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RE: Should university presses adopt an OA model for all their books

Irving's eloquent cri de coeur is on target. The history of 
university press publishing over the past few decades has been 
one continuing effort to cut costs, as markets (especially the 
library market) shrink. Hence one seldom finds these days the 
kind of rigorous proofreading that was standard in the past. 
Among publishers generally, university presses have tried to hold 
the line on quality as best they can, but cost pressures have 
forced us all to make compromises. It is in this context that I 
find it appalling that there seems to be such ready acceptance 
among OA advocates for posting of articles that have not gone 
through any editing process at all. This is one sure way to 
downgrade standards even more and accept second-rate writing as 
the best we can afford.

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

>This discussion has taken some interesting directions, and I
>personally find the differences in estimated average costs quite
>fascinating, but not actually very surprising.
>However, one of the things I keep wondering about is the strong 
>attraction exhibited, by some at least, to finding ways of 
>holding out-of-pocket scholarly publishing costs to the absolute 
>minimum possible? What does that say about our sense of 
>priorities as a society?
>It all reminds me of that slogan from the 60's, "It'll be a 
>great day when our schools have all the money they need and the 
>Air Force has to hold bake sales to buy a new bomber..." or 
>something like that.
>If scholarly communication is important, is it not reasonable to 
>ask that we as a society be willing and able to commit some 
>reasonable proportion of our resources to it? Or should we 
>instead "starve the beast" in hopes of....?
>As one who remembers the 60's, I still find myself yearning from 
>time to time for that better, simpler, world in which we all 
>grow our own vegetables (which my family did), raise our own 
>poultry (if you're OK with eating eggs and maybe an occasional 
>chicken; if not, not), teach our children at home, build our own 
>houses, and spend as little as possible on the products offered 
>to us by those heartless owners of the means of mass production. 
>And as dated, and naive, as this sounds today, I really do feel 
>those pangs from time to time. Which is why I mow my own lawn 
>(while thinking about eliminating it by going natural), service 
>my own power equipment, cut and split my own firewood, and have 
>joined the Community Supported Agriculture movement.
>But, I am also aware, that even as we in academia and scholarly 
>publishing continually fret about the increasing cost of 
>journals, books, and (relatively) shrinking library materials 
>budgets, our society is simultaneously devoting huge chunks of 
>money--far, far, larger than anything most of us have any 
>experience with--into other less crucial endeavors--pet food for 
>example. (I say that as a dog lover. Forgive me, Asia.)
>And I have to ask myself, would not some of the energy we seem 
>to be so committed to putting into making scholarly publishing 
>costs go away, be better put into finding ways to ensure that 
>we, as a society, can and do adequately fund things like 
>education (including higher education)? Yes, even scholarly 
>communication? If we want to avail ourselves of the advantages 
>of today's technology, it's going to cost something, is it not? 
>If Citibank is worth a $34 billion rescue package and a $300 
>billion guarantee, how much is your college library worth? 
>Nothing? Something?
>And should CHOICE really have to agonize every year over whether 
>to increase subscription prices by $5.00 or $10.00? Or try to 
>hold them even (as we sometimes manage to do), even as CHOICE 
>staff settle for minimal salary adjustments year after year (on 
>salaries that aren't all that high to begin with)?
>There are, I suspect, no real answers to these questions, but if 
>anyone has one, I'd be delighted to hear it.
>Irving E. Rockwood
>Editor & Publisher
>100 Riverview Center
>Suite 298
>Middletown, CT 06457
>(860) 347-6933 x119
>(860) 704-0465 fax