Survival Strategies for Academic Publishing

John B. Thompson, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Jun 14, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good analysis of the problems facing university presses. The author notes that the bottom has fallen out of the monograph market, and that hence these presses are in difficult financial straits. The decline in library purchases is a part of this, but the larger part is that students have stopped buying the books. "They regard prices as too high and are inventing all sorts of ways to avoid doing the one thing they are supposed to do, which is to buy the books. They are borrowing books, sharing books, going online to shop around for the cheapest books they can find, and so on. Enterprising jobbers are importing cheaper foreign editions and undercutting the sales of American editions." Good analysis, but the proposed solutions - print fewer books, and charge more for them - are not convincing. Raising prices in a market that already thinks (with justification) that it is getting fleeced is not a forward-thinking strategy.
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