The demand for outsourcing in publishing continues to rise

Small Banner

As technology continuously improves so too does the effectiveness of virtual and remote working for all. A recent Just Content whitepaper in collaboration with BookMachine, looked at how the publishing industry has evolved from working solely in-house, to outsourcing work. But what is driving this trend and why is it so popular in the publishing industry?

Hiring freelancers and outsourcing at scale offers many advantages to the publishing industry. Publishers can choose to reduce in-house headcount whilst increasing output by operating as a larger team when a project calls for it, effectively using freelancers and outsourcing as an on-demand solution to business needs.

Over the past few years we have seen numerous publishing departments restructured, as companies have shifted to digital or downsized due to financial pressures. Across the industry, from small independent trade presses to large global educational publishers, every sector has faced challenges. In 2016, Pearson Education, with over 40,000 employees worldwide, announced it would reduce its workforce by 10% by the end of 2017. As a result of such changes and the associated budget cuts, Stephen Barker, Pearson’s Senior Analyst, Rights and Permissions, UK Schools, suggests that outsourcing lets them ‘do the same for less money.’ His team have been able to utilise discounts offered by their packagers (working in strategic partnership on high-volume contracts), and as a result their Schools Education business unit has become much more scalable.

Outsourcing also gives companies access to ‘specialists’, who bring to the table in-depth experience on a variety of projects in niche areas. Web-based platforms are making it easier for companies to find the people they need from a global talent pool, whilst at the same time making it simpler for freelancers to advertise their skills. In-house teams know the nuts and bolts of the area of publishing that they work in, but outside talent can provide a skills or knowledge boost if, for example, the publisher is entering a new market or producing content in a new format for the first time.

Most companies have an existing database of trusted freelancers that they can call upon. However, the most-forward thinking of the larger publishing houses are also working with a partner that is capable of managing not only the entire workload of a project, but also the day-to-day logistics and quality control of deliverables. This has led to the birth of directory sites such as BookMachine, who provide a platform for freelancers to promote their skills and companies such as Just Content, who specialise in handling large scale outsourced projects as a packager.

It seems then, that outsourcing in publishing is not only here to stay, but will continue to grow strong as publishers, outsource packager companies and freelancers themselves continue to reap in the benefits. What publishers are doing now is looking at how they should manage this outsourcing process and this is explored further in the Just Content study powered by BookMachine which you can download for free here.


  1. It is all about profitability. When your profitability takes a hit you tend to find an easy way out by cutting down on workforce and doing away with operating costs. Another reason of outsourcing is that it comes cheap and most of it happening in Editorial jobs. This is what I see also happening in India. It is mostly getting out of job people or part timers to work on it and this can be done paying less that what you pay a full time employee. Getting the job done and at the same time showing profitability to stakeholders. What else is required? !

Comments are closed.