Here is a very good article in The Nation outlining some of the challenges faced by university presses:
University Presses Category
UI Libraries Join Knowledge Unlatched to Support Open Access Books in the Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Iowa Libraries has signed up to support Knowledge Unlatched, a collaborative initiative to make scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences available open access. Knowledge Unlatched uses a model that brings library funds together to a set of books that academic publishers have agreed to make open access with a Creative Commons license.
Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. -Peter Suber [source]
The first collection of books in this pilot collection cover History, Political Science, Literary Studies, Anthropology and Communications [The full title list is here]. This project is the first of its kind and is expected to pave the way for more scholarly books to be freely available online without the usual licensing restrictions of eBooks. If 200 libraries sign up by January 31st, these books will be “unlatched” and future collections will be expected to emerge in 2014.
On Friday US District Court judge Orinda Evans ruled against publishers seeking an injunction that would have imposed restrictions on faculty wanting to use copyrighted material in courses. She also required the publishers to pay Georgia State’s attorney fees. In a story from Inside Higher Ed Steve Kolowich reports “In the course of explaining her decision to make the publishers foot the bill for the university’s legal defense, the judge declared what observers have been opining for months: “On balance,” she wrote, “the court finds that the defendants are the prevailing party in this case.” For the opinion itself see http://chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/pdflawsuit.pdf
A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education provides another perspective on University Presses. “The Global University Press” (July 23, 2012) by Peter J. Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press, looks at the global market and how University Presses can benefit from increased international focus. Dougherty discusses several trends in global scholarship and lists innovations that can aid University presses:
- University Press Content Consortium’s Books on Project MUSE and Books at JSTOR
- Transnational advance of online book merchants
- Print on demand, or POD
- Digitally driven publicity
- Use of social and other digital media to communicate with local sales representatives in foreign countries
He adds, “The most crucial work in creating the global university press lies with acquisitions editors, who will be building the lists of the future.”
The fourth post in Adeline Koh’s series Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing in The Chronicle of Higher Education is “What is the Future of Academic Publishing? An Interview with Gita Manaktala from MIT Press”. Koh asks about open access publishing of monographs, alternative peer review, libraries as publishers and the future of University Presses. Makaktala states:
There are many possible futures for the scholarly monograph. Ultimately its fate is not in the hands of university presses, which have struggled to keep it alive in spite of declining readership. (Academic libraries have likewise struggled to support the monograph despite falling circulation.) The future depends on whether scholars themselves value the monograph enough to keep reading it. If so, funding models for monographs can and will be found.
The full interview can be read at http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/what-is-the-future-of-academic-publishing-an-interview-with-gita-manaktala-from-mit-press/41335.
Ever since the University of Missouri announced on May 24 that it was closing its Press, university presses have been generating quite a bit of discussion. In the last few days several items of interest have appeared.
On July 6, The Iowa City Press-Citizen interviewed Jim McCoy, the director of The University of Iowa Press, about the future of the UI Press (“University presses seek out new roles and new markets“). McCoy said “we have an incredibly supportive administration who understands that we fill a necessary function. … We bridge the gap between research and teaching.” He also noted that they are very small in terms of people but publish a far higher number of books per staff member each year than other presses. He emphasized the value of working with the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Prairie Lights and The UI Libraries.
Inside Higher Ed published an opinion piece on July 9 by Marshall Poe of Iowa’s history department (“What Can University Presses Do?“). Poe would like to see presses move towards open access publishing and new modes of outreach. This item generated quite a few comments from people familiar with university presses and is worth reading for the responses it has generated.
On July 10, The Chronicle of Higher Education included an interview with Patrick Alexander, the head of the Penn state University Press, by Adeline Koh (“Is Open Access a Moral or a Business Issue? A Conversation with The Pennsylvania State University Press“). This is the 3rd piece Koh has written in her series “Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing”. This interview discusses differences between STEM publishing and humanities publishing
The Association of American University Presses has issued a statement critical of the ruling in the Georgia State case and some of its interpretations, especially by librarians.
“We believe it is premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat. The ruling is 347 pages long and not easy to understand, its interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record.”
The long-awaited ruling in the suit against Georgia State brought by the academic publishers came down Friday and seems to largely favor the University. Jennifer Howard writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education :
A federal judge in Atlanta has handed down a long-awaited ruling in a lawsuit brought by three scholarly publishers against Georgia State University over its use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves. The ruling, delivered on Friday, looks mostly like a victory for the university, finding that only five of 99 alleged copyright infringements did in fact violate the plaintiffs’ copyrights.
See additional coverage in Inside Higher Ed:
At the same time, however, the judge imposed a strict limit of 10 percent on the volume of a book that may be covered by fair use (a proportion that would cover much, but by no means all, of what was in e-reserves at Georgia State, and probably at many other colleges). And the judge ruled that publishers may have more claims against college and university e-reserves if the publishers offer convenient, reasonably priced systems for getting permission (at a price) to use book excerpts online. The lack of such systems today favored Georgia State, but librarians who were anxiously going through the decision were speculating that some publishers might be prompted now to create such systems, and to charge as much as the courts would permit.
For further analysis of the decision see http://laboratorium.net/archive/2012/05/13/inside_the_georgia_state_opinion by James Grimmelmann and http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/2012/05/12/the-gsu-decision-not-an-easy-road-for-anyone/ by Kevin Smith.
In another blog post on the Georgia State e-reserves case, Paul Courant, University Librarian (and former Provost) at the University of Michigan, argues that the plaintiffs (Cambridge & Oxford University Presses plus Sage, supported by the Copyright Clearance Center) have crossed the “boundary from adversary to enemy.” Two paragraphs quoted below–for the entire post, see http://paulcourant.net/2011/06/09/the-georgia-state-filing-a-declaration-of-war-on-the-faculty/
The plaintiff’s draft order applies formally only to Georgia State, but if the Court grants the plaintiffs what they seek, the result will be, in the words of Duke University’s Kevin Smith, “a nightmare scenario for higher education:” fair use would be destroyed, university faculty, students, and staff would be subjected to outrageously restrictive copyright policies, and every university would be required to hire a squad of copyright cops to ensure that faculty do the publishers’ bidding. And while it’s not an uncommon strategy to ask for far more than you expect to receive in a negotiation, which this proposed injunction surely is, your “highball” offer is certainly something that you wouldn’t mind having. What the plaintiffs are saying is that they are quite willing impose enormous costs on academic performance and academic freedom in exchange for higher profits. This is not the request of a friendly adversary; this is the attack of an enemy. (Yes, academic authors would also receive some financial benefit, but note that the typical split for incremental revenue is around 90-10 in favor of publishers, and that the additional revenue that publishers would receive under the plaintiffs’ draft order would be obtained NO additional cost incurred by the publishers beyond cashing checks and paying their lawyers.)
As a faculty member, I do not know that I could comply with the restrictions in the proposed injunction for using copyrighted material in my classroom; they are too onerous and much too expensive. As an author and an educator, I have a great respect for copyright law, and I believe in a balance between creating incentives for authors and promoting the ”progress of science and the useful arts.” The proposed injunction does not strike that balance; it unreasonably restricts access to copyrighted works, eliminates fair use, and will force professors to spend much of their time in an exercise of copyright self-censorship. Imagine that if every time you wanted to quote from a text, show an image, or distribute a handout to your students you had to seek the approval of the University Copyright Police; the consequences would be dramatic. (Lest you think I am exaggerating, check out the form that, were the publishers to have their way, faculty would have to fill out every time they put copyrighted works on electronic reserve.