Sunday, June 21, 2009

Open Access and Academic Publishing, Again

by J J Cohen

Graham Harman is a philosopher whose blog (Object-Oriented Philosophy) I've been enjoying for several months, after Michael O'Rourke steered me towards the site. Harman's new book Prince of Networks is just out at, a "dedicated philosophy press" that simultaneously publishes its works in hard copy and in open-access electronic versions. In fact you can follow my link and download Harman's book for free right now.

Check out the mission statement, and read about their remarkably forward-thinking open access policy, and then answer this question for me: why don't medievalists have an option like this one? I hate the fact that the last monograph I published at Palgrave costs $85 and is now out of print for the second time due to their small print runs. Overpriced books and lack of open access are a big problem for humanists (see a discussion we had a while back here, and this related post from Modern Medieval).

Another thing to like about they publish internationally, but think locally as well. Here is their philosophy about cover art:
But true thought also begins locally, in images and signs that may as yet have no recognisable reference or import.' head offices are located in the city of Melbourne, Australia. And Melbourne is, as the art-critic Norbert Loeffler has remarked, one of the great art-cities of the world - without anybody knowing it. Lacking the established power, media and reputation of traditional centres of world art, Melbourne forces its artists to sustain themselves otherwise. Aware of contemporary work from all over the world, local artists transmute it for their own, often-obscure purposes, into unprecedented forms. seeks, like an insatiable kleptoparasite, to draw off some of this aesthetic power for its own ends, by using their images for its cover-art.
Support of the local arts as well as conscientious publishing and maximum dissemination of work? Pinch me.


Karl Steel said...

Wonderful! We do need something like this. Exactly like this. Exactly this.

This old world is a new world said...

Melbourne is, as the art-critic Norbert Loeffler has remarked, one of the great art-cities of the world - without anybody knowing it.

Heh heh. Another set of reasons for people to make that short 15-20 hour flight to my fair city.

Though I have to admit I don't know this press, and couldn't find the names of its directors, I do know a bunch of those names (Clemens, Papaellinas, Boucher, Hecq) that have, or have had connections with my department; and these are top scholars and writers. Independent publishing in Australia is a risky business: anything at all successful will soon be swallowed up. But all power to!

Eileen Joy said...

re:press is a model for everything I have been hoping for a long time could be true about academic publishing; pinch me, indeed.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Ok, I will pinch yall: PINCH!

Now I know this is a late comment on a question you have deeply considered and probably already answered, but how did it happen that Postmedieval is NOT open access? Seems like a crime. Or perhaps you are planning a nomadic leap the likes of which has yet to be seen?

Karl Steel said...

in re: postmedieval. Eileen could answer that, but I imagine the answer's Palgrave-related.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Or rather the question. i.e. why palgrave, or why not not-palgrave.