The Death Of The Academic Book And The Path To Open Access

Roxanne Missingham | The Conversation | October 22, 2013

Is publishing academic books a dying trade? And if so, are free e-books from universities likely to deal the final blow?

The future of book publishing in general is hotly contested, but particularly so for university presses. Louise Adler, the head of Melbourne University Publishing recently suggested that the book industry is failing and university presses publishing “Open Access” – or free, reproducible – books are second rate publications which threaten intellectual property rights.

Her analysis is pointed, but ultimately flawed.

Is the scholarly book industry dying?

It is true that print scholarly book sales have declined. Recent research published in the Journal of Electronic Publishing finds that sales now average 200 for each title, as opposed to 2000 in 1980.