¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [5.1] In fact, as Brown et al indicate, press directors feel that “they are held to a different standard than all the cost centers on campus, that they are essentially penalized for pursuing a cost recovery model, which then becomes the basis for evaluating their performance. When they perform well (in financial terms) they are ‘rewarded’ by having subsidies cut. When they run too large a deficit they are threatened with closure” (19). And in fact many are threatened with closure right now regardless of the size of their deficits: see recent reports of the potential shuttering of presses at institutions including Louisiana State University and Utah State University.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [5.5] It’s necessary to note here that even these commercially successful operations experienced major financial reversals during 2008; news of layoffs from across the publishing industry was rampant during the last weeks of the year, leading to speculation about the uncertain future of book publishing more broadly (see Rich, “Publishers Announce Staff Cuts”).
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 [5.6] This situation will, Thompson suggests, intensify in the digital future: “the principal market for scholarly book content in electronic form is likely to be institutional rather than individual” (368, italics in original).
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [5.7] The rub, of course, is that while every institution has a library, not every institution has a press, and thus a select few universities are producing the scholarly material consumed by all. I’ll address this issue a bit later in the chapter.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [5.8] It’s important to note the troubling implications of the Fordist model of describing the work of the academy here; I’ll take on the problematic notion of intellectual “production” shortly.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [5.9] See John Willinsky: “open access to research archives and journals has the potential to change the public presence of science and scholarship and increase the circulation of this particular form of knowledge” (xi). See also Christine Borgman: “Research funding agencies, both public and private, have yet another set of incentives for open access to publications. Repositories offer a mechanism to ensure that the research they fund is disseminated and accessible” (103).
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [5.10] See, for instance, the National Academies Press model, in which a free version of every text is made available online, with downloadable or print versions of the text available for a fee (“About PDFs”). Evidence increasingly suggests that making a full-text digital copy of a book available online for free drives hard-copy sales, rather than detracting from them; the availability of the text via the network draws readers in via Google, but those readers very often prefer reading in hard-copy form. See Doctorow, “Giving It Away,” and Jensen, “Presses Have Little to Fear from Google.”
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [5.11] See, for instance, Jessica Pressman: Vectors “makes evident how innovations in publishing use digital technologies to promote connections between the various vectors shaping intellectual intersections across disciplines and geographies.”
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [5.12] A major research university, it is important to note, that doesn’t house a university press. One might ask whether Vectors provides USC with the beginnings of a nexus around which a university publishing center could be formed. What possibilities for digital publishing should institutions without presses explore? I’ll return to this question later.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 [5.13] Of course, the example of the scientific lab returns us squarely to the question of grant-based funding, as most such labs operate through significant support from funding bodies such as the NSF and the NIH. There are a couple of key problems in transferring this model of funding to the digital humanities, however, beginning with the fact that there simply aren’t comparable federal funds available outside the sciences. The result is that digital humanities projects must look to private funding bodies, such as the Mellon Foundation, for support. These foundations have been generous supporters of projects such as Vectors, of course, but private foundation funds are not only of limited duration, but they often come with the requirement that the project being funded become self-sustaining within a fixed period of time. We can all understand the ludicrousness of asking a neuroscience lab to become self-sustaining, but asking that of digital publishing projects reveals the continued vision of publishing as a revenue-producing venture.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [5.18] See Brown et al: “librarians have limited skills and experience in marketing content to build awareness and usage…. And no library publishing alternative can begin to compete with the prestige that a university press imprint confers on scholarship, nor replace the credentialing power that presses have developed over decades” (16). The same is arguably true of information technology centers, which generally keep abreast of technological developments but are at times resistant to experimentation that might appear to expose the campus network to malicious intrusion, and (with the very notable exception of instructional technologists) are often focused on issues of enterprise computing, with little freedom to explore the role that computing might play in pedagogy and research.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 [5.19] Brown et al again: presses “are caught in a ‘catch 22,’ where they lack room for experimentation because their budgets are so tight, and thus cannot inspire interest in their administrators to fund anything new” (19).
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [5.20] Note that the first press at Harvard, Cambridge Press (founded 1636; closed 1692) was similarly focused on the publication of religious and legal texts; see Givler, “University Press Publishing in the United States.”
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 [5.21] See Givler, “University Press Publishing”: “Gilman’s famous dictum, ‘It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge, and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures – but far and wide,’ articulated a clear, specific role for university presses.”
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [5.22] See Willinsky: “scholarly publishing runs on a different economic basis than the rest of the publishing world. Researchers and scholars are not paid a penny by journal publishers for original manuscripts presenting the results of perhaps thousands of dollars’ worth of research. Rather, in publishing their work, the authors are banking on a longer-term investment in what might be cast as human rights and vanities” (6); see also Gary Hall: “academics tend not to be too concerned about getting paid a fee for, or receiving royalties from their research publications… the main priority of most academics is to have their research read by as many people as possible, in the hope, not only of receiving greater levels of feedback and recognition for their work, and thus an enhanced reputation, but also of having the biggest possible impact on future research, and perhaps even society. So they are perfectly willing to in effect give their work away for free to anyone who can bring this about” (46).
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 [5.23] Interestingly, as the discussants in “Anthropology of/in Circulation” note, one of the results of AnthroSource’s move to Wiley-Blackwell and the elimination of the project’s most open, experimental aspects was the rise of a “shadow AnthroSource,” in which a number of scholars turned to working with open digital tools (including blogs, repositories, and the like) as a means of getting around the society, which had become a roadblock to rather than a facilitator of innovation. See Kelty et al 574-75.