Electronic Solutions to the Problems of Monograph Publishing examines the
suggestion that the so-called monograph crisis can be overcome by making
use of the possibilities of electronic publishing. Research monographs are the
preferred way in which scholarship is communicated in most disciplines in the
humanities and some in the social sciences. The problems faced by publishers
influence the practices of the scholars themselves. This study examines the
nature of the crisis in the print environment, the aspirations of scholarly
publishers in the electronic environment and the attitudes of and impacts on
other parts of the information chain. There is as yet little experience of
electronic monographs, so the emphasis is on the projections of the various
players and on the major experiments that are being funded. There is
nevertheless consideration of the practical aspects of making content
available in digital form. No immediate solution is presented but there are
pointers to fruitful future developments.
“The monograph is a large, specialized work of scholarship that treats a narrow
topic in great detail. Size is a critical characteristic, because it distinguishes the
monograph from the article, which has the same purpose, but is small. The
monograph is the product of a large project usually carried out by an individual
scholar. It presents what the scholar has concluded is the truth about some set
of historical events, the characteristics of some work of art or literature or the
biography of a historical figure, an artist or a writer. This list does not exhaust
the categories of possible topics of monographs, but makes the general point
that monographs are principally about establishing facts or narratives in a set of
fields in which facts and narratives are often hard to establish. Together with
critical reviews and articles, monographs provide the foundations for general
explanations in these fields.
• “It is simply not profitable. Monographs are
not published to make money but to fulfil a
scholarly obligation”. (US University Press)
“As authors I think my patrons will generally
avoid electronic-only book publication,
both because it is risky in terms of
copyright protection and because it is a
low prestige way to publish. At this point in
the development of the marketplace, I
cannot imagine anyone going to the
trouble to write a book without the
reasonable prospect of print publication.”
[a senior US librarian]
2001 Conclusion 1
There is a crisis in monograph publishing in print and it will worsen.
That is clear from the projections by the publishers. I cannot see
more funding for books becoming available as part of library
budgets. This is the central problem. I can see a lot fewer
monographs being published and I suspect young scholars will soon
characteristically draw some articles from their dissertations and rely on
what is now easy access to the thesis itself. I may be
underestimating either the conservatism of
the academic or alternatively the real needs of scholarly discourse – or
both. It is possible that, as the larger presses withdraw from
publishing more than a token number of monographs in the
humanities, smaller presses will take advantage of
lower overheads and probably more efficient working with the academic
community to fill the gap. But this will be only a partial replacement
and margins will be very low.
2001 Conclusion 2
I think there will be more electronic-only monographs as delivery channels improve
but this will not be a long-term solution. I am particularly taken by the suggestion by
one university press that scholars will accept electronic-only if they have no
possibility of publishing in print because their subject area is so specialised/
commercially uninteresting. If there are lower costs they will be balanced by lower
income, while the basic costs of the editorial process will remain the same.
Publishing monographs simultaneously in both print and electronic versions is not (to
my mind) going to work. Making available new channels will work for some types of
books but for R2R monographs there is the basic problem that the number of
potential readers is inherently small. Is it smaller than in the past and is that why
print runs have been reduced as sales have declined? No – it is just that libraries no
longer hold books to keep a collection complete or just in case someone might want
to read them. Just-in-time library policies will remain the norm and indeed electronic
access will probably enable their extension
2001 Conclusion 3
There is no electronic solution to the crisis, if
monographs continue to be much as they
are at the moment. There may be (is) short
term additional revenue but I cannot see
the business models of the publisher
partners standing up in the medium term.
There is just not enough money around to
cover what are in fact significantly
increased costs, which have to be carried
by some part of the chain.
2001 Conclusion 4
However I can see such models of co-operation between different sectors as the
History eBook project having some sort of validity. As I have mentioned in the study
the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) through its SPARC project has tried to
forge alliances with non-profit publishers (in this case learned society presses) and
individual groups of academics to create competition in the world of (as they see it)
overpriced STM journals. I think that there is scope for the development of a
different sort of co-operative enterprise, organised along lines only just beginning to
emerge. I also think it could be successful. It will only work if it aims to make money
by which I mean that the model takes into account the understanding of the way
publishing works which publishers tend to have and does not flirt with cost-recovery
models. A surplus is always needed for investment.
2001 Conclusion 5
I like the model of aggregation online too. Again there is
scope for more
developments along these lines and co-operation between
publishers on a larger scale than currently. Such models
will work better if they are less parochial, i.e.
more international, and they admit that commercial
publishers have something to offer. Electronic networks
lend themselves to distributed arrangement and
developments of the subscription model, taking
advantage of the way in which licenses have been
stabilised in the serials environment, do look hopeful.
2001 Conclusion 6
I am not sure about the subscription model.
Publishers from serial backgrounds
looking at scholarly book publishing have
always sort to find a way of selling by
subscription. Often this does not work.
However the subscription model, in spite
of all the problems they have had with
serials, still appeals to librarians: it makes
it possible to budget.
Current examples: T&F
Our renowned book publishing programme encompasses the imprints:
Routledge, Routledge-Cavendish, Garland, CRC Press, Psychology Press
and Taylor & Francis.The Taylor & Francis eBookstore features a quality
collection of titles that you can buy in the current popular formats, now
including DX Portable. Prices listed on this site are for individual
purchasers only. Institutional customers wishing to purchase networkable
versions should contact: reference.online@tandf.co.uk for a full price list
and further details or click on the Annual Subscription Package or eBooks
for Libraries button on this page for a full list of options.Our eSubscribe and
DX Portable services provide the convenience of online and offline
subscriptions. Besides outright purchases and subscriptions, our ePrint,
eCopy and eCompile services bring the advantage of cost-effective
page/chapter micro-purchases of content.To keep up-to-date with our
latest publications and special offers, and to receive regular news in your
areas of interest, please register for our eUpdates service
Current Examples: Springer
Springer eBook Collection [http://www.springer.com/e-content/ebooks?SGWID=040791-0-0-0]
The world's most comprehensive online scientific book collection
Introducing the world’s most comprehensive digitized scientific, technical and medical
(STM) book collection.
• More than 3,500 New eBooks and eReference Works Every Year
• Ownership Business Model
• Unlimited Simultaneous Use
• Over 30,000 eBooks Available
Available through SpringerLink’s IP-enabled eBook gateway libraries and
corporations can offer their patrons online access to the most worthwhile books
instantly from multiple locations, including library, office, home or wherever they are.
Springer’s eBook Collection uses the portability, searchability, and unparalleled ease
of access of PDF and HTML data formats to make access for researchers, as
convenient as possible. Springer eBook Collections offer accurate reproductions of
high quality Springer print book publications, together with all the added benefits of an
online environment, including exceptional search capabilities and bookmarks.
Current Examples: Springer
New eBook Feature: Introducing MyCopy
Pilot project allows eBook users to order soft cover books through
Springer has launched MyCopy powered by SpringerLink, a pilot project to expand its
services to eBook users.
What is MyCopy?
MyCopy allows a library’s registered patrons to order soft cover copies, for their
personal use, of those Springer eBooks that the library has previously purchased.
Initially, 14 selected libraries and research institutions in the USA and Canada take
part in the pilot project with more test partners set to join in early 2009.
How does it work?
The MyCopy offer is currently valid for more than 11,000 eBooks out of a total of
30,000 Springer eBooks published since 2005. MyCopy books feature a full color
cover while the book content itself is printed in black and white. They can be ordered
by registered patrons at libraries that have previously purchased a Springer eBook
collection. All MyCopy books are priced at $24.95 (including shipping and handling
within the USA and Canada). [http://www.springer.com/econtent/ebooks/my+copy?SGWID=0-165802-0-0-0]
Current Examples: OUP
• Oxford Scholarship Online is a vast and rapidly expanding crosssearchable library which now offers quick and easy access to the full
text of 2,763 Oxford books.
In addition to Economics and Finance, Philosophy, Political
Science, and Religion, Oxford Scholarship Online now provides
access to new Oxford books in Biology, Business and
Management, Classical Studies, History, Law, Linguistics,
Literature, Mathematics, Music, Neuroscience, Physics,
Psychology and Social Work.
Specially-commissioned abstracts and keywords are available at
book and chapter level (free to non-subscribed users), and at least
400 new and recently-published books are added each year.
Current Examples: Bloomsbury
Welcome to the Bloomsbury Academic Brochure Site
Bloomsbury Academic is a new scholarly imprint with a new business
model. We publish research-led books across the humanities and social
sciences and seek to develop innovative lists on a thematic basis, in fields
of current global interest. We are the first major publishing company to
provide online access to our research-based books free of charge.
Our titles carry a Creative Commons licence allowing readers noncommercial use. At the same time we produce attractively printed books
that are promoted and sold globally. For more information see our NEWS
Items and FAQs. If you would like to submit a proposal have a look at our
AUTHORS section
To receive our quarterly e-Newsletter and be notified of our latest releases,
please click here.
Our state-of-the-art platform is currently under development by iFactory and
will be operational later this year.[http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/]
Current Examples: OAPEN
• Publishing humanities monographs in Open Access
• OAPEN is a project in Open Access publishing for humanities
and social sciences monographs. The consortium of
University-based academic publishers who make up OAPEN
believe that the time is ripe to bring the successes of scientific
Open Access publishing to the humanities and social sciences.
• The OAPEN partners are all active in the Open Access movement
already, with details available on their pages on this site and on their
own websites.
• The project will find useful, exciting and beneficial ways of
publishing scholarly work in Open Access, enhancing access to
important peer reviewed research from across Europe. Most
importantly it will find a financial model which is appropriate to
scholarly humanities monographs, a publishing platform which is
beneficial to all users and create a network of publishing partners
across Europe and the rest of the world. [http://www.oapen.org/]