Can Self-Publishing Crack the Academic Market?

From Publishers Weekly:

In 2016, self-publishing pioneer Lulu.com introduced Glasstree, a new service the company hopes might begin to reshape the academic and scholarly publishing market. Ahead of the London Book Fair, PW caught up with Glasstree’s Daniel Berze to learn more about the company’s plan to crack the academic publishing market wide open.

In announcing Glasstree, you noted that “the existing academic publishing model is broken.” You’re not the first to make such an observation—but explain why you think the market is broken and why Glasstree might be a solution.

The traditional publishing model is broken for a number of reasons. First, because academic authors traditionally have so little control over their own content. When they hand it over to their publisher, they often assign their copyrights and hand over legal ownership. And they have no power to set the market price. Traditional publishing often compels purchasers to obtain content with restrictive policies, at often-extortionate levels.

This is also true for open access content, which usually requires the author to pay unfair processing charges in order to publish. More generally, traditional academic publishers also lack transparency: it is impossible to obtain any insight into the costs associated with the production of a book—or the profit margins earned by the publisher and/or the author. Speed to market is also an issue, as academic content can sometimes take years before being published. Glasstree aims to put power back in the hands of the author.

. . . .

What do you think the main selling point for Glasstree is? And where do you expect the service to be next year, and then, say, five years out?

I think that the biggest selling point is the ability to provide authors and universities with the tools that they need to publish, print, and be successful at a price level that would be unfathomable even a few years ago, with a specific orientation to academics and educators—for example, the ability to track bibliometrics with a DOI, discoverability tools, creative commons licensing, and so on. This year, we will introduce a print API to the market.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

5 thoughts on “Can Self-Publishing Crack the Academic Market?”

  1. Our local university just announced the publishing of their first self-published text book. It’s $20 instead of $250.

    I had to laugh, they said it was “more involved than they expected.”

    • “I had to laugh, they said it was “more involved than they expected.””

      At $20 the ‘involved’ part was proofing and spelling (to not have the kids make fun of any errors found.)

      Didn’t need a fancy cover (captive audience), and it wasn’t really ‘too hard’ or they’d have charged more than $20 for it.

      The thin wedge is in, you can expect trad-pub to start fighting this (most likely after it’s too late to stop.)

  2. It’s about time. Textbook prices are obscene. A book that would have cost $50 twenty years ago is now $200. In subjects like accounting or calculus that don’t change much with new research or information, but you aren’t allowed to buy used books because they change the homework problems or rearrange the chapters. The online bits (an extra $50) are not worth the money either.

    I was accepted into a retraining program two years ago that would have paid tuition but not books, and was not able to take advantage of it because the program required 45 credits per quarter. Books for three classes run about $500, a third the cost of tuition.

    Gah! You can tell it pisses me off.

  3. I’ve got two boys in college: one public, one private. They each have classes with no requirement to purchase textbooks by professors seeking more efficient and economical online solutions.

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