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

I'm glad Dr. Greco has found some of my comments helpful and will 
make revisions of the paper. As I noted in my posting, this 
article deserves a fuller discussion than can be given in a short 
posting to this listserv, and I plan to devote one of my 
forthcoming columns in Against the Grain to offering a fuller 
critique. But just on the point about licensing translations, 
this is unnecessary at least as far as developing nations are 
concerned as Berne and other international copyright conventions 
already provide a compulsory licensing scheme for this purpose. 
See this for one discussion:


Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

>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