A Taxonomy of University Presses Today

University presses bring a diversity not only of costs, scale, and business models, but also of organizational capacity, incentives, and objectives. As efforts are mounted to transition monograph publishing to open access, it is vital that we recognize the richness and complexity of this community.

How Much Does Publishing Cost?

There have been several recent studies of what it costs to publish academic monographs, but they all mistake the cost of production with the cost of publication. This post summarizes the issues and suggests a very simple way to calculate the cost of publication.

Textbooks in Academic Libraries: The Publisher’s Case

This post presents a case for why publishers would want to participate in a program to sell textbooks to academic libraries. The plan would include a means for publishers to retain their profitability, albeit on a lower sales volume, by taking advantage of digital technology and by “repairing” some broken elements in the current marketplace, e.g., the market for used and pirated books.

Neither Fish Nor Fowl: Journal Publishing and the University Press

University presses are not well positioned to thrive in journal publishing because they have not adopted any of the (relatively few and common) business strategies that are necessary, given market dynamics, for success. I do not put forth this thesis lightly. I have great affection and admiration for university presses, their value — craftsmanship, attention to detail, “getting it right”— and their mission. This is not admiration from afar: I served, in the formative years of my career, at the University of Chicago Press (Chicago), where I learned the tools of the trade and many of the practices and protocols of scholarly publishing still in use today. But after nearly two decades of observing university presses, from within and without, this thesis seems to be inescapable.

Update on a Library Research Project

Preliminary results on a research project on library acquisitions are now in. They suggest some interesting patterns in collection-building; the data from this project will be useful for other researchers. It is hoped that the full roll-out of this project will take place later this year.

The Open Access Monograph

There are many programs now to create open access monographs, but the business models surrounding these efforts do not appear to be sufficiently robust to make the OA monograph sustainable. The problem is that the monograph is something that many people want, but few are willing to pay for.