[Marxism] Fwd: Essay on ideas about luxury and university presses @insidehighered

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jun 26 06:36:33 MDT 2014

So here’s a thesis. If there truly is a crisis in scholarly publishing, 
it has arisen from this fundamental first cause: the end of the era in 
which institutions sponsoring presses saw the publishing of scholarship 
as something near to the heart of their core mission, and deserving to 
be supported on those terms. Result: What was never intended to be a 
system left to the vicissitudes of the market has become exactly that. 
Scholarly books have become high-priced, prestige-driven luxury goods 
not by accident, but by forgetfulness.

Symptoms of this shift abound. Presses unable to break even are closed, 
or severely curtailed, as universities refocus on “strategic 
priorities." Book prices rise at a rate far higher than inflation in 
order to cover publishers’ fixed costs as institutional subventions 
vanish. Authors are chosen not so much on the basis of prize-winning, 
promising early work but rather because they can command the services of 
a literary agent.


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