Friday, August 20, 2010

Experiment Fail in University Press World

We don't often wander into the university press world here at SotB, but this story is worth publicizing. Rice University has decided to suspend operations of its experimental press, which was entirely digital. Scott Jaschik has the story and does a nice job providing context over at Inside Higher Ed.

I won't go into all the ins and outs as this really is part of such a bigger debate, which Jaschik summarizes in the last part of his article, but it is worth pulling this quote, from Eugene Levy - no, not *that* Eugene Levy, but the professor who just completed his time as Provost at the University:
The results leave him wondering about the ability of small publishing operations, he said. While the hope was to save money by not printing books, he said that there "are base costs that are irreducible" for a publisher "and printing is only one of them."
Curious, eh? In the UP world, this means considering moving administrative functions into the library - like I said, a whole world of debate in and of itself. For now, I just want to point this out to show how many small presses not attached to universities don't have this option. Folks of varying kinds - readers, even writers - say to publishers that they shouldn't be so uptight with selection, with pricing, because the digital future means no costs. That's just not the case.

The closing of Rice University Press follows more bad news from earlier this week: Scranton University Press, RIP. I hardly knew ye...

Sorry to be a downer. Maybe Christopher can come along and post a video of a kid picking his nose while reading Curious George or something. I'm sure he can cheer us up on this sunny summer Friday!

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