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Steve Castro

CFO & Director of Marketing & Sales, Annual Reviews

Steve Castro First, tell us a bit about yourself (hometown, current locale, family, hobbies, community involvement?).

I grew up in Santa Cruz, on California’s central coast. I went to college in San Diego, where I met my wife and then spent the next eight years. When we began to raise a family I took a finance director job at Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford. This allowed us to move back to Santa Cruz, where I had friends and family. On the outskirts of that burgeoning surf, sand, and software town is where we live today. When I’m not attending our three kids’ sports or school functions, I enjoy long bike rides, photographic excursions, and pruning the sturdy tangles in our small back yard vineyard.

Describe some of your responsibilities, and how you or your organization fit into the scholarly communications web.

I am both the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Director of Marketing and Sales for Annual Reviews—at times an odd combination of responsibilities. As CFO I champion fiscal sobriety. Wearing my Marketing/Sales hat (at a rakish angle) I spend (our vigilant CFO calls this “investing”) money to grow revenue through new sales opportunities. In both roles, of course, the primary challenge in a nonprofit organization is to control costs, keep the prices of our journals low, and steadily broaden the dissemination of our topnotch authors’ reviews.

Annual Reviews was established, with one journal, in 1932. Today we are the still-nonprofit publisher of comprehensive literature reviews in 40 scientific disciplines. None of our 40 journals accepts unsolicited papers; rather, our extraordinarily accomplished editorial committees invite each extraordinarily accomplished author to address a timely topic. The overwhelming majority of our customers are university libraries, most of them subscribing through a site license.

What career path led to your current position?

I spent 15 years in healthcare finance. The hospital was a fascinating place to work. I relished a setting where life-significant challenges created a special camaraderie among highly ethical people passionate about their goals. That’s why in 1999 I was drawn to Annual Reviews, an organization with the same passion for ethical practices, unquestionable quality, and the advancement of scientific knowledge. Acutely challenging at turn-of-the-21st-century Annual Reviews were the rapid and intriguing changes taking place in the online delivery of content.

Where do you see scholarly communications heading, and what new directions interest you most?

After ten years in this industry I’m still tickled by the exuberance of our opportunities. But it’s more difficult than ever to know which innovations offer our users and ourselves the best rewards. Certainly the primary “game changers” during the past 15 years have been the Web-based technologies that now bring scholarly information providers and knowledge beneficiaries together more efficiently.

Along with colleagues everywhere in the world of publishing I’m fascinated by the potential of small mobile devices to deliver enhanced scholarly content. Because students and researchers now expect to use pocket-sized devices to read our literature reviews in the dentist’s waiting room, we need to provide tools and content specifically for such devices. We need to provide mobile “anywhere access” to campus site licenses. We need fresh discussions about revenue models tailored to mobiles.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Jump in if you’re ready to join an industry that will experience significant change. Keep abreast of developments by attending events like SSP’s annual meeting and the Charleston Conference, by meeting with colleagues and competitors in every possible context, and by familiarizing yourself with the wide variety of opinions and insights on the relevant listservs.

I like American University professor John M. Richardson, Jr.’s famous quip that “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

Profiled March 2010