Academic publication negotiation

Some of us are academics or authors or publishers. This might be interesting.

Note: I am not endorsing anything other than some mindfulness and Good Livelihood and N8FP; it is my opinion (which I think is orthodox) that every individual needs to work out what those require of their life for themselves.

May all have happiness, peace, equanimity, and all the requisites to move towards them.


The academic publishing business really is a sort of sanctioned racket, particularly where journals are involved. Journal publishers essentially get their content for free and then charge huge institutional subscription rates to academic institutions and libraries. This has been noted and is a well-known fact of how academia operates in much of the world.

Of course, the system was put into place when universities and colleges started to make tenure dependent on scholarly output. Everyone (or nearly everyone) is familiar with the phrase “publish or perish.” Academic publishers understand that they have a captive group of authors whose jobs depend on getting published.

On the other hand, as with any commercial transaction, one can ask, who is exploiting whom? Does an art collector who pays a huge sum for a Picasso feel ripped off? What about the person selling the Picasso through an auction house and forks over a large percentage of the sale to what is essentially a middleman?

In some ways, academics who otherwise would have an extremely small audience for their scholarship are taking advantage of the fact that there are publishers willing to get their work out to the public. When I was in graduate school I took a class in which the students read what we all considered was a brilliant piece of academic scholarship. The professor teaching the class, who happened to be the editor for the series in which the book appeared, asked us, “How many copies of this book do you think have been sold?” (he would know since he edited the book series). Students volunteered that the book had sold tens of thousands of copies, maybe even more than a hundred thousand. The professor responded dryly, “Three thousand copies.” It was at that point that reality settled in for a classroom of soon-to-be-PhDs that they would never be the next Ernest Hemmingway!


And then there’s this

It dropped, after I created this thread.


Thanks for the info, that was a great twitter thread, and Dr. Truschke is an interesting person to follow on twitter, if you want to be informed about what’s going on in India, past and present.

Given that our “authoritative” information, about Buddhism no less than other things, is passed through the gatekeepers of the Academy, it is important that we understand how things work. She articulates something i have long suspected, but can’t really say as I am an outsider: the academics have a lot more clout than they think. The publishers depend on them, not the other way around.

This is fantastic news. Long live free information!