Monday, November 12, 2007

A wacky quote in PW, and a mystery

Okay, now here's a news tidbit that made me wonder whassup at university presses. This is from Publisher's Weekly a while back (June), but I just now found it and marveled. Joseph Esposito, who is listed as the founder of a firm called "Portable CEO," and a former executive at Simon & Schuster and Random House, is quoted in the following context: "In an age of diminishing university subsidies to their presses, . . . Esposito emphasized the value of being self-supporting, partly, in Esposito’s words, 'to stay one step ahead of the ax,' but also, he said, 'to make money available for other central activities at the university.'"

Excuuuuuse me? Isn't it enough that universities have put their presses under tremendous pressure to make money, even while charging them with the crucial mission of continuing to publish scholarly work? This nearly impossible task is what gave us those awful faculty subventions in the first place! So now am I correct in reading that some critics say beyond this, university presses should try to earn enough to actually give back to their home universities, rather than having the university subsidize the press? What will happen to scholarly publishing if this is true?

I find this sufficiently hard to believe that I will contact Esposito myself and ask him to clarify. Maybe PW got it wrong (that wouldn't be the first time, although I am a loyal reader). Maybe the quote would sound more sensible in context.

Watch this space for details.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Here is the link to the original article on "The Journal of Elecronic Publishing." It's called "The Wisdom of Oz: The Role of the University Press in Scholarly Communications." The PW post was not incorrect but perhaps misleading when viewed in context. If you want to chat about this, let me know.

Joseph J. Esposito