Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

Harald Hammarström harald at BOMBO.SE
Fri Nov 11 02:12:40 UTC 2011

Dear Mark,
I don't know if it can be called a solution but one possibility for
authors is to submit to open-access monograph series that welcome
descriptive materials, e.g., Cadernos de Etnolinguistica for
(South-)Americanists or Himalayan Linguistics Archive for
Himalayanists, or even the MPI EVA Language Description Heritage
repository ( then it'll be accessible to any
scholar with a computer and some indirect or direct access to the
internet. I suppose few authors are ready to do this because of the
prestige associated with the magna publishers. But the prestige comes
from senior scholars acting as series editors, reviewers and the like,
who might as well do this for an open-access publisher. I have never
understood why senior scholars continue to do this instead of doing
the same for an open-access publisher. Perhaps someone who knows
better could comment?

If you are thinking of a printed and bound version to be affordable to
a member of the speaker community who is not necessarily a scholar or
has access to a computer, it seems possible to have a local publisher
publish the grammar/dictionary giving a much more reasonable price. I
believe Robbins Burling did exactly this, with a publisher somewhere in
NE India (so it should be comparable to your case) but I don't know what
the exact price was and whether it was affordable and actually bought
by many interested locals.

It is sometimes argued that high book (& journal) prices is necessary
and justified for added value and development of infrastructure with
frontline publishing companies. But the overview of profit margins with
academic publishers by McGuigan and Russell [1] claims that this is not
at all enough to explain the profit margins (and thus, in turn, the book/
journal prices). For this they cite a report from an analysis conducted
under Deutsche Bank which I have not read, but in any case, does anyone
know the specifics for de Gruyter, Mouton, and/or the MGL book series, i.e.,
what are their profit margins and what is the added value they can be
said to bring?

all the best,


Glenn S. McGuigan and Robert D. Russell, 2008. The Business of Academic
Publishing: A Strategic Analysis of the Academic Journal Publishing
Industry and its Impact on the Future of Scholarly Publishing. Electronic
Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, volume 9, number 3.

2011/11/11 Post, Mark < at>

> Dear Typologists,
> I thank Bill Croft for raising this point, but would further suggest that
> there is a deeper issue involved, particularly as regards large-scale
> descriptive work such as grammars and dictionaries. Most work currently
> being done in language description relates to communities or localities in
> which institutions and individual scholars alike have so little purchasing
> power that obtaining an MGL volume is a straightforward impossibility -
> with or without an ALT or similarly-scaled "discount". While exceptions can
> be found, the overall effect of this situation is, one, to radically
> restrict research opportunities in exactly the places where they are often
> most in demand, and two, to foster inequality among our colleagues. I'm
> sure I will be reminded that most scholars are aware of this problem, and
> that there is no point in bringing it up unless I can put forth an
> acceptable solution. I really wish I could. But I do want to propose that
> the current status quo is ethically flawed to a very serious extent, and
> that authors contribute to this problem when we submit our work to
> publishers whose pricing schemes are so dramatically prohibitive as is
> MGL's (whatever other merits they may have). I would also warmly welcome
> suggestions for how matters might be improved from listmembers who might
> have made more progress in their thinking about potential solutions than I
> seem to have.
> Regards all around,
> Mark
> Mark W. Post
> The Cairns Institute
> James Cook University
> Smithfield, QLD 4878
> Australia
> Tel: +61-7-4042-1898
> Eml: at
> Web:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG]
> On Behalf Of Bill Croft
> Sent: Friday, 11 November 2011 1:28 AM
> Subject: Mouton "discounts" for ALT members
> Dear typologists,
>     Some of you have taken advantage of the discounts that Mouton has
> offered to ALT members for the Mouton Grammar Library and Empirical
> Approaches to Language Typology series. The discount, available in a
> list at the Lingtyp website, used to be around 50% of the (very high)
> list price of the volumes in these series. After 2009, no new volumes
> were added to the discount list. Now the new discount list has
> reappeared but the discount has shrunk to 20%.
>    The change in the discount has made the MGL and EALT volumes go
> from (barely) affordable to completely unaffordable to individual
> scholars. This is particularly serious because Mouton volumes are so
> expensive - pretty much the most expensive in the field of
> linguistics - that it is difficult if not impossible for university
> libraries to purchase them. I inquired about the change, and was told
> that De Gruyter decided to standardize the discount for all societies
> at 20%, and since Mouton is owned by De Gruyter, Mouton has to
> conform to De Gruyter policies.
>     At this point, according to the current ALT discount list,
> volumes published before 2009 are still available at their original
> discount price. I do not know how long that will last.
>    I do not know if it is worth trying, but I would urge members to
> object to this change in policy to Mouton and De Gruyter.
> Sincerely,
> Bill Croft
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