Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's time to stand up to greedy academic publishers

How should research travel from the notebooks, hard drives and laboratories of researchers to the desks of their peers? Who should get access? And who should pay?

Over the past few years, these deceptively simple questions have been beset with controversy. Librarians at some of the world’s wealthiest institutions have announced that they can no longer afford to purchase the materials their researchers need. Leading academics have organised boycotts, petitions and mass resignations to protest the combination of prohibitively high prices and profit margins that rival those of the big oil, pharmaceutical and technology firms. A recent paper found that just five multinational publishing conglomerates accounted for 50% of all papers published in 2013.

Full article at The Guardian here

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Big Publishing Consolidation Means for Authors

An extract:

Within book publishing, consolidation means fewer decision-makers and fewer personalities. It means a mandate from the top to acquire only the most commercial works. Editors in New York are taught to look for a certain kind of book, and this leads to myopic thinking about what’s good, and even what’s publishable. Due to the desire for celebrity connections, big book publishing is also fueling a type of publishing that’s bottom-line driven, sacrificing the passion projects and special projects that editors used to be able to take risks on. Exclusively bottom-line driven publishing has created lowest common denominator publishing, where publishers are undervaluing (or just not seeing as viable) what’s quirky, unique, and fringe in favor of appealing to the masses. And I don’t think I need to go into a sidebar here about the general taste and sophistication level of the American masses.

If you are an aspiring author, every acquisition and merger of this type is another door being shut along your publishing journey. The barriers were already high, and with every consolidation, that barrier gets a little higher. Readers are impacted too, because we have more substanceless books than ever before, and more celebrity authors with ghostwriters telling us what to wear, how to throw a party, how to apply make-up, how to have good sex, what to eat, how to succeed. We collude, of course, because we buy into it. We are creating an upper echelon of authorship that’s based on brand and celebrity and packaging. And these choices reverberate across our media and our culture. The consolidation of big publishing is no different than mom-and-pop shops going out of business because they can’t compete with the Walmarts and the Targets of the world. So pay attention, because we’re bearing witness to the further dilution of a withering traditional landscape, the consequences of which are currently reshaping everything we think we know about book publishing (and by extension authorship and readership).
All true. Full article here