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

Re: Should university presses adopt an OA model for all of their scholarly books?


I read with great interest the various emails regarding our paper 
"Should University Presses Adopt An Open Access Business Model 
for All of Their Scholarly Books?' And we appreciate all of the 
suggestions and comments provided in the emails.

As for a few of the comments from Sandy Thatcher, I thought I 
might provide a response to anyone interested in numerous issues 
and suggestions we presented in the 15 page single spaced paper.

First the "typical" P & L (page 9): We tried to be supportive of 
university presses and present positive information, not negative 
information. Four of my nine books were published by university 
presses (NYU; Stanford); and a fifth book was published by a 
scholarly and professional organization (The International 
Reading Association). We believe in the importance of university 
presses and the university press association. Clearly, without 
them we are "out of business" as academics.

So We decided to show a typical book "which took months to edit 
and tied up thousands of dollars...any slippage in sales could 
have generated a loss..." We are in the process of revising this 
paper (with statistical data back to the early 1970s).

Since Sandy seemed to want to see a P & L for a typical book that 
had negative numbers, we will add a second PL & L with negative 
numbers. We appreciate this suggestion.

Second the "working with librarians, NGOs, etc., craft a global 
marketing strategy (by 2012-2013) to license digital content in 
developing nations..." (page 12). Perhaps we were not clear. We 
assumed that the OA publications in the U.S., Canada, etc.,would 
be in English, not in foreign languages. So we assumed the 
licenses would be for foreign rights (in Chinese, Spanish, etc.). 
We will clarify this point and refer to foreign language rights. 
We appreciate this suggestion.

Third the $250 submission fee and the $250 review fee (page 10): 
Our goal was to make university presses self-sufficient and more 
successful financially; and this suggestion was made in this 
paper before the recent data in The Chronicle of Higher Education 
regarding declines in university endowments.

There are costs in doing business, and we assumed, perhaps 
incorrectly, that the $250 submission fee would balance out the 
review costs. Also, we wanted to present reasonable fees, 
especially to academics at colleges that lack the financial and 
research resources available to academics at many of the major 
research universities.

Perhaps some people believe these two fees are too low. What 
options exists? I do not believe that "variable pricing 
strategies" (charge more to an assistant professor of philosophy 
at Yale than an assistant professor of philosophy at a small 
state college that is dependent on tuition) seems fair. In 
addition the idea of a fee submission structure is a substantive 
departure from existing policies.

All things considered, we still believe the $250 fees are fair, 
and a university press might have to modify these $250 fees 
gradually to capture the "fair market costs" associated with 
reviews. But then again someone might insist that university 
presses generate "fair market profits" if actual "fair market 
costs" were charged for all services.

Fourth "the review process per accepted manuscript alone costs at 
least $3,000 in editorial overhead..." [Sandy's comment]. We 
allocated 30% in our "sample P & L" (again page 9) for overhead. 
This 30% is a national average; perhaps a press could increase 
its overhead to compensate for costs unique to that press.

Fifth other studies: we read through the two studies Sandy 
mentioned; and they were very useful. We are also familiar with 
the published literature on scholarly communication. We had a 
fifteen page limit for the ELPUB paper; so the bibliography had 
to fit. We appreciate this suggestion, and our revised paper will 
have a longer bibliography.

Lastly, the $100.00 marketing costs (page 9 in the P & L). We 
called this a "sample P & L." We assumed a $1,000 marketing ($1 
per printed copy) in the printed book - P & L, and - we assumed 
$4 per POD copy. A press could?spend whatever it wants for 

Overall, it seems as if the thrust of certain comments were 
centered on a selected number of issues (i.e., fees and costs) 
raised in the paper. I appreciate the candor and the time spent 
in the emails to identify these issues.

I did not see any comments on the fact that university press 
title output increased while unit sales declined (as well as the 
myriad of other issues we raised in the paper including 

When we first made our fee recommendations to individuals 
associated with the university press community, our suggestions 
were rejected outright as unrealistic and borderline 

We did not call or write Sandy for this thoughts before we wrote 
the paper. I hope there are no hard feelings because we did not 
call him.

As some of you might know, we have worked on Book Industry Trends 
for ten years; and, during the year, we talk to a significant 
number of people at university presses and commercial presses as 
well as the media. Plus we review statistical data for hundreds 
of publishing firms.

Overall, we appreciate all of the thoughtful suggestions (many of 
which will be incorporated in the revised paper). But we stand by 
the basic arguments we presented in this paper.

If university presses are to survive (and they must survive) as 
commercial and scholarly presses digitize their book content 
(e.g., Springer has 25,000 professional e-books) and as UP unit 
sales decline, a rearranging the "deck chairs" strategy just will 
not work.

Albert N. Greco