[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Wellcome Trust report

I have worked for three commercial publishers and one not-for-profit and
in three out of the four cases in senior management jobs.

I am impressed by the comments made on this list by Mr. Eposito but, as
far as I know, he has not worked in journal publishing and he does not
represent the publishing community. In this case I do not think he is
right in what he says as a generalisation. It is a perfectly reasonable
strategy of publishers not to go for price-optimization and bigger profit
margins but to go for the top line revenue increase that goes along with
publishing for an increasing number of learned societies.

In my various jobs I have acted as the publishing partner for a variety of
national, and international learned societies. In all these cases neither
I personally nor the companies I have worked for have had many (if any)
disagreements in principle about strategies of access and pricing.

It is certainly the case that more learned societies partner with
commercial publishers than self-publish at least in the case of English
speaking world..

The ground rules for such partnership are fairly clear. Some years ago I
wrote the official advice of the International Council of Science (ICSU)
which is now out of date but still available on
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~icsuinfo/guidelines.pdf. ICSU is the representative
body at the world level for learned societies or organisations in the
sciences. In it I explain the amount of control of pricing and other
aspects of the publishing process that societies can build into their

These societies represent their communities. Professor Guedon does not.
How far does his objection to capitalism carry? Should learned societies
have contracts with suppliers of print or should they bring all functions
in house? I suppose there must be not-for-profit printers but I do not
know any.

Anthony Watkinson

----- Original Message -----
From: "jcg" <jean.claude.guedon@umontreal.ca>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>; "Joseph J. Esposito"
Sent: Friday, June 04, 2004 5:46 AM
Subject: Re: Wellcome Trust report

> Thank you for this clarification. Never had I seen the fundamental
> divergence between the academic agenda and the commercial publishers
> exposed so clearly and yet so pithily.
> The point about capitalism is not that capitalism does not have a place in
> our societies; it is that it does not and cannot occupy all of the social
> space.  Scholarly and scientific communication are not served by being
> integrated to capitalism. Making capitalism look "natural" in the context
> of scholarly publishing is not a reality or a truth; it is a claim or, at
> best, a thesis.
> Once you note that commercial publishers may be eminently "out of place"
> in scholarly communication, it all becomes very clear: the only reason we
> deal with them is that they command an all too real power position in
> academic publishing. In the end, it all comes down to (economic) power.
> Nothing new here, except that it might be worthwhile to reassert that
> capitalism is not a natural state of affairs and that it did not emerge on
> the 8th day of creation. Neither does it enjoy universal validity.
> Jean-Claude Gu�don