Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, August 20, 2007

More on the AnthroSource move to Wiley-Blackwell

Rex, AnthroSource drops UC Press for Wiley-Blackwell, Savage Minds, August 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

While the news has not been made official yet, many of us have already heard unofficially that AnthroSource is dropping its contract with University of California Press and moving to Wiley-Blackwell. We don’t know much about the deal so far, but at this point a couple of obvious things jump out that are worth mentioning.

First, the University of California press was very author-friendly and interested in exploring new forms of digital scholarship, including ones that attempted to innovate traditional publishing business models. Wiley-Blackwell, on the other hand, is a newly-minted merger of Wiley and Blackwell in which Wiley acquired Blackwell for 572 million pounds, and altogether the new company will publish over one thousand journals. Compared to the UC’s relatively modest journals program, Wiley-Blackwell is clearly ‘big content’ with a capital ‘C’. Library groups opposed the merger writing letters to the Department of Justice and European Commission.

The original goal of AnthroSource was to do something new and innovative—to find a way to transform a scholarly publishing program. While everyone wanted the AAA’s publishing program to be sustainable they wanted to try new ways of achieving this goal, and this was a goal that the University of California Press was interested in exploring with us. The move to Wiley-Blackwell, then, signals that the AAA has given up this goal and decided instead to get into the business of digital publishing in a very traditional model....[A]s one commenter put it in a private email, “This is not only a sad day for scholarly publishing, but a sad commentary on the state of scholarly publishing. By going with Wiley-Blackwell, AnthroSource is destined to be just another electronic journal package, and anthropological scholarship will be no more accessible than during the print era, locked behind closed silos.”

Overall, then, it appears that publishing in anthropology is polarizing into large organizations interested in enforcing scarcity in the digital space and smaller groups trying to find ways to allow scholarship to flourish under the new circumstances that it finds itself. It is a bit sad to find that, as the middle drops out of this field, the AAA has chosen to ally itself with Big Content in this regard....

It will probably be some time before we see any concrete changes in AnthroSource based on this switch. But when we do some of the main issues to track will be:

  • Will the AAA publishing program manage to break even? If so, at what price?
  • What will happen with the current AAA author’s agreement? The AnthroSource Steering Committee worked hard to create an author’s agreement that preserved the author’s right to archive their work. If we see this agreement change, then I think we should all really start panicking....