Presses under pressure 2

May 8, 2008

Your one-sided attack on British academic publishing was a missed opportunity to examine the difficulties publishers face at a time when dwindling library budgets and low incentives for academics to read beyond their own specialisms combine with enormous pressure to publish.

Suggesting that the average British academic might fare better with a trade publisher or an American press is simply irresponsible. Trade publishers commission on the basis of writers' ability to tell a compelling story rather than their research skills. Most do not accept unsolicited proposals and even for writers of literary talent finding an agent is likely to be more time-consuming than waiting for a response from an academic publisher.

American publication works for some, but given the much larger domestic market US publishers do not have to be proactive internationally and authors who have tried this route complain of parochial bias.

Caroline Wintersgill, Senior commissioning editor, Ashgate Publishing.

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