The State of AAA’s Publishing Program 2012-07-06


“We’ve got some good news and some worrisome news about the state and future of AAA’s publishing program. The good news: At this time, publishing sections are financially healthy, in large part the result of the current revenue sharing arrangement with AAA’s publishing partner, Wiley-Blackwell (W-B). W-B guarantees AAA a royalty payment of roughly $500k per year, out of the net surplus (subscription proceeds in excess of production and marketing costs). This revenue is split 50/50 between publishing sections and the AAA publications office (that includes Anthropology News and American Anthropologist)... The worrisome news: Scholarly publishing is undergoing enormous change as a result of shrinking library budgets, the expansion in the number of new journal titles, new technology, and new end-user expectations. The net result is that the traditional subscriber base (libraries) is shrinking and will continue to do so... The publishing program is complicated, involving various players, 24 publications and sections of different size that produce and distribute a rich array of anthropological content in a way that does not break the bank of individual member households, sections, and AAA as a whole. At the same time, editorial control remains in the hands of editors and their sections, AAA retains copyright, and authors retain liberal rights. Individuals who participate as authors and editors accrue benefits that translate into academic jobs, prestige, promotion, merit increases, tenure, grant support, and office space—tangible and intangible gains. The Anthropological Communication Committee (ACC) and the Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) are key member committees working on two central issues: how to ensure the broadest possible access to publications and how to sustain a diverse range of publications. CFPEP is currently evaluating alternative publishing models in a consultative process with AAA section leaders, editors, members, association officers, the EB and the AAA publishing director to develop five- and ten-year plans for AAA publishing, including but not limited to open access models. Among the possibilities, AAA might consider converting to Gold Open Access (GOA) Publishing... Unanswered questions remain about how open access publishing might work for AAA... The consultative process takes time to think through the consequences—intended and unintended—of such a significant transformation. What would happen to the journals in a GOA publishing program? What would happen to section membership? ‘Free access’ for readers does not mean ‘free from costs’ even if the publisher does not print copies. Who would pay these costs? Authors? If so, would only authors with the means to pay afford to publish? Or would only those who get large grants that cover publishing costs see their articles in print? What would happen to junior scholars, students, and those who don’t work at the top paying institutions, or to the vast majority of anthropologists who don’t get large grants? Would colleges and universities step up to the plate to underwrite section journals? If so, for how long and under what conditions would their support be assured? Will provosts value anthropology, when deciding between engineers and economists for author fees? ... Could AAA raise membership dues to underwrite the publishing program? If so, would there be a drastic drop in membership? Would members feel they are disproportionately supporting access to content that others—regardless of their ability to pay—are getting for ‘free’? ... In reality, only a handful of the top journals (eg, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist) drive subscription revenue. Most likely, the smaller journals—those that represent the more vulnerable and historically underrepresented sections—would struggle to exist. If the smaller journals succumb, the larger publications would no longer need to participate in the association-established portfolio principle that had ensured the survival of all publications... In the name of freedom, would GOA usher in a new ‘survival of the fittest’ era? It seems there may be great costs to ‘free.’ Who is to bear them? ...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.policies oa.licensing oa.comment oa.ssh oa.anthropology oa.copyright oa.societies oa.libraries oa.consultations oa.impact oa.costs oa.prestige oa.librarians oa.budgets oa.indexing oa.wiley-blackwell oa.ratings oa.publishers oa.libre oa.journals



Date tagged:

07/06/2012, 15:11

Date published:

07/06/2012, 15:37