Mouton "discounts" for ALT members
Scott C Delancey
delancey at UOREGON.EDU
Mon Nov 14 16:00:02 UTC 2011
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
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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