Posts Tagged ‘why do we need publishers’

Are publishers middlemen or drivers?

As I engage the issue of open access in anthropology, my position and views continue to change. I am one seriously biased academic, but this doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind often (several times a day even).

Having stalled out on the research front, I went back to some trusty sources to find inspiration. Blogs are a great place to find information, but its rare to find such extensive coverage of a topic as you do on Peter Suber’s Open Access News.

Berg is an academic publisher that has been mentioned a few times in my interviews with professors. One of my professors regularly publishes books through them, and he spoke quite highly of the review process and the ability of Berg to publicize the books.

OA News points to a recent press release by Bloomsbury, a large publisher who recently acquired Berg. The press release states:

“Berg is a market leader in its field having pioneered the concept of fashion theory which is now a course widely taught at universities throughout the world. The company is in the process of creating a major online subscription-based resource, the Berg Fashion Library, for fashion students, lecturers and the broader industry. It is scheduled to be launched in 2010.”

It is interesting to consider the possibility that publishers are a driving force in the academic world, not just a middle man skimming profit from an economically exhausted academic system. Berg claims to have *pioneered* a field. The “fields of care” anthropologists spend time working on are dependent on a lot of different forces. How helpful is it to have publishers advocating certain kinds of research? I suppose there are two poles to look at this – one being that publishers restrict, funnel, and control academic topics – and the other that publishers encourage, promote, and develop academic topics.

Bloomsbury will also be creating Bloomsbury Academic, a new “imprint” (hadn’t heard this term before), which will encourage open access publishing. They write:

“Publications will be available on the Web free of charge and will carry Creative Commons licences. Simultaneously physical books will be produced and sold around the world.

For the first time a major publishing company is opening up an entirely new imprint to be accessed easily and freely on the Internet. Supporting scholarly communications in this way our authors will be better served in the digital age.”

Can open access and capitalism get along? Maybe… just maybe.

[prior to internet publishing, publishers were essential for distribution]

[publishers can drive research fields]

[what is an imprint?]

[interrelationship between academics, disciplines, research topics, and publishers]   –>  possibly related to savageminds discussion of “fields of care”.

[I’d love to tie this into the kinds of fields Bourdieu discussed (my bourdieu readings are no longer fun at all, and I’m sort of lost. ) Thankfully Dr. Postill is hard at work liberating social fields from the archives of bad translations. I’m still too unsure of my understanding to make use of it (and I’ve read three Bourdieu books so far… + a number of essays), but i’m working on it]

[long live tags in brackets]