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Re: Publishers' brands

It's interesting that both of these messages were posted back to 
back on the same day. Ahmed argues that the main reason OA works 
for journals and not books is the role that branding plays. I 
submit that Joe's article is an effective rebuttal to Ahmed's 
claims. Brands DO matter for books, and most especially but not 
only for scholarly books.

There is a reason that Penn State Press consistently loses out to 
Cambridge University Press when we try to compete for books by 
junior faculty in certain fields. No significant difference 
exists in the quality of service provided by the two presses that 
would justify an author choosing one over the other. (If 
anything, I would argue the reverse: a smaller press can often 
provide more personal attention to an author than a larger press 
can do. And at Penn State, well known for producing outstanding 
books in the history of art, our production standards are second 
to none.) The only difference that makes a difference here is 
that Cambridge's brand is perceived to carry more weight, more 
"prestige," with those who make decisions about tenure. And it is 
very often not the author's own colleagues in his or her 
department who make this distinction (because they are more 
knowledgeable about the reputation of presses in their own field) 
but the senior administrators who may know the name of Cambridge 
(because it publishes in nearly every academic field) and not 
know the name of a smaller press like Penn State that 
concentrates on only a few fields (but tries to achieve high 
distinction in those few fields).

So, brand DOES matter for scholarly books as it does for 
scholarly articles. And for monographs what royalties the author 
may earn are not significant enough to make them resist the idea 
of OA for their books. (Trade books, of course, are different, 
but the vast majority of what university presses still publish 
are monographs.) Rather, I would argue that OA for books is a 
harder sell simply because the author-side payments needed would 
be much greater than they are for articles: instead of $2,500, 
more like $25,000!  So far I haven't seen any universities 
willing to contemplate mandating OA for books and supplying the 
necessary fees to make OA possible.

Sandy Thatcher

At 6:42 PM -0400 4/12/10, Ahmed Hindawi wrote:

>Readers of this list might be interested in a knol based on a 
>recent talk I have given at the IPA Copyright Symposium 2010. 
>The knol is titled "Beyond Copyright: Open Access as an 
>Alternative Business Model" and can be found at

At 6:41 PM -0400 4/12/10, Joseph Esposito wrote:

>I just posted over at the Scholarly Kitchen on why publishers' 
>brands matter:
>I would be interested in getting feedback on this offline, if 
>anyone thinks it worth the trouble.  I have been studying how 
>the inclusion of certain information, including the name of the 
>publisher, in ONIX feeds influences online discovery.
>Joe Esposito