MediaCommons: Thanks for hosting this report!
Our pleasure! We’re very excited about the opportunity, and look forward to participating in the discussion.
Many thanks to the AAUP — authors of this report, staff, as well as Greg Britton and others who supported us in putting it up here. And thanks to Kathleen Fitzpatrick for the heavy lifting!
This is wonderful – a sign of taking collaboration seriously. Mwah!
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June 20, 2011 at 11:01 am
Troublingly, libraries have some of the same tendencies. It’s easier politically to starve a service into uselessness than to straightforwardly kill it.
See in context
June 20, 2011 at 10:52 am
My sense from reading coverage of the Rice closing in the Chronicle of Higher Ed and elsewhere is that the new Rice UP was stunningly under-resourced. That it folded is no surprise; it wasn’t given a fighting chance to succeed.
May 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm
Publishers and university presses also offer an economies of scale that most individual authors cannot achieve. University Presses, like all publishers, use their size and market power to garner lower production costs from vendors. They also have more formalized workflows with vendors that do not have to be reinvented when a relatively small project gets produced, providing better efficiency, and a quicker time to publish.
April 26, 2011 at 9:49 am
Actually, software isn’t sold. It’s licensed. There is a veneer of a sale with software, but if you look beneath the hood of any software “purchase,” namely, at the EULA you inevitably agree to, you’ll see that the software is being licensed, not sold.
What difference? Look at the recent story on HarperCollins’s decision to alter its EULA on its books:
Transferability is a big issue too. That’s appeared in a healthy discussion in the mainstream media of loaning and borrowing e-books. But there are relatively unexplored areas, such as whether a person can bequeath their e-book collection to their heirs.
To think in terms of licensing, not sales, can open new possible business models. For example, a press, or a consortium of presses, could offer subscribers their entire list for a monthly or annual fee. Such subscription fees could be marketed as the opportunity not only to access cutting-edge research but to support future scholarship. I’m not arguing this is the ideal model or that it doesn’t have flaws. But it is a possibility that should be explored.
April 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm
Of course, digital publications can be sold in the same sense that software is sold. That is–in effect–yes, even though such a sale does not necessarily allow a full range of actions by the buyer that physical objects allow: for example, resale, re-use (short of violating copyright), and access outside of the specific platform for which the digital object is intended.
What difference does that make?
April 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm
Price is a signal of worth. A shorthand signal. That’s what it means to be in market, which where we perpetually are.
April 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Quote: “For university and other scholarly presses, selling books has been simply a means to an end–to publish more and better scholarly books.” There is just no “simply” about it. Publishers don’t enter the marketplace for books simply to get money. It is not only commercial; it is also cultural. Publisher’s put a price on books and release them into the marketplace because both commerce and culture revolve around that market. Books enter the marketplace to be found, to be promoted, and to be publicized. Attaching a price to the book allows its entry into wholesalers and booksellers of every kind. That’s where the public is. Scholarly dissemination does not, and should not, exist in some tidy sphere away from the hurly-burly of the market, if it wants to remain relevant to a larger public.
April 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm
Sandy, this is rather silly, isn’t it? Where will you find a field in which one or two bright lights are the only ones who want to read a particular worthy article? (A dying one, I suspect.)
To my mind, the more important point is that many (most?) scholarly books are only worth publishing because of the captive academic-library market. What’s happening now is that they are starting to baulk at paying the exorbitant prices. Since the content creators as a rule don’t make any money in any case, they don’t see the value in the existing academic-press model (esp. once they have tenure), so the presses are left with few defenders.
What this whole article fails to address is that basic problem with the business model.
April 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Even when this article was released, the iPhone was the most popular e-reader in use.
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