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Re: Future of the "subscription model?"

>The staff editors and the members of the faculty editorial 
>boards, however, do NOT function as "experts" in this process, 
>but rather have a broader point of view, where issues of 
>relevance and importance to the wider community of scholars 
>(outside the narrow speciality of the book) and beyond to 
>readers outside academe very much come into play.

Understood. But these presses don't typically sell very many 
copies of the scholarly books they publish. Does this suggest 
that the staff editors and faculty editorial boards who are 
analyzing the marketplace don't know what they're doing? Or does 
it suggest that they're consciously publishing high-quality books 
for which they know there is low demand, in the time-honored 
spirit of Thomas J. Wilson ("a university press exists to publish 
as many good scholarly books as possible short of bankruptcy")? 
I'm open to a third possibility, but I'm not sure what it might 

>Rick may not know this, but presses do turn a lot of books down 
>on market grounds, because they do not think they are relevant 
>or important enough to interest a wider audience.

Sandy may not know this, but I've worked in the book business. I 
spent four years of my career elbow-deep in the products of UPs 
and scholarly trade presses, analyzing their content, helping 
academic libraries figure out which ones were best suited to 
their collection parameters, and seeing how many of which ones 
sold to what kinds of institutions. And I do know that presses 
(even scholarly ones) turn down manuscripts on a regular basis in 
light of market realities. But the books that get rejected aren't 
at issue here; the problem we're discussing has to do with the 
ones that get accepted and published. A book isn't more useful to 
scholars just because ten other manuscripts were rejected as less 

>P.S. If librarians are worried about publishing based just on 
>quality alone, then why are they so excited about PLoS ONE, 
>which narrows the criteria even further, to just methodological 
>soundness, not even assessing articles on the basis of 
>substantive contribution?

I think there's a bit more ambivalence about PLoS ONE in the 
library world than Sandy suggests, in part for the reason he 
cites. But I can think of two reasons why at least some 
librarians would be excited about it. The first is that they see 
it as a force helping to move the publishing world in the 
direction of open access. The second is that PLoS ONE articles 
are available for free. Librarians tend to worry less about the 
relevance and importance of articles that can be made available 
to patrons at no cost and with a minimal investment of staff 

Rick Anderson
Assoc. Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections
J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah