Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

Mon Nov 14 16:45:55 UTC 2011

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,
[1].) 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,


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list