt that things would spiral out of control because from day one of the acquisition, both Wiley and Atypon were aligned on the most important part of our business – our customers. In the seven years since being acquired, I am very pleased to see that that alignment is not only very much intact but also has been solidified further by being a key part of Wiley Partner Solutions.
Looking towards the future, I am very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for Atypon, as part of the Wiley Partner Solutions family of products and services. As my dear friend and colleague Hisham Shahtout who has been in Atypon for 20+ years says, “Atypon spent the first few decades being a content dissemination platform for publishers; now, we are very well poised to be a content authoring and dissemination platform for publishers as well as being the primary place they discover and engage with their online audience.” Strategically, as part of Wiley Partner Solutions, we are well poised to work towards this new vision. The key factor, in my opinion, is going to be in how well we execute and deliver on our strategy.
What’s the most interesting aspect of working with Atypon’s customers and accounts?
I have been in customer facing roles my entire career that spans roughly 30 years, now, out of which I have worked with Atypon’s customers and accounts for 15 years. Customers come in all shapes and forms and that is one of things that makes it very interesting. At the core of it, however, there is one thing that many of our customers have in common and that one thing is also the reason why our customers have been with us for a long time – their willingness to partner with us. By treating us like a partner and not a vendor, they get the best out of us, which empowers us to produce the maximum value for them. It goes without saying that partnerships are not one-directional and we treat our customers like partners as well.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of the work you and your team do?
It’s very satisfying to execute and deliver results to our customers in time and with high quality. We love it when partners share with us how our hard work contributed to their success and they either send us kudos in the form of a congratulatory note or an appreciative email. The reason for this is – at the end of the day it’s all about people, as humans. On average, people spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and to see our work produce results and then be acknowledged for them, is fundamental to the wellbeing of people.
What’s compelling to you about working in scholarly publishing now, and into the future?
I am a big believer of working to make a difference every day. In fact, despite being in the bay area for over 15 years, that is one of the biggest reasons I have been in Atypon (and Wiley) for so long. I genuinely believe that we, at Atypon, make a difference every day, in the world of scholarly publishing, through our technology solutions. I would also go out on a limb to say that the scholarly publishing industry tends to be a bit conservative as far as being on the leading edge of technology is concerned. In that aspect, as a technology leader, this makes our work at Atypon even more important now and into the future because the industry is up against some serious challenges like:
- The business models turning on its head from the subscription model to open access and the importance of the researcher now as the hub around which the research ecosystem flows.
- As more and more content goes digital, the stakes are getting higher too in terms of tackling abuse, privacy, and security.
- The world of technology looking to leverage the opportunities and tackle the risks of using generative AI.
- The challenges that scholarly publishers now face with government mandates like the OSTP guidance to make federally funded research being open to all by Dec 31 2025.
What sets Literatum apart from other publishing platform providers?
It’s well known in the scholarly publishing industry that Literatum is the leading platform for hosting and disseminating scholarly content. I won’t delve much into the statistics that prove this as they are readily available for anyone interested on the Atypon website. Having said that I would like to answer this question in two parts:
(A) The visible portion: Literatum’s competitive advantage stems first from the constant focus and investments we have made over time in our product and the technology behind the product. Our customers leverage the power and flexibility of Literatum and run their businesses effectively. Self-service tools like the Literatum Admin Tool and PageBuilder, for example, are powerful and flexible tools that give our customers the ability to configure and run their sites effectively with minimal help from us. In addition to this, I have been focused on improving our service levels for our customers as well, so that we provide a top-notch experience to our customers. The goal is to delight customers at all levels, and we are committed to continuously improving to achieve that.
(B) The invisible (behind-the-scenes) portion: Everyone on the Literatum team shares a single-minded focus on the value we add to the customers we serve. You can go to any team – Product Management, Client Management, Engineering – everyone talks about how what they do relates to the value their work provides to our customers. Most of our meetings are focused on our customers. This underlying philosophy of constantly putting the customer at the center of it all shows up in all aspects of what we build, support, and deliver to our customers.
How does Atypon and the products, services, and technologies they offer help scholarly publishers now, and in coming years with the transition to open access?
Every industry goes through a period of transformation. The nineteenth century was the industrial age which was dominated by factory work; which then transformed to the information age which was dominated by knowledge workers and then came the digital age, which kicked off with the internet. Scholarly publishing is no exception to this shift and publishers are investing more and more in their digital publishing portfolio of products and services. This shift, which arguably started at the tail end of the twenty-first century, has brought technology to the center of it all. This is exactly the time when Atypon, through its flagship product, Literatum, stepped in to help scholarly publishers (our customers) so that they could focus on their core business, publishing.
While the general transformation of the informational age to the digital age was ongoing, there were other shifts that took place recently in scholarly publishing. The shift of the subscription-based business models to an open access-based business model; the tectonic shifts caused by sophistication in technology; and then the rapid changes in terms of security, privacy, and regulations that impact the scholarly publishing industry. Atypon has countered these market dynamics by doing the one thing that we never stopped investing in – innovation. By constantly investing in the future and innovating, Atypon expanded its suite of products from Literatum to CONNECT, Insights, and now other AI based products. Taking the example of CONNECT – this enables our customers to recognize their audience which in turn, opens up the possibilities of monetizing their audiences, thereby opening the opportunity of other revenue streams.
What do you like better: starting tasks or completing them, and why?
I have been responsible for delivering to customers for most of my 30-year career. I think I will be in trouble if I say that I don’t like completing tasks as much as starting them! The truth is, I am passionate about completing what I have started because I think it is (A) One of the most challenging things to do and (B) One of the most important ways of building trust all around and we all know that in business, trust is key.
Without the trust of customers or colleagues in completing tasks, we wouldn’t get many future opportunities to start on.
So, in other words, while it is true that you cannot complete if you don’t start; the opposite is true too – you cannot start if you do not complete things, either.
Who or what inspires you?
I am very inspired by the work I do and at many levels. I am inspired and humbled by being part of an industry that is in service of mankind – where we are helping researchers make progress, every day, to do what we once thought was not possible. I am inspired by the community of partners and customers that we serve and last but not least, I am inspired by the people who I work with.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself!
I am an Advanced (500 hours) Certified Yoga teacher, an ardent chess player, and I am a published author of what is most probably the shortest published book on Project Management.