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Publisher's interests (James Huesmann) Marcia Tuttle 08 Jul 1996 20:23 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 15:05:33 -0600
From: James Huesmann <huesmanj@LHL.LIB.MO.US>
Subject: Publisher's interests

>Al Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM> writes:
>I don't feel that publishers' interests should concern librarians as much
>as service to researchers, faculty, and students. Publishers have lots of
>options not available to researchers. They can get out of research and
>publish computer books or romance fiction instead. Many university presses
>have expanded into publishing trade books for a popular audience.
>Publishers have capped their editorial coverage; as a result, new
>publishers emerge to fill these editorial gaps! Many publishers in
>research extract very substantial subsidies from authors whose careers
>depend on having their research published.

        I really doubt that you'd see Elsevier, G&B, and others who've made
tidy sums in the STM market switch over to publishing romantic fiction!  And
as long as we continue to see journal inflation rates that are 3-6 times
inflation, and glowing financial reports on profits for publishers, we'll
continue to be concerned about publisher's interests, thank you very much.
However, I do agree that, unless the "publish(lots of stuff)-or-perish"
becomes "publish-good-stuff-or-perish", that publishers will be able to
extract subsidies from authors in excess of copyright, free editing,
reviewing, etc..  The questions is, will university adminsitrations realize
that they're giving away the family jewels, then buying them back?  Some

>The reason I said never mind publishers is because I am particularly
>concerned that the interests and concerns of researchers, faculty, and
>students, are so rarely considered on this forum. I am concerned with my
>impression that some librarians disregard or discount the input of
>faculty. I am concerned about librarians trying to blame publishers,
>rather than academic policy, for the increases in pages / prices generated
>by increased research activity.

        I am concerned that you have these concerns.  Most of these folks do
not have the political power on campus that equals a faculty member - ask
any academic librarian you meet about books being pulled from cataloging, or
journals that NEVER get used being purchased because of political reasons,
or the multitudes that have all the responsibility of faculty members but
not all the perks.  Any academic librarian that ignores the interests and
concerns of  faculty and students at his or her institution does so at their
own peril.  Worse, they miss a golden opportunity to recruit allies and to
gain valuable input about the changing literature of diverse disciplines.
And yes, it does happen.  There are bad apples in every group - even
publishers.  What concerns me more is that somehow you seem to have
forgotten the other problems in the scholarly communication cycle, or even
submit that they don't exist!  The concerns you mention above, in wider
scheme of things, don't amount to much when weighed against the other problems.

James Huesmann
Head, Technical and Automated Services
Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry St.
Kansas City, MO 64110-2498
voice: (816) 926-8704
fax: (816) 926-8790