Department Blog

H/SS & Gov Info Services

EBSCO’s 2016 Serials Price Projections

October 7th, 2015 by Adam Siegel

Ebsco, based on conversations with and surveys of libraries, publishers, vendors, and others in the industry, estimates that serials inflation will run 4-6% next year.  The report also notes: “Libraries continue to spend large sums on publisher electronic journal packages (also known as ‘Big Deals,’) which continue to consume a higher percentage of the library spend year over year. Librarians continue to favor the purchase of e-content over print and packaged content over individual subscriptions.”

Ebook Sales Growth Slowing Greatly

June 26th, 2014 by Michael Winter

From a recent article: “Say goodbye to the go-go years of fast-paced ebook growth — at least for now. Ebook growth, once in the triple and double digits, with no signs of abating, has slowed to a crawl in 2013,” writes Jeremy Greenfield in the trade publication dbw/Digital Book World. Nonetheless,  Greenfield added, ebooks, while not currently hot commodities, are still warm; and according to the same article–based on numbers from the Association of American Publishers–“now account for a larger percentage of overall publisher revenues than they ever have.” Ebooks now account for about 27% of adult trade sales.  The same phenomenon has also recently been noted by industry standard, PW/Publishers Weekly.

Intellectual Property Dispute Over the Marx and Engels Corpus

May 5th, 2014 by Michael Winter

According to a recent stories in Bloomberg News and the New York Times, one of the copyright holders of the standard English-language edition of the collected works of Marx and Engels (the U.K. based publisher Lawrence & Wishart) has issued a takedown order to the Marxists Internet Archive; and according to a notice on its site, the Archive has complied by removing any materials published Lawrence & Wishart.

The Book as Social Form: On the Value of Peer-Review and Editorial Critique

July 22nd, 2013 by David Michalski

As the information environment shifts, and new publishing opportunities are presented to researchers, librarians and scholars planning on how to move forward need to reflect on the relationship between the research library, the scholar/author, and the functions of the academic press.

Having sheparded to publication some of the most remarkable academic books of recent years, Ken Wissoker, the editorial director at Duke University Press, is in a good position to explain the added-value the academic press provides to this relationship. And in an insightful blog post, he does just that, focusing on the work behind the scenes that has helped to make Duke University Press as successfull as it has become.

In a world a-buzz over the technologies of self-publishing and research data repositories, Wissoker reminds us of the importance peer review and editorial guidance have on the shape of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Questioning arguments which herald the demise of university press book, he articulates a key difference between a report on one’s research and the proper work of the book.

Publication in the humanities and social sciences isn’t the reporting of research. It’s the production of a compelling argument, based on a combination of research and interpretation.”

By drawing our attention to this process, Wissoker contributes to a wider critique of an industry that too often sees knowledge as the direct result of the exchange of information, and libraries and publishers simply as the machinery of information transfer. By opening up the labor of the editorial and review process, he reveals the social form of the book. Rather than seeing it simply as a physical or digital vessel for content, one that serves as an obstacle between the reader and her or his access to pure research, the book is reimagined as dialogue between facts, interpretations and critical arguments, a conversation that is aided by the work of external reviewers and editors. In this light, the best books in the humanities and social sciences, not only transport facts, but take the reader through the construction of those facts by unfolding both the research process and the relationships which affect its trajectory.

Wissoker’s argument in favor of a broader recognition of the social relationships of knowledge production may positively influence the way we imagine libraries too. It may help us to better organize the information environment of tomorrow by bringing into focus one the library’s most essential roles, its function as a generator and facillitator of compelling arguments.

See Ken Wissoker’s article posted on Scholarly Kitchen here:

For more of Ken Wissoker’s thoughts, see the interviews Adeline Koh has conducted with him for the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “On Monographs, Libraries and Blogging”. See:

We don’t have a price problem, we have a cost problem.

May 8th, 2013 by Michael Winter

Read Richard Poynder’s excellent and thoughtful article on how large research libraries have been receiving their journal content in the form of huge all-inclusive provider-based bundles (the “big deal’ model so loved by the big providers has however not proved to be such a good deal for anyone else). And if you think “Open Access” is the solution to the problem, you should read what the author has to say about that as well.

BBC News Item on the Crisis of Book Publishing

February 4th, 2013 by Michael Winter

From the article: “The printed book risks going the way of the cuneiform tablet, papyrus scroll or vellum parchment, say the doomsayers….but despite the huge growth in e-books in the past few years, the traditional publishing houses are not yet predicting the end of printed book.

In fact, figures for 2012 show that while e-book sales are still on the rise, the rate of decline in print sales has actually slowed.”

“Walking Away From The American Chemical Society”

September 26th, 2012 by Adam Siegel

The word from SUNY Potsdam:

“SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013. We will instead be using a combination of the Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single title subscriptions, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier** to meet our chemical information needs. We’re doing this because the ACS pricing model is unsustainable for our institution and we were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS. Instead, we explored other options and exercised them. You could do the same if you find yourself in a position similar to ours as ACS standardizes their pricing, and maybe together we can make enough choices to make our voices heard in meaningful ways.”

Follow the coverage at the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Opening the Process of Academic Peer Review

July 23rd, 2012 by David Michalski

The Journal of Peer Production, a journal which focuses on the contradictions of peer or collaborative production is itself using an innovative peer-review system to review submissions.

Inspired by a movement called Open Process Publishing, the journal publishes drafts and critical reviews, and author repsponses to her or his critics alongside final presentations. In doing so, they expose to their public some of the the detailed work that goes into editing academic journals.

The aims of this process include achieving more transparency in how editorial decisions are made, creating an atmosphere for more thorough interaction, discussion, and engagement between readers and authors, and generating more energy and pace for scholarly publications.

More info on Open Process Publishing can be found here:

June 15th, 2011 by Michael Winter

Dan Goldstein recently pointed me to a newspaper article reporting that Rimbaud’s famous book Illuminations has been recently retranslated, this time by American poet John Ashberry. The fact that this is news is an indicator of just how soft the U.S. translation market really is, in comparison with other places. France, Germany, and Japan, for ex, have much more robust translation markets than we do, and so the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Salon du Livre in Paris buzz with their comings and goings and the rumors zip around about which property’s translation rights are up for grabs and for how much.  As a result the book publishing scenes of NY and London are greatly enlivened by the presence of the agents of foreign publishers or “scouts,” as they care called, trying to get the jump on various English-language properties. For more of this kind of background on the current state of publishing in the United States and the UK,  see two recent books by John B. Thompson: Books in the Digital Age (2005), and Merchants of Culture (2010), both published by Polity Press. For catalog and location information, see and

Professor Boatema Boateng discusses Copyright in Ghana

April 27th, 2011 by David Michalski

Boatema Boateng, associate professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego, is interviewed by University of Minnesota on her new book, Copyright Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana.
Examining Ghana’s use of intellectual property law to protect adinkra and kente fabrics
In this interview Professor Boateng speaks about the implications of intellectual property law in the efforts to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge.

Author: Boateng, Boatema.
Title: Copyright Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana.
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press.
Date: 2011
Location: Peter J. Shields Library: On Order