Possibly the future of academic publishing
November 20, 2013 7:58 AM   Subscribe

...one of the jobs of a publisher, I really believe, is to keep all forms in play, precisely because it is in keeping all forms in play (which forms are themselves always being reshaped in some fashion as they come into contact with each other) -- that creativity has the widest possible purchase on how things might turn out. Eileen Joy, co-director of open-access quasi-scholarly print-on-demand press Punctum Books, gives a talk on the state and future of open-access publishing in the academy and the arts.
posted by shivohum (15 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
No way this could go wrong.
posted by kjs3 at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2013

I'm really pissed at the use of "quasi-scholarly" there. Not sure why it bothers me so much but could you elaborate on why you felt the need to use that term? They call themselves an independent publisher. Do they publish "scholars"? Yes. Then why not say "non-conventional scholarly publisher" or something? What are they doing wrong? No university affiliation or peer review? Are you posting this because you don't think this press is doing a good thing? I don't get it.
posted by mattbucher at 8:43 AM on November 20, 2013

I certainly did not mean it in an insulting sense at all, and I'm sorry if it came off that way. I only used that term because they describe themselves as publishing "across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage." I partly paraphrased that with "quasi" and also used the term to indicate that they might publish more and different material than what might conventionally fall under a scholarly umbrella.
posted by shivohum at 8:50 AM on November 20, 2013

Oh OK, it's just that I see it as a derogatory term--identifying a space between amateurism and professionalism. Stuff like open-access and rejecting DRM and publishing outside the mainstream are often considered so threatening to the establishment that they are automatically derided.

Personally, I think publishing needs more of this outsider and non-conventional stuff--especially on the business side. Most scholarly publishers are still using business models from the 19th century, with ebooks kinda tacked on (which is the point she's making re: Palgrave here). So, of course this risky and utopian but who does it harm?
posted by mattbucher at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2013

An inspiring piece, though I was surprised not to find the issue of double-dipping come up in her discussion of how some commercial presses were handling Open Access. Double-dipping refers to a situation where the publisher is taking money from some authors of a journal to make their individual articles open access, but because not all of the articles in an issue are open access, they continue to charge for the journal. So they are essentially now being paid by some of the authors, and all of the subscribers. Journals that subsidize part of their publication with Open Access author fees should be lowering their subscription rates, but that isn't happening. *surprised face*

I also thought she was too dismissive of some of the university press experimentation with shorter pieces. She says she'd like established academic publishers to experiment, but then seems to be mocking those very experiments.

By the way, I was at a scholarly communication conference a couple of weeks ago and heard a librarian rail against Kindle Singles (their electronic short piece program), specifically because they made course reserves of such material dependent of the purchase of actual Kindles, loaded with that article, and then lent to patrons. She was so annoyed at the practice, particularly by the Ted Talks folks, that she went directly to the the Ted organization and taught them how to write and negotiate an educational-use license. Some librarians ought to wear capes!

Also, Dr. Joy really seems to like em dashes and the parenthetical. I always think I over use them, but reading that made me feel that there's nothing wrong with my (over?)dependence on them. She also needs to bring her personal website into the 21st century. That page had a real GeoCities feel about it, unless that's just for irony.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Is there a reason she seems to have included digital overwriting? What's the word for that again, when a word is written on top of another word, obscuring both? It feels like the sort of thing a medieval scholar might do deliberately, to evoke a badly copied manuscript.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:21 AM on November 20, 2013

posted by IndigoJones at 9:38 AM on November 20, 2013

Punctum books publishes work by the side project of Grizzly Bear. I don't know how scholarly their work is but it certainly isn't academic.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2013

Punctum books publishes work by the side project of Grizzly Bear. I don't know how scholarly their work is but it certainly isn't academic.

By that logic, if Bloomsbury Academic publishes a book by John Darnielle, they certainly aren't academic anymore. University presses publish tons of trade books not written by academics.
posted by mattbucher at 10:50 AM on November 20, 2013

Bloomsbury Academic does not publish the 33 1/3 series, Amazon has a misprint.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2013

I'm wrong, nevermind.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:04 AM on November 20, 2013

mattbutcher: Personally, I think publishing needs more of this outsider and non-conventional stuff--especially on the business side.

I totally agree.
It's also important not to give your enemies easy ammunition
Punctum press could do itself a big favor by rewriting/ditching the tortuously twee "Credo" on its website:

"punctum books seeks to pierce and disturb the wednesdayish, business-as-usual protocols of both the generic university studium and its individual cells or holding tanks. We solicit and pimp quixotic, sagely mad engagements with textual thought-bodies. This is a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds."
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2013

@anotherpanacea: Are you thinking of palimpsest?
posted by Gotanda at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2013

Yes! Thanks. What's with the palimpsests?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:05 PM on November 20, 2013

posted by Casuistry at 5:48 PM on November 21, 2013

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