Academics are being hoodwinked into writing books nobody can buy

How to books get into academic libraries? Photograph: Bob Handelman/Alamy
How to books get into academic libraries? Photograph: Bob Handelman/Alamy

By Stacy Masucci

A scary piece in The Guardian speaks to the value of publisher mission statements.

This article describes the experiment of an anonymous professor who had repeatedly been contacted by a publisher to write a book for them. After seeing bad experiences for his colleagues, he finally decided to play along and see what the company had to offer.

What he experienced was tarnishing to academic publishing. This particular publishing house specializes in high volume (75 titles per AE yearly), high price ($100-$200 per title), low sales (~300 units to libraries only) and the books published generally disappear to a storeroom in the library after having been buried and unseen on the library shelves for a year or so.

Even worse was the acquisition editor conversation that is described in detail in the article. It shows a lack of interest in 1) the author and his research; 2) the field; and 3) the success of the title. Three very important factors of academic publishing.

I can only wonder what the mission statement of this company is, if they even have one, and if so, was it was ever shared with the editor?

Published by

Stacy Masucci

A New York native and lifelong resident, Stacy has been in the publishing industry for 20 years. In September of 2012 she joined Elsevier as a Senior Acquisitions Editor on the biomedical research team publishing content within the Academic Press imprint. She enjoys working with authors and editors, helping them realize their vision to publish works in subjects they are passionate about. She is also energized by the scientific contribution of the works, providing the knowledge, understanding and insight that helps to further medical research.

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