An Upbeat Winter Institute—With Some Caveats

31 January 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

Winter Institute, which American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher has called “some of the most significant few days in our calendar,” drew 1,000 attendees to Memphis the week of January 22, including more than 680 booksellers from all 50 states.

. . . .

“For more than five years now, our channel has seen sustained growth—the result of your clear focus on ongoing professional development, tireless work, and continued entrepreneurial innovation,” Teicher told booksellers. He acknowledged that some stores continue to face challenges, particularly as retail dollars continue to shift online. But he assured booksellers, “Our advocacy on your behalf regarding a level playing field will continue as a major priority for 2018.”

. . . .

In addition to working for a playing field on which physical and online stores are treated equally, other bookseller priorities emerged over the course of the conference’s four days—among them the need for diversity in the book business. As Hannah Oliver Depp of Word Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., a member of the ABA Task Force on Diversity, noted, “We’ve made a lot of progress, and we have a lot further to go.”

Keynoter Junot Díaz also pushed booksellers to do more for diverse books. In a powerful address, which he titled “In the Time of the Wolf and Fox I Dream of Books” (the “wolf” being conservative whites and the “fox” liberals), he elicited many tears and a standing ovation. Díaz criticized the book industry for being a business in which predominantly white gatekeepers publish predominantly white authors. It’s imperative, he said, for booksellers and librarians, who are on the front lines, to “stop talking about diversity and start decolonizing our shelves.” On behalf of the next generation, he called for “new stories where every single one of us can find ourselves.”

Amazon’s growing dominance in many aspects of our lives, not just books, was also a significant concern. For Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett in Farmington, Maine, one of the most threatening aspects of that dominance is the erosion of list price. “One thing I hear is, ‘What are you charging for this book?’ ” he said. “We’re in a competing narrative with Amazon. There’s a narrative we need to share. The antitrust laws are just paper, or whatever, without the will to do something about it.”

. . . .

Booksellers should be able to pay their staff a living wage and not have to work long hours or take a second job to do so, she said. “I know publishers that make good profits,” she added. “It would be nice if they could give us an extra percentage.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Be ruthless about protecting writing days

22 October 2019

Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.

~ J.K. Rowling

Behind the Red Star over China

26 September 2019

While PG was checking some facts for his post about Red Star Over China which appears immediately below this one, he found the following account from The China Daily:

A senior at Yenching University in Beijing (then Beiping) in 1936, I was preparing for the mid-June final exams when the American journalist Edgar Snow revealed to me his secret plans to head for northern Shaanxi.

He had just been granted permission by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to visit the revolutionary base. Snow and I became close friends because of his hearty support for the Beiping student movement in December, which called on the nation to rise in resistance against Japanese invasion.

He asked me if I was willing to be his interpreter, because his Chinese was not good enough to carry out his reporting task.

What an opportune offer! We progressive students had closely followed the news of the Red Army, and the thought of going to northern Shaanxi to join the Red Army had run through my mind.

. . . .

A few days after Snow left, Helen [Snow, Edgar Snow’s wife] notified me she had received a cable from her husband that I could take off as planned. I slipped out of the campus with a small leather suitcase. I left everything in my dorm intact and informed no one, classmate or relative, of my departure.

. . . .

I looked for Snow as previously arranged. He was staying at the Xijing (West Capital) Inn, the only modern and top-class hotel in town then. When I entered his room, I met another Westerner. Snow introduced him as George Hatem, an American physician.

Like Snow, Hatem had been recommended by Madam Soong Ching Ling to visit northern Shaanxi. Hatem was to devote his entire life to the development of public health in the Soviet region and later in New China. We became close friends too.

Snow and Hatem left for Yenan on a military truck, accompanied by a colonel of the Northeast Army and a CPC liaison officer in the Northeast Army.

I stayed behind to wait for the next underground liaison man to take me to northern Shaanxi.

. . . .

There were CPC liaison men working at Yang’s headquarters. They partly facilitated travels between Xi’an and Bao’an, where the headquarters of the Red Army was located.

But there were also the secret agents of the Kuomintang’s Central Army and its special forces for the “extermination of the Communist bandits.”

I was staying on the hotel’s second floor. One day, two thugs who claimed to be from the Kuomintang’s provincial department came upstairs and wanted to force their way into my room.

I blocked the door and chit-chatted with them. I mentioned a classmate of mine being the daughter of a high-ranking Kuomintang general and my mission to survey the local banking sector. They were impressed and I was able to send them away along with two other plainclothes men downstairs.

Three days later, I set off with three others, riding in a military truck. We were all dressed in uniforms that resembled those of the colonel of the Northeast Army who accompanied us.

The distance from Xi’an to Yenan was about 300 kilometres, so the trip took us more than two days by truck. We finally reached the area guarded by the Red Army after passing through various check-points and later walking in darkness and hunger for 20 kilometres.

. . . .

On July 21, I was elated to see Zhou Enlai, for whom I had long cherished respect. He was then vice-chairman of the Military Commission of the CPC’s Central Committee.

Brandishing a thick beard and dressed in a grey army uniform, he extended his hand to welcome us with a smile.

We arrived at Bao’an County (Zhidan County today) after a day’s journey and I was reunited with Snow and Hatem.

Snow told me he had had several interviews with Chairman Mao Zedong. Mao spoke mostly about the current situation in China and the CPC’s efforts to form a national united front in the fight against Japanese aggression, as well as its preparations for national resistance. He also told Snow his personal history.

Snow felt he had gathered a rich load of information. In fact, he had already used up several notebooks. Afraid that he might have missed out on some major policy issues and names of people and places, he wanted me to help him check and make enquiries, if necessary.

Along with another colleague, I went to see Chairman Mao.

Mao told me he had received the journal with Lu Xun’s letter forwarded by Zhou Enlai, and he was very happy that Lu Xun had made such a high evaluation of the Red Army’s struggles.

. . . .

At the town of Wuqi, where the Red Army’s arsenal and several factories were situated, and at its maintenance base, Helianwan, Snow interviewed many workers, managerial personnel and engineers. He took exhaustive notes of the answers he got, including those about the women workers’ pay and maternity leave.

In late August, Snow was about to head for the front in Ningxia. There, the Red Army was confronted by 200,000 Kuomintang troops and battles were frequent. I accompanied Snow when he went to say goodbye to Chairman Mao. Snow suggested that he take a photo of the Chairman.

As we stepped out of the cave, Mao looked quite smart in the sun. His clothes were neat but his hair was somewhat ruffled. So Snow took off his own brand new army cap with the red star and suggested the Chairman wear it. This was a shot that Snow was most proud of and which had become well known to most Chinese people.

. . . .

During the interviews, Snow explored into CPC’s national salvation programme, its military strategy and tactics, its united front policy and measures, its policy towards prisoners of war, its policy towards ethnic minorities, its religious policy, its stand on the land revolution, on the marriage system, its policy on industry and commerce, its logistics and so on and so forth.

He told me that he had found answers to all of the 90 questions he had listed before his trip.

He said he’d gathered many lively impressions and gained a much deeper understanding of the Red Army and they were totally different from the bandits that Chiang Kai-shek tried to make them out to be.

. . . .

Early in September of 1936, news came that one of Chiang Kai-shek’s crack armies had moved from Zhengzhou, Henan Province, to Xi’an and Lanzhou. This was a clear Kuomintang attempt to form an encirclement to crack down on the coming junction of the Red Army’s three main forces.

Snow must therefore leave northern Shaanxi before any possible interruption of the road to Xi’an, otherwise he might not be able to return to Beijing and use the precious materials he had gathered through his interviews to write his envisioned book.

On September 7, Snow was getting ready to leave Yuwangbao for Bao’an. It was time for Snow, Hatem and I to part company. While the horses and guides were waiting, the three of us warmly embraced one another.

The first thing Snow did after returning to Beiping was to send dispatches to newspapers in the United States and Britain.

Snow’s book, “Red Star over China,” was translated into Chinese in 1938 by a few underground Communists and published in the foreign concession in Shanghai by a publisher pen-named Fu She.

To escape Kuomintang’s censorship, it was renamed “Travels to the West” to look like a travelogue. Widely distributed and read by progressive intellectuals, it became a powerful weapon against Kuomintang’s news blackout and its baseless anti-Communist smears.

Link to the rest at The China Daily

Here’s a copy of the photo of Mao wearing Snow’s cap mentioned in the OP:

This was a shot that Snow was most proud of and which had become well known to most Chinese people. [China Daily]

Google Refuses to Pay for News Links in France

25 September 2019

From The Wall Street Journal:

Google said it would refuse to pay for licenses for previews of French news articles when the European Union’s new copyright directive goes into effect here next month, the first concrete signal for how the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to implement the divisive measure.

Rather than paying, Google said it would show only headlines in news results, as permitted under the new copyright law, unless a publication gives Google additional permission to show preview text and thumbnail images for free.

“We don’t pay for links to be included in search results. Doing so would not only skew the results we might provide but it would undermine the trust that users have in search and Google,” Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news, said in a conference call with reporters.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

PG suggests that the European newspapers have more influence over European Union politicians than Google does.

PG further suggests that Google understands more about what drives click-throughs than the European newspaper executives do. PG further suggests that the newspapers will cave before Google does.

Reader, I Googled It

3 September 2019

From The New Yorker:

A physical book is good for much more than reading. In our house, we have several large art books propping up a movie projector. A thin paperback is wedged under a couch leg in a spot where our old floors are especially uneven. One summer we pressed wildflowers between the pages of a gigantic book about the Louvre, and later used it to flatten out a freshly purchased Radiohead poster. I am not the first person to choose a large, sturdy book as an impromptu cutting board: the cover of the Exeter Book, a tenth-century repository of Anglo-Saxon literature, bears knife marks from what looks like chopping. Stains on its ancient vellum suggest that, like the big atlas of Vermont in our living room, it was also possibly used as a drink coaster. Twenty years ago, I had a very large bump on my wrist. The doctor examined it and told me it was a harmless fluid deposit—nothing to worry about. His remedy, delivered cheerfully in a French accent, has stuck with me: “Slam it with a book.”

As Leah Price suggests in her brisk new study, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading” (Basic), physical books—which, ten or so years ago, many fretted might soon be obsolete—show no signs of going away. Nobody would try to pop a cyst with a Kindle or prop open a window with a phone.

I am writing this on a laptop in a room designed almost entirely for reading physical books—a room that now bears “the ghostly imprint of outdated objects,” as Price puts it. Prolonged arrangement of the body in relation to a book seems to require a whole range of supporting matter—shelves, lamps, tables, “reading chairs”—not strictly necessary for the kinds of work a person does on a screen. Take away the book and the reader, and the whole design of the room starts to feel a little sad, the way a nursery feels once the baby grows up. Insert, where the reader was, a person on his device, and function becomes décor—which, Price suggests, is what books now are for many of us. As their “contents drift online,” books and reading environments have been imbued “with a new glamor,” turned into symbols of rich sentience in a world of anxious fidgeting. When Wallace Stevens, the supreme poet of winter dusk, celebrated the “first light of evening,” it was likely a reading lamp. The glow of a screen as darkness encroaches seems, by comparison, eerie and malevolent.

But it was never the books as objects that people worried would vanish with the advent of e-readers and other personal devices: it was reading itself. The same change was prophesied by Thomas Edison, at the dawn of the movie age. People fretted again with the advent of the radio, the TV, and home computers. Yet undistracted reading didn’t perish the moment any of these technologies were switched on. This is in part because, as Price argues, it never exactly existed to begin with. Far from embodying an arc of unbroken concentration, books have always mapped their readers’ agitation—not unlike the way a person’s browsing history might reveal a single day’s struggle, for example, to focus on writing a book review.

. . . .

Price, who has taught English at Cambridge, Harvard, and Rutgers universities, is the founding director of the Rutgers Book Initiative, a wide-ranging venture that promotes book history at universities and libraries. She is not an elegist for print: her extraordinary grasp of every development in book history, from incunabula to beach reads, monasteries to bookmobiles, suggests that a love of printed matter need not be a form of nostalgia. She warns of the danger of turning books into a “bunker,” a place to wait out the onslaught of digital life. Print, she reminds us, was itself once a destabilizing technology.

In Price’s radical view, a book might act something like a switchboard, connecting readers who connect to it. Though Price’s title riffs on the famous Raymond Carver short-story collection, substituting “books” for “love,” the most important word is, in fact, “talk.” Her book, and my review, and the attention you bring to both, are examples of the very kind of “talk” across every conceivable platform that Price finds so plentiful and so encouraging in the digital age. What we now possess, in her mostly cheery view, are “places and times” in which readers can “have words with one another.” These infrastructures, as Price calls them, do more to “shape reading” than “whether we read in print or online or in some as-yet-unimagined medium.” And these reading infrastructures are more varied and more durable than ever before, even if people are reading on their devices. The important thing is the “interactions through which we get our hands on books,” as well as those that “awaken a desire for them.”

. . . .

Books themselves were viewed by some Victorians as dangerous vehicles of contagion. Certain libraries still have the weird antiseptic feeling of a hospital ward. And they tend to reproduce the hierarchies of whatever community they serve.

. . . .

Independent bookstores—which suffered under the proliferation of giant Barnes & Noble and Borders stores in the nineties, then again with the triumph of Amazon—are now on the rise in much of the United States. They survive partly on popular—and lucrative—authors’ readings. These events have the effect of making an object often prized because it is perfectly standardized and reproducible into a unique keepsake. A visiting author signs piles of books that then usually cannot be returned to the publisher. The signature makes the book simultaneously worthless and priceless; most good bookstores have signed copies on their shelves for this reason. Inevitably, these signed copies, possessions that can only exist in the world of objects, appear on social media.

. . . .

When a book sits next to the Internet, its authority as the final word on anything is automatically undermined. With a few keystrokes, I found out that Hemingway’s copy of “Ulysses” may have been used more extensively than Price suggests. (A 2014 scholarly paper by John Beall, available as a PDF, finds that, on the basis of the number of cut pages in his copy, Hemingway “probably read well over two-thirds” of the book.) Price’s drive to make her book as current as possible—she marks the date of its completion as “late in 2018”—suggests that its nature is also to be quickly superseded, like a Farmers’ Almanac.

Her radiant descriptions of the physical properties of books, the forensic traces—from smudges to candle wax—of earlier bodies holding them, immediately sent me to the Internet, where I viewed, up close, papal indulgences printed by Gutenberg and the first vegetarian cookbook in English, “Vegetable Cookery,” from 1833. The Internet excels at images of print, so vivid they feel tangible. Where the print object is too rare or fragile to be seen in person, in such detail, the effect is profound.

Throughout Price’s book, I thought of Emily Dickinson, whose handwritten poems, sometimes inscribed on scavenged paper, have suffered so much by being printed and bound. To understand the power of those poems, you have to see Dickinson’s script (like “fossil bird-tracks” across the white of the page, as the author and minister Thomas Wentworth Higginson put it). Dickinson resisted publication, perhaps because it was synonymous with print, which renders every space and every dash, no matter its handwritten span, as the same conventional length. The online Emily Dickinson archive fixes that problem, and allows you to zoom in so tightly that you can often make out threads of the paper fibre in the office stationery she sometimes used. Even when you see an original Dickinson manuscript under a magnifying glass, you cannot come that close.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

Perhaps PG has spent too many hours over too many years with digital devices and the information they provide to understand the angst over the possibility that physical books may continue to decline in popularity to the point where they become museum objects.

PG is completely satisfied and comfortable with ebooks. While he understands that many readers are not, he confidently predicts most will become econverts in the foreseeable future.

As one illustration of the advantages of ebooks for PG, he reads for pleasure every day. Such pleasure-reading usually takes place in the evening, quite often while he is lying in bed. Whatever he is reading is propped on his chest. For him, the whisp of a Kindle is barely felt. Turning a page involves a thumb tap instead of a two-handed process that briefly interrupts his reading.

As with some readers of any age, but more commonly for those of a certain maturity, PG’s neck can become a bit sore when he lies on his back with his head propped up on a pillow for a long time.

Instead, with his featherweight ereader, PG can lie flat on his back and read in perfect comfort for many hours.

Reading while flat on his back does require one additional inexpensive non-electronic device which increases PG’s dorky appearance index a thousand-fold when he is using it. Mrs. PG has charitably accepted this device, but PG would never expect anyone else to do so.

Click here to see what the device looks like, then return.


Click here to see what a person using this device looks like, laugh all you like, then return.


The device does fit over PG’s prescription computer glasses, so it is impaired-vision-friendly. It is also cheap. As mentioned, PG is able to read quite comfortably with his Kindle resting on his chest instead of being held above it as the photo depicts.

PG is finally free from the worry that an unscrupulous person might creep into his bedroom while he is reading, snap a cellphone photo and blackmail him by threatening to post the image online.

Open Access Publishing

19 August 2019

Based upon a comment to another post, PG refreshed his high-level knowledge of open-access academic journals.

From The Lloyd Sealy Library at The City University of New York:

Peter Suber has written extensively about open access,

“Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free
of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) ‘s definition:

“Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.”

. . . .

Open access (OA) can be green, gold, gratis or libreGreen OA refers to authors’ self archiving their work on their own web or social media site, in their institution’s repository, or in a discipline based repository.  Gold OA refers to an article that is freely accessible on the journal’s website; the journal may be fully open access, or a hybrid with some articles freely available and others behind a paywall. Gratis open access articles can be accessed by anyone without any monetary charge.  Libre open access articles may be accessed and re-used without restrictions.

. . . .

The BBB Declarations; Budapest, Berlin, Bethesda:

The Budapest Open Access Initiative 2002 (BOAI, a declaration drawn up at a meeting sponsored by Soros’ Open Society Institute) defined open access to academic articles thus:  By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles...”  Self-archiving and open access journals were the means suggested. Subsequent declarations from Berlin (2003) and Bethesda (2003) expanded and elaborated on the call for open access.  Subsequent “Berlin” meetings on campaigning & orchestrating for open access have been held, including the latest, Berlin 12, held in December 2015.

Ten years on from the Budapest Open Access Initiative: setting the default to open (2012):   “Ten years of experience lead us to reaffirm the definition of OA introduced in the original BOAI:

By “open access” to [peer-reviewed research literature], we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

Recommendations for the next ten years. (BOAI, 2012).  New guidelines issued on the tenth anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

“Every institution of higher education should have a policy assuring that peer-reviewed versions of all future scholarly articles by faculty members are deposited in the institution’s designated repository….that future theses and dissertations are deposited upon acceptance in the institution’s OA repository…require deposit in the repository for all research articles to be considered for promotion, tenure, or other forms of internal assessment and review… We recommend CC-BY or an equivalent license as the optimal license for the publication, distribution, use, and reuse of scholarly work…”

. . . .

Authors: Choose the right journal for your research.

Think, Check, Submit! There are reputable journals that are completely open or have open access options.  But there are other journals you should avoid.  Choose carefully.  Think before submitting your manuscript to an unfamiliar journal – – publishing in a predatory journal may damage your reputation.

. . . .

What about author fees? The Eigenfactor Index of Open Access Fees compares author charges with the influence of the journal. Price doesn’t always buy prestige in open access.

Link to the rest at The Lloyd Sealy Library at The City University of New York

From Science Magazine at The American Association for the Advancement of Science:

How I became easy prey to a predatory publisher

I was nursing my wounds from my latest manuscript rejection when the email arrived. I was about 2 years into my assistant professorship, with the tenure clock running at full speed, and the pressure to publish was immense. I knew that navigating rejection was part of the job, but I was also starting to wonder whether my study—a modest project designed to be feasible with the minimal lab space and skeleton crew of a new professor—would ever see the light of day. So when I received the email from a newly launched journal inviting me to publish with them, I saw a lifeline. That’s when my troubles started.

I had heard about “predatory” journals during my graduate training but had no experience with them. The email appeared legitimate. It spelled my name correctly, referenced some of my previous work, and used correct grammar. The journal wasn’t on Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers. I thought I had done my due diligence. I submitted my manuscript. Shortly after, I celebrated the first round of favorable reviews. Things were going great—or so I thought.

Maybe it was the daily emails requesting my revisions, but something started to seem off. I rechecked Beall’s list—still nothing. I found that a postdoc at my institution was listed on the journal’s website as a member of the editorial board. I sent him an email asking about his experience with the journal, hoping he would confirm its legitimacy. That’s when the roof started to cave in. My colleague explained that he had never actually worked with the journal. He eventually realized that it wasn’t a reputable publication, but he hadn’t been able to get his name removed from the website. Then a trusted mentor suggested that I check up on the parent publisher. There it was, on Beall’s infamous list. My stomach tightened. I had fallen prey to a predatory journal. I worried that publishing in such a journal could hurt my tenure case and harm my reputation as a scientist.

I asked the journal to withdraw my manuscript from review, figuring that was the logical next step. They demanded that I justify my decision and debated my right to withdraw, insisting that I pay at least $400 to do so. After an exchange of emails—akin to “no way,” “yes way,” and “no way”—and one phone call demanding payment, I informed the journal that we were at an impasse and diverted all correspondence to the trash. I submitted the manuscript to a demonstrably legitimate journal, believing that I had put the mess behind me.

. . . .

That is, until a few months later, when I noticed an email in my spam folder from the predatory journal congratulating me on my recent publication and requesting payment. I googled the title of my manuscript and found that it had indeed been published. I was horrified: My manuscript had been in review at the legitimate journal for months, and this revelation would jeopardize its publication.

Link to the rest at Science Magazine at The American Association for the Advancement of Science

PG thinks Open Access to the products of academic research is a great idea, particularly if the research is directly or indirectly funded or subsidized by taxpayer money.

However, publications that require payment from the author for inclusion in the publication are (in PG’s humbly educated opinion) akin to vanity presses and, evidently, subject to the temptations that drive sleazy vanity press operations in the non-academic world to fleece authors who wander into their clutches.

From Nature:

Spam e-mails changed the life of Jeffrey Beall. It was 2008, and Beall, an academic librarian and a researcher at the University of Colorado in Denver, started to notice an increasing flow of messages from new journals soliciting him to submit articles or join their editorial boards. “I immediately became fascinated because most of the e-mails contained numerous grammatical errors,” Beall says. He started browsing the journals’ websites, and was soon convinced that many of the journals and their publishers were not quite what they claimed. The names often sounded grand — adjectives such as ‘world’, ‘global’ and ‘international’ were common — but some sites looked amateurish or gave little information about the organization behind them.

Since then, Beall has become a relentless watchdog for what he describes as “potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”, listing and scrutinizing them on his blog, Scholarly Open Access. Open-access publishers often collect fees from authors to pay for peer review, editing and website maintenance. Beall asserts that the goal of predatory open-access publishers is to exploit this model by charging the fee without providing all the expected publishing services. These publishers, Beall says, typically display “an intention to deceive authors and readers, and a lack of transparency in their operations and processes”.

Beall says that he regularly receives e-mails from researchers unhappy about their experiences with some open-access journals. Some say that they thought their papers had been poorly peer reviewed or not peer reviewed at all, or that they found themselves listed as members of editorial boards they had not agreed to serve on. Others feel they were not informed clearly, when submitting papers to publishers, that publication would entail a fee — only to face an invoice after the paper had been accepted. According to Beall, whose list now includes more than 300 publishers, collectively issuing thousands of journals, the problem is getting worse. “2012 was basically the year of the predatory publisher; that was when they really exploded,” says Beall. He estimates that such outfits publish 5–10% of all open-access articles.

. . . .

Beall says that he has been the target of vicious online comments, and last December he was the subject of an online campaign to create the false impression that he was extorting fees from publishers to re-evaluate their status on his list. The Canadian Center of Science and Education, a company based in Toronto that publishes many open-access journals and is on Beall’s list, is now threatening to sue him for alleged defamation and libel. But even some experts in scholarly publishing are uncomfortable with Beall’s blacklist, arguing that it runs the risk of lumping publishers that are questionable together with those that could be bona fide start-ups simply lacking experience in the publishing industry. Matthew Cockerill, managing director of BioMed Central, an open-access publisher based in London, says that Beall’s list “identifies publishers which Beall has concerns about. These concerns may or may not be justified.”

. . . .

As a research librarian, Beall has been in prime position to watch the dramatic changes that have taken place in scientific publishing since the rise of the open-access movement about a decade ago. In the conventional subscription-based model, journals bring in revenue largely through selling print or web subscriptions and keeping most online content locked behind a paywall. But in the most popular model of open access, publishers charge an upfront ‘author fee’ to cover costs — and to turn a profit, in the case of commercial publishers — then make the papers freely available online, immediately on publication.

The open-access movement has spawned many successful, well-respected operations. PLOS ONE, for example, which charges a fee of US$1,350 for authors in middle- and high-income countries, has seen the number of articles it publishes leap from 138 in 2006 to 23,464 last year, making it the world’s largest scientific journal. The movement has also garnered growing political support. In the past year, the UK and US governments, as well as the European Commission, have thrown their weight behind some form of open-access publishing. And scarcely a week goes by without the appearance of new author-pays, open-access publishers, launching single journals or large fleets of them.

Many new open-access publishers are trustworthy. But not all. Anyone with a spare afternoon and a little computing savvy can launch an impressive-looking journal website and e-mail invitations to scientists to join editorial boards or submit papers for a fee. The challenge for researchers, and for Beall, is to work out when those websites or e-mail blasts signal a credible publisher and when they come from operations that can range from the outright criminal to the merely amateurish.

In one e-mail that Beall received and shared with Nature, a dental researcher wrote that she had submitted a paper to an open-access journal after she “was won over by the logos of affiliated databases on the home page and seemingly prestigious editorial board”. But the researcher, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that she became concerned about the peer-review process when the article was accepted within days and she was not sent any reviewers’ comments. She says that last week — several months after her original submission — she was sent page proofs that match the submitted manuscript, and that she still has not seen reviewers’ comments.

. . . .

OMICS Group, based in Hyderabad, India, is on Beall’s list. One researcher complained in an e-mail to Beall that she had submitted a paper to an OMICS journal after receiving an e-mail solicitation — but learned that she had to pay a fee to publish it only from a message sent by the journal after the paper had been accepted. “To my horror, I opened the file to find an invoice for $2,700!” she wrote. “This fee was not mentioned anywhere obvious at the time I submitted my manuscript.” (Nature was unable to contact this researcher.) Beall says that OMICS journals do not show their author fees prominently enough on their journal websites or in e-mails that they send to authors to solicit manuscript submissions.

Srinubabu Gedela, director of OMICS Group, says that article-handling fees are displayed clearly on the ‘Instructions for Authors’ web page for each OMICS journal. Gedela adds that he would assume researchers would be aware that such open-access journals charge author fees. He says that OMICS Group is “not predatory” and that its staff and editors are acting in “good faith and confidence” to promote open-access publishing.

Link to the rest at Nature

Here’s a link to OMICS International and here’s a link to the organization’s Peer Reviewed Journals page (the page has a great many journals listed).

From OMICS International’s Open Access page:

An Open Access publication is one that meets the following conditions:

» The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small number of printed copies for their personal use.
» A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable Open Access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).
» Open Access is a property of individual works.
» Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work.

Link to the rest at OMICS International’s Open Access page

From OMICS International’s Membership page:

The OMICS International membership program, initiated to accomplish the vision of making Healthcare & Scientific Information Open Access, enables academic and research institutions, societies, groups, funding organizations and corporations to actively support Open Access in scholarly publishing and also support the participation of its representatives and students in International conferences.

Membership is now available for the scientific societies/corporatecompanies/universities/institutes/individuals/students.

. . . .

Individual membership

Six Months membership

  1. Member can submit 3 articles to any of the OMICS International journals
  2. Member will get a prestigious certificate of six months membership from OMICS International

Annual membership

  1. Member can submit 10 articles to any of the OMICS International journals
  2. Member will get waiver on registration for any one OMICS International conference
  3. Member will get a prestigious certificate of Annual membership from OMICS International

Three-year membership

  1. Member can submit 20 articles to any of the OMICS International journals
  2. Member will get waiver on registration for any two OMICS International conferences
  3. Member will get a prestigious certificate of Three-year membership from OMICS International

Five-year membership

  1. Member can submit unsolicited number of articles to any of the OMICS International journals
  2. Member will get waiver on registration for any four OMICS International conferences
  3. Member will get a prestigious certificate of Five-year membership from OMICS International

Link to the rest at OMICS International’s Membership page

From the OMICS International’s Membership Fees section of the OMICS International Membership page:

Membership Six-months* Annual Three years Five years
Individual $ 3000 $ 5000 $ 10000 $ 15000

Link to the rest at OMICS International’s Membership Fees page

For the record, PG doesn’t know exactly what “Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work” means (perhaps it is defined further elsewhere on the OMICS website), but, absent other material factors, he would likely advise an author/client to retain ownership of the copyright to the author’s work and to not waive any rights the author may have under domestic or international copyright laws and treaties.

From Queensborough Community College, CUNY:

What is Predatory Open Access Publishing?

In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, Prof. Jeffrey Beall describes the phenomenon this way:

“Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations.  For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists.”

Predatory publishers may also claim to be included in directories and indexes when they are not and include faculty on their editorial boards who have not agreed to serve.

Predatory publishers began profilerating in the past few years with the increase in open access publishing, and we are now also seeing an increase in predatory conferences, some which choose a name nearly identical to an established, well-respected conference.

How Do I Avoid Predatory Publishers?

Check the publisher and journal on the predatory publishing lists linked to the left.

Contact your department’s Library Liaison for a second (or first) opinion about the authenticity of a publisher or journal. We’re happy to help faculty identify reliable, quality scholarly publishing venues.

Use the following checklist, provided by Declan Butler in Nature, as a guide for assessing publishers and journals:

How to perform due diligence before submitting to a journal or publisher.

  • Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
  • Check that a journal’s editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
  • Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
  • Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
  • Read some of the journal’s published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
  • Check that a journal’s peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
  • Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals ( or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association ( [Some questionable journals appear in directories such as DOAJ and Cabell’s; we don’t advise using this as your sole criteria.]
  • Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution.
  • Or contact your Librarian! We’re happy to help assess journals and publishers.

Link to the rest at Queensborough Community College, CUNY

The Queensborough CC page cited above also includes the following:

Predatory Publishers List

Prof. Jeffrey Beall, University of Colorada Denver librarian, maintains a list of potential predatory publishers and stand alone journals. Follow the links below to check if a publisher or journal has been flagged as possibly predatory.

PG notes Professor Beall’s two lists are for Potential, Possible or Probable Predatory, etc. Publishers and Journals.

When PG checked the above referenced Publishers list, Professor Beall included Omix International.

All links were created, checked and valid on the date this post was published. PG won’t check back to determine if any of the links are no longer functioning in the future. All excerpts from the Omix International web sites are subject to the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC BY 4.0)



Charles I’s Killers in America

5 August 2019

From The Wall Street Journal:

We Americans look to the Founding Fathers when we think about the American experiment in democracy. But to whom did the Founders turn for guidance? More than a few found inspiration in the England of the previous century, when the conflict between Parliament and King Charles I erupted into civil war. The victorious parliamentary leaders—mostly Puritans—abolished the monarchy, executed Charles for treason in 1649, and established England’s first and only republic, led by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector.

Cromwell’s death in 1658, however, left a power vacuum that, two years later, was filled by Charles’s eldest son and the restoration of the monarchy. Fortunately for him, and for Great Britain, Charles II was a shrewder, more tolerant and certainly less obdurate man than his father, who died for his belief in the divine right of kings. Charles II’s return from exile in 1660 was eased by a general policy of toleration and lenience. Only a handful of the surviving parliamentarians who had signed his father’s death warrant a dozen years earlier were ineligible for amnesty.

Charles I’s Killers in America” tells the story of two regicides who sought refuge in the American colonies, Edward Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe. Whalley and Goffe were figures of some importance in the civil war, and in Cromwell’s commonwealth, but they are more prominent in American annals than English ones. In the summer of 1660 they fled to the Puritan stronghold of Massachusetts Bay. In the colonies, they led an uncertain existence until Whalley died in 1674-75 and Goffe about 1679. No one is entirely certain where or when either died, or where they are buried.

. . . .

Whalley and Goffe were invoked in revolutionary pamphleteering, and they make appearances in novels and plays of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including some minor fiction of Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne. A cave in which they hid in New Haven, Conn., for several months features a plaque commemorating their presence. In 1794, Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale College, wrote a hagiography that included them titled “A History of Three of the Judges of Charles I.”

. . . .

In truth, what makes Whalley and Goffe interesting is not their influence on the young American nation—or, as Mr. Jenkinson puts it, “why their story was manipulated, twisted, and distorted to suit different political sympathies and cultural tastes”—but what their sojourn in the colonies tells us about the politics of a neglected chapter in American history. Massachusetts Bay was founded and governed by Puritans, who were naturally sympathetic to their Puritan brethren in the civil war and commonwealth. Accordingly, the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 was greeted with a certain ambivalence in Boston, and, initially, Whalley and Goffe were welcomed by the royal governor, John Endecott.

But the governments of the New England colonies were also dependent on London’s patronage and protection and, of course, on trade with England. Whalley and Goffe’s hero status soon grew ambiguous. The king issued warrants for their arrest, and agents were dispatched to hunt them down and return them to England. The royal governments of Massachusetts Bay and neighboring Connecticut, where the regicides soon took refuge, were obliged to do London’s bidding. But they did so in a decidedly half-hearted, sometimes comically deceptive, fashion, as Mr. Jenkinson shows—and Charles II, contrary to legend, seems not to have pressed the matter too hard.

For several years, Whalley and Goffe subsisted, first in New Haven and later in Hadley, Mass., in a kind of twilight status, protected by local Puritan clergy, living largely incognito, evading arrest but not too dangerously imperiled.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

PG has read some American history and has some ancestors which were hanging about Massachusetts and Connecticut during the relevant period, but was entirely unaware of the story of Whalley and Goffe.


Introducing “Author Website in a Box” (beta)

26 June 2019

From The Digital Reader:

For the past couple weeks I have been working on a new project, and I think it’s gotten to the point where it’s ready for public testing and feedback.

The project has the working title of “Author Website in a Box”, and it is intended to provide a complete author website based on WordPress.

The site has everything from a home page to a contact page, about the author page, and even bookshelf pages. I even included dummy content that you can replace, and I installed SEO, security, backup, and other essential plugins.

  • Yoast (an SEO plugin – it helps readers find you in search engines)
  • Novelist (a bookshelf plugin that makes it easy to display your books)
  • All in One WP Security (a firewall plugin that keeps hackers out)
  • Contact Form 7 (the best free contact form plugin)
  • Mailmunch (a great plugin for integrating your mailing list into your site)

The site has a good general design which can be improved upon or customized with a little work. It is built using SiteOrigin’s pagebuilder, my preferred tool for building author websites. Almost everyone I know agrees that while it is not the best tool available, it is relatively easy to learn. It’s also free, which means I can include a copy for you to use with this site.

I have a version of the site myself (this is what I use to develop the site for you to download) which you can see here:

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG thought Nate’s dummy site looked promising.

If you’re going to play with it with your own content, read Nate’s Caveats carefully.

PG will second some of Nate’s warnings:

  1. Never play around with new plumbing/apps/etc. on your principal business website. You can buy a weird domain name for $5 bucks at some places online. Install WordPress there and put some dummy data in to get an idea of how it looks.
  2. If the dummy site looks good, make a copy of your main website and move it over to your dummy domain. If you Google “moving a website to a new domain“, you’ll find techniques, tools and a WordPress video that talks about it.
  3. PG has moved some sites to new domains in the distant past, but can’t remember exactly which tool(s) he used, but it wasn’t terribly difficult or time-consuming. If you move your entire site, including your current theme, that might make it easier for you to compare the usability of your potential new theme with your current theme pretty easily.
  4. If this sounds daunting for you, contact Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader or somebody else who really knows what he/she is doing. (PG knows your unemployed brother-in-law will work on your site at no charge just for the experience, but if you’re in the business of writing instead of the business of fixing website glitches that appear and disappear at random and trying to live with a site that never looks quite right even without glitches, spending a little money for qualified assistance will save you lots of time and serious heartburn. A semi-functioning website doesn’t do a very good job of attracting new readers.)


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