The Future of the University Press

My friends at MPublishing have released a new issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing, guest edited by the director of the University of Michigan Press, Phil Pochoda, and including extremely insightful essays from a number of key thinkers in contemporary scholarly publishing. Jen Howard reports on the issue for the Chronicle, thinking through the issue’s collective implications.

I’m very pleased to see that so many of the predictions and recommendations contained in the JEP issue align with my own, from the final chapter of Planned Obsolescence. It’s my expectation that there will be fewer of what we currently think of as “university presses” in the coming years, as the failure of the press-as-revenue-center model spreads, but that there will be a great increase in university publishing services, as more and more institutions realize that if they are going to require their faculty to publish, they’ve got to take responsibility for providing the means of publication. These publishing services are, true to that label, likely to focus more on a broad range of services and less on producing physical objects for sale. And they’re going to have to be supported, at the faculty level, by real innovation in thinking about how published work is evaluated, and at the administrative level, by an actual functioning budget rather than an expectation of cost recovery.

All of the essays in the JEP issue are worth attending to; I hope that faculty and administrators will do so, and will press these conversations forward.

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