Publishing and the death-throes of the monograph
The redoubtable Jim West
takes notice of Brill's magnificent sale
. He comments on Ben H.L. van Gessel's Onomasticon of the Hittite Pantheon
Parts One & Two which have a generous discount of over 40% (actually it's part three that is the real bargain if you need it to complete the set, it has a 55% discount - though it will still knock you back 50 euros or US$65)! Jim ungenerously complains at this largesse, or rather takes the opportunity to slam Brill's excessive pricing, asking (rhetorically one hopes in view of Jim's attitude to the trade in cultural artifacts ;):
Does it come with actual artifacts taped to the back cover or something?
It's publishing, Jim, as the early 21st century knows it! Since almost no reputable academic publisher has adopted print on demand, they have to print a "run", for a book like the Hittite Onomasticon they will only sell a few copies, so each must cost a lot.
Up to now libraries have gone along, but increasingly they can't... There is a whole literature out there indicating that the traditional monograph is a dinosaur in the age of mammals...
So, what we need is an academic publisher who breaks the system, using print on demand and a long backlist, to make publication of obscure monographs economic again... (The long backlist would allow, through PoD, a continued income from the dribble of orders that traditional print-once-sell-or-stockpile model does not allow.) This backlist would subsidise the current titles, which would serve as a loss-leader!
Now, having solved the problems of academic publishing, who has a long backlist of obscure but solid scholarship? Hey, Brill does! Come to think of it, nearer "home" so does SBL/Scholar's press, how about it guys?