Specialist publisher

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A specialist publisher or trade book publisher is a publisher who primarily or exclusively textbooks or literature published that appeal to "a specialized audience mostly overlooking professional use or (if a scientific book) gaining new scientific findings" addresses.

Types of specialist publishers

Relevant specialist publishers (the “specialist market”) are divided into humanities, “STM” ( scientific, technical and medical publishers . German: natural sciences, technology, medicine) and “RWS” (law, economics, taxes) publishers. According to Caroline Tovornik (2006), these can each be assigned to several classes of the general decimal classification of the German National Library : Humanities publishers correspond roughly to DK 1 (philosophy, psychology), DK 2 (religion, theology - today only called religion), DK 8 ( Linguistics and literature, fiction - today only language) and DK 9 (geography, history). STM publishers publish in DK 5 (mathematics, natural sciences - today only natural sciences) and DK 6 (applied sciences, medicine, technology - today only technology). The RWS publishers are classified in DK 3 (social sciences). Specialized company forms of a specialist publisher are in the narrower or broader sense z. B. University publishers , science publishers or corporate publishers .

In 2018, the German specialist media houses achieved a turnover of 7.73 billion euros, an increase of 1.1% compared to 2017. Declining printing revenues could be compensated by digital business.

As with all publishers, the specialist book market also concentrates on a few large publishing groups. Numerous well-known specialist publishers that are continued under their name belong to larger publishing groups today.

Publishing programs

The publishing program of a specialist or specialist book publisher can include specialist information in other specialist media such as magazines , loose-leaf publications , forms , newsletters , software , CD-ROMs , DVDs , e-books , online offers and seminars in addition to specialist books .

While some specialist book publishers also have bestsellers in their publishing program, other specialist or specialist book publishers, in contrast to a general- interest publisher, must take into account that the works they publish can usually only be produced in a small print run. A profit cannot therefore be achieved by selling copies of a specialist book that is correspondingly high in relation to the production costs, but requires a sales guarantee by subscribers or - especially in Germany - in the form of printing subsidies , ie through the authors' participation in the costs.


Some companies have come under criticism from scientific publishers as a specialized form of a specialist publisher for various reasons. So z. For example, those who " offer hardly any other services apart from the mere printing of the dissertations in large numbers".

For research literature, it was found in several media reports in 2018 that more than 5,000 German scientists had published their research results in worthless online specialist journals of pseudo-scientific publishers. The great pressure to publish is exploited. According to research, there is usually no peer review. Often these are internet journals that are published in South Asia, the Gulf region, Africa or Turkey and a fee is sometimes high. The problem has been known for a long time, but the number has increased significantly recently. Around 400,000 researchers worldwide are affected. The problem of a lack of quality assurance is evident in the fact that it is not uncommon for questionable studies with an apparently scientific seal of approval to reach the public or authors use this to publish research articles quickly without facing criticism from colleagues. Several well-known institutions and persons called for this practice to be reviewed and discontinued so that the credibility of the science is not damaged.

Also in 2018, Elsevier , the "world market leader among science publishers with around 2500 journals", came under fire, so that at the turn of the year 2018/2019 libraries from more than 200 universities and research institutions in Germany set an example against the high license fees of this science publisher and with it the Contracts not renewed. ( See also criticism of Elsevier )


The Association of German Trade Press represents the interests of specialist media providers in Germany and represents around 350 member publishers.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Duden : Fachverlag , online at duden.de
  2. ^ Duden: Fachbuchverlag , online at duden.de
  3. Sigrid Pohl, Konrad Umlauf: Warenkunde book . Structures, contents and tendencies of the German-speaking book market of the present. 2nd, renewed edition. Harrassowitz Verlag , Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-447-05622-9 , pp. 117 ff . ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed April 18, 2013] 345 pages, paperback ).
  4. Carolin Tovornik: Fachbuchverlage in Berlin 1989-2004 . s. S. 10. In the series: Alles Buch - Studien der Erlangen Buchwissenschaft XVII , edited by Ursula Rautenberg u. Volker title. Book studies, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg 2006. ISBN 3-9809664-7-X .
  5. Ten main classes of the Dewey decimal classification according to the current DNB homepage. Today's names refer to it.
  6. David Hein: Specialist publishers are growing thanks to digital media , news from May 8, 2019, online at horizont.net
  7. Book market expert: “It won't be easier for smaller publishers” Holger Heimann in an interview with Antje Allroggen Deutschlandfunk on December 18, 2019
  8. Allocation of individual specialist publishers to company groups in the company database "habenzu-wem.de"
  9. Ranking 2019 of the top 10 specialist publishers with the highest gross advertising revenues of the 150 largest titles on statista.com
  10. a b Gemma Pörzgen: Doctor Digital - Bringing your own dissertation to a publishing house gives her prestige. But the Internet is cheaper and faster. Digital publishing also depends on the subject. online in Der Tagesspiegel from February 18, 2014
  11. Bettina Wonschik: Customer focus: meaning and realization in specialist publishers . Harrassowitz Verlag , Wiesbaden 1994. See p. 34. ( full text in the Google book search) ISBN 978-3-447-03517-0 .
  12. Dubious publishers - theses: be careful when publishers make publication offers , moderation: Paulus Müller, interviewer: Armin Himmelrath , broadcast on November 20, 2019 in Deutschlandfunk Nova , online at deutschlandfunknova.de
  13. kas / dpa : Research - Thousands of scientists publish in pseudo-journals , report in Research & Teaching from July 19, 2018, online at forschung-und-lehre.de
  14. Katrin Schmermund: Deal negotiations - How the scientific community defies the dispute with publishers , report in Research & Teaching of January 24, 2019, online at forschung-und-lehre.de