As university presses stagger in the economic storm, the Australian Book Industry Strategy Group final report (PDF link) suggests a national publically-funded ‘publisher of last resort’…

“Australia needs a National University Press Network to print book and chapter-length research in the humanities and social sciences — research that, being too long for journals and not commercial enough for the struggling publishing industry, might otherwise never see the light of day.”

Personally I would be inclined to get such research out there for free, via blogs and personal websites, Amazon Kindle store, open repositories such as Archive.org, and print-on-demand services such as Lulu or CreateSpace. There seems to me absolutely no excuse for any research “never seeing the light of day” in the digital age, especially if you envisage selling only 50 copies or so. Impact assessment will apparently take little or no notice of where or by whom something was published, in future. So what does a publisher really give you? Proof-reading services, and a little bit of publicity, both things you can buy off-the-shelf from eLance and the like. If you really have to have a proof reader from within the discipline, they can also be found provided you’re willing to pay, among the thousands of humanities lecturers now languishing in unemployment. Even if the ‘buried’ text is somehow still in a yellowing typescript from before the Word processing era, how difficult can it be to pay an undergraduate £50 to scan and OCR it for you?

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