Continuing our coverage of University Press Week, readers may be interested in a recent conversation between Kathryn Conrad, president of the Association of University Presses and founder and editor of the New Books Network, Marshall Poe, about (what else?) university presses.
Good question! The answer is complicated and if we have any acquisitions librarians reading, I hope they will weigh in. E-books and e-book aggregating databases are so new that initially presses and aggregators had to guess what appropriate pricing would be. As we accumulated experience and e-book collections became increasingly important in library collections plans, it became clear that presses were losing print sales while e-book sales were not making up the difference.
The assertion that "presses earn much less per title [from e-book databases] than for print volumes" is interesting—and worth exploring. If library purchases continue to shift towards these databases, you would expect the per-title revenue to balance out a bit. (Note that we're talking about per-title, not per-sale, revenue.) . But per-title revenue from one format or another has to do not only with the number of customers buying in that format but also the retail price per unit for that format. Do presses not have any leverage to charge more for e-books available through databases?
Recently, four pieces of news about publishing came to my attention. The conjuncture struck me as illuminating some of the key problems besetting the current scholarly publishing ecosystem.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the importance of diversity and equity in peer review, but concerns about who gets to create, curate, distribute, and preserve knowledge extend far beyond the moment of peer review.
Thank you very much for your reply, David! I've added the Political Science Rumors website to the Peer Review Resources page as a reference tool and a resource that we can draw further conversation from.