Mouton "discounts" for ALT members
vanhove at VJF.CNRS.FR
Mon Nov 14 21:51:51 UTC 2011
The attached document does not concern publishers in our domain (but that
of chemestry), but you might consider it for the ongoing discussion.
The president of major a French university cannot afford to pay
subsriptions to a journal anymore... and is calling for a national
The letter is in French, but I guess most of you can decipher it.
Martine Vanhove - Directrice
LLACAN - UMR 8135 du CNRS
Centre Georges Haudricourt, Bat. C
7, rue Guy Môquet
94801 Villejuif Cedex
Tel: 33 1 49 58 38 18
Fax: 33 1 49 58 38 00
> I agree with Scott's take on this. Bill was simply saying that a publisher
> that offered affordable books has made a policy decision to raise the
> prices beyond individual affordability and that this has a negative impact
> on research.
> I have no idea how Mouton is doing financially. I know that all publishers
> are hurting tremendously, laying off people right and left. Authors are
> receiving less. Agents are receiving less. It is a business in crisis.
> There are no villains here. Linguists want to buy grammars. Mouton wants
> to sell them. We will likely both need to find a space that allows Mouton
> to make a profit (it definitely should) and be able to survive, but that
> allows science to count on the excellent material it publishes.
> -- Dan
> Daniel L. Everett
> Dean of Arts and Sciences, Ph.D.
> Bentley University
> 175 Forest St.
> Waltham, MA 02451
> Fax: 781-891-2125
> Phone: 781 891 2113
> On Nov 14, 2011, at 11:00 AM, Scott C Delancey wrote:
> I think this is unfair to Bill, whose original post was concerned
> with a specific decision on the part of Mouton de Gruyter, about a
> arrangement between them and ALT. Since it is with Mouton that
> ALT had this arrangement, and it is Mouton's decision to change it,
> it is entirely appropriate that *that* discussion focus on that
> Obviously the discussion quickly moved away from that specific issue to
> more general complaints about academic publishers, and in that context
> it is certainly unfair to single out Mouton de Gruyter -- I'm sure
> who has paid any attention to the issue can easily think of worse
> But all Bill was doing in the post Frans is replying to was to try and
> return to his original point, which is quite legitimately specific to
> Scott DeLancey
> On Fri, 11 Nov 2011 18:15:02 +0100, Frans Plank wrote:
> Dear all,
> since Bill continues on this list to specifically blame De Gruyter
> Mouton of depriving the typological community of something desirable
> (and I couldn't agree more that a higher discount on grammars and
> other typological titles for ALT members ARE desirable -- from any
> publishers, but especially from such publishers where editors vouch
> for quality with their good names), here's a few thoughts on his
> I have no inside knowledge of De Gruyter Mouton's profit margins, but
> I would be genuinely surprised if they made a lot of money with MGL,
> or for that matter also with LT. (Uri could give you particulars, I
> assume; the editors of MGL could fill you in on MGL sales, without
> with discounts. For comparison, for the profit margin of a publisher
> not publishing anything like MGL, Elsevier, see the link provided by
> Sebastian earlier in this thread,
> .) It would seem more probable to me that such ventures as MGL are
> actually losing DeGM money, and on economic grounds they should go
> Elsevier's way.
> Now, what I'd urge Bill to do, before continuing to bash DeGM, is to
> compare their grammar production with those of CUP, OUP, Routledge
> others, forgetting about Elsevier for the moment: these publishers do
> make a lot of money from grammars and dictionaries and other
> learning/teaching materials of English and a very few other "major"
> languages (and from long lists of linguistics textbooks, again often
> with a strong English focus), and they do not seem to channel much if
> any of their profits back into producing grammars and dictionaries of
> "minor" languages.
> "English Language" in particular is a huge industry in the UK (one of
> the biggest -- if not THE biggest, along with hedgefond management
> other frauds such as sports & betting (sorry, Martin, I don't want to
> rob you of your obvious fascination with the Champions League)), and
> academic publishers are part of it. Regrettably, "other" languages
> benefitting next to nothing from it, not even academically, with
> "other" languages playing only a very minor and apparently shrinking
> role in UK linguistics.
> In short, I find it rather misguided and unfair of typologists, of
> linguists, to specifically attack DeGM, of all academic publishers.
> There would seem to be more obvious and more deserving targets for
> This was only speaking to Bill's particular point. There are lots of
> valuable things being said in this thread on questions of quality
> publishing with commercial publishers and otherwise.
> On Nov 11, 2011, at 4:27 PM, Bill Croft wrote:
> I see that my initial message has prompted a number of responses on
> various topics that were connected to that message, but not directly
> addressing the issue that I originally raised. That issue was that
> Mouton is no longer offering a discount to INDIVIDUALS that put
> their grammars in reach, at least for employed academics at
> universities in developed countries. My point remains that Mouton's
> new policy is putting their books out of reach of individuals, and
> that Mouton will actually lose more money (by not selling those
> volumes at all) than it would lose if it kept the 50% discount (in
> which case they would at least earn money from individual ALT/SSILA
> members who bought the books - the numbers of which are so small
> it's not like they would have to do a money-losing print run to sell
> copies to individuals).
> I also raised the issue that the high list price of Mouton grammars
> means that many universities cannot afford to buy them either. For a
> small, poor regional university like the University of New Mexico,
> it is difficult to justify spending a large part of the linguistics
> library budget on a grammar of a Papuan or an African language. So I
> am willing to buy such a grammar for myself - if I can afford to.
> But I no longer can, from Mouton at any rate.
> This is not to deny that the issues subsequently raised - how
> for-profit publishers function as the gatekeepers for the
> dissemination of scholarly knowledge, accessibility of scholarly
> research in poorer countries and to the native speaker communities,
> print vs electronic resources, and so on - are important ones.
> Mouton's former policy for ALT/SSILA members made a small
> contribution in addressing some of these problems, and was quite
> laudable. Their new policy is a step backwards that is deplorable in
> my opinion.
> Best wishes,
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