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Author Topic: Publishing with Verlag Dr. Mueller? (VDM)  (Read 375064 times)
graupel
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« on: January 21, 2008, 11:40:08 AM »

I apologize for what may be an absurd question, but I'm in a discipline where publishing your thesis is very rare -- all I have experience with is dealing with journals and journal editors.

An editor for VDM just contacted me about publishing my Ph.D. dissertation.  It seems "too good to be true" in that -- at least according to the editor -- the book is published at no expense to me and, should things not go as planned, I incur no debts.

Originally I just thought this was weird -- especially considering my field (physical sciences).  Then I started thinking that if the editor is telling me the truth, there's really no downside for me -- especially considering I'm on the first year of the tenure track and even a book publication with a vanity press may help my tenure bid.

Does anyone have any experience with this publisher?  Anything that I might be overlooking suggesting this is a bad idea?  Guidance?  A link to an appropriate thread?  (I tried the search utility, but I don't have sufficient mojo to make that do the things I want much of the time).

Any response/advice would be appreciated.
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sandgrounder
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2008, 12:12:09 PM »

It's based in Saarbruecken in Germany and basically will publish any PhD or MA dissertations on a 'print on demand' basis. It fulfils a need in Germany where you have to publish your dissertation sometimes to get the degree.

I can't see where they make money - this worries me somehow and despite having worked in Germany, it's not one I've heard of. I'd ask someone in your field in Germany if they know of it.
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zarathustra
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 1:24:32 PM »

Funny, I just got an email from the same publisher and I had the same "must be too good to be true" reaction.  My field is music.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 2:32:54 PM »

I think the real question here is not only field dependent but also purpose dependent. If you need a book for tenure, and no one at your university knows the answer about whether this is a reputable peer reviewed publisher or not, you would essentially be wasting all the work that went into your dissertation by having it in print in a dissertation series that is no more significant than UMI publication (there used to be such animals from some commercial publishers in the US) and needing to start over on a different manuscript before tenure time.
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i_teach
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2008, 11:37:07 AM »

Interesting. I too received an email from them about publishing work that had originally been submitted as my Master's Thesis. My topic was very current in my field and eventually I was able to spin-off an article that was published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I did a bit of research & found their website if that helps:

http://www.vdm-publishing.com/

Looks legit, but hey, what do I know! ;-)

graupel, did you reply to their email & get the "further information"?

I could really use another publication on my CV!

i_teach
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graupel
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2008, 11:48:10 AM »

graupel, did you reply to their email & get the "further information"?

I could really use another publication on my CV!

i_teach

I actually have been in contact fairly regularly with the editor.

According to the editor (and verified by someone I know who actually deals with publishers on a semi-regular basis), the summary given above by sandgrounder is pretty accurate.  They publish on demand, give the author a few free copies and a pittance for royalties.  Maybe they figure that, though not technically a "vanity press", an author will buy enough extra copies of their own work to make publication at least a break-even proposition.

For the curious, I've decided not to take the whole dissertation (which would involve retyping the entire manuscript), but am seriously considering spinning off a chapter that I was having a hard time condensing down to a journal article submission.  (I have a lot to say on the topic, and I'm having a hard time breaking my analysis down into smaller chunks that are more or less mutually independent).

I was actually in the process of registering as an author online when it started asking for rather detailed personal information and personal bank information....  That has since prompted another query to the editor.  Assuming I can work my way into their system without telling them my account number [even if I have to forego any royalties], I'll be publishing a short monograph with them.

As long as I'm responding to previous posts -- thanks for your input, seniorscholar.  In my particular case, it is safe to say needing an actual book for tenure isn't required but even a vanity press book would look impressive.  (Again, we typically don't write books in my field).  I'm also at a small enough institution where giving scholarship attention is a relatively recent development; the benchmarks for tenure are in flux and in some fields (including mine) are kind of silly.  Given the culture here, I'm afraid to say that a published unreviewed book would be looked upon much more favorably than a peer-reviewed journal article in Nature or Science.  That being said, your comment is well taken and I will continue to be wary about the whole process.  If something doesn't seem quite right, I'll just bite the bullet and find a way to rewrite the chapter as a coherent (or several coherent) journal articles instead of a monograph.
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i_teach
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2008, 5:52:16 PM »


I was actually in the process of registering as an author online when it started asking for rather detailed personal information and personal bank information....  That has since prompted another query to the editor. 


Let us know how it goes. I'm very curious how flexible they are in this regard.

I think I will follow up, at least with an email requesting further info.

Take care,

i_teach
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infopri
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2008, 4:09:02 AM »

I just got the same solicitation today from the same company.  In my field, almost no one turns the dissertation into a book; instead, we derive journal articles from it, typically two or three.  People do publish books (both peer-reviewed and not), but not from their dissertations.  For CV purposes, peer-reviewed journal articles count for more than non-peer-reviewed books--but if you have the reviewed articles, then the books are a nice addition.

My own first reaction to the email, especially after looking at the website (which doesn't seem to have much to it), was that this has to be some sort of scam.  No one in his or her right mind would publish my dissertation.  And, as sandgrounder asked, how does this company make its money?  Etc.  But the solicitation sent to me was cc:ed to my advisor, who promptly sent me an email saying what a "rare honor" this was and promising to let the entire faculty of my alma mater know of my great achievement.  Does he know something I don't?  Or is he even more clueless than I am?

I'd be grateful for any additional information anyone can provide, beyond what has already been posted here.  Thanks!
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normative_
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Check, please.


« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2008, 5:47:15 AM »

VDM is one of several aggressively advertising German publishers. They are not one of the well-known publishers of the country in the social sciences, such as Nomos or, LIT (which only recently has begun attracting some good quality manuscripts).

I wouldn't respond. VDM markets aggressively to authors, and it does place books in libraries in Germany, but I don't see their books in the bookshops, and you have to think about distribution outside of Germany.

They do seem, however, to break the German mold of publishing your book for money. At Nomos, by far the most respected German social science publisher, you're looking at 11 euros a page or so. So it's at least a good sign that VDM doesn't necessarily operate on the 'we don't care as long as you pay us' model that's standard inthe country.

If you want to see a typical list of books published by VDM that have found their way into a typical, large German uni library, check this out:

https://kataloge.uni-hamburg.de/DB=1/LNG=DU/SID=c3152e42-2/CMD?ACT=SRCHA&IKT=1016&SRT=YOP&TRM=Verlag+Mueller
« Last Edit: February 13, 2008, 5:49:18 AM by normative » Logged

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notaprof
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2008, 5:55:19 AM »

...aggressively German ...

These words scare me!  Run OP, run!
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vagarh
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2008, 9:17:07 AM »

I wouldn't respond. VDM markets aggressively to authors, and it does place books in libraries in Germany, but I don't see their books in the bookshops, and you have to think about distribution outside of Germany.

I know that our (very large) library has a standing order for VDM books that come through one of the distributors, so they do get out there; we must have thousands. The books are not very aesthetically impressive, cover-wise (it's that plasticy-paper for the covers), but they otherwise look professional--moreso than Edwin Mellen, for instance, but on the level of the European Peter Langs.

As far as publishing numbers go, VDM seems particularly good at covering some more esoteric historical subjects, and are relatively strong in the medieval studies area. I can't speak to the quality of the content, however.
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infopri
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When all else fails, let us agree to disagree.


« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2008, 12:26:39 PM »

I wouldn't respond. VDM markets aggressively to authors, and it does place books in libraries in Germany, but I don't see their books in the bookshops, and you have to think about distribution outside of Germany.

I was hoping you'd chime in, normative.  Why would you not respond?  I understand your point about distribution (bookshops, U.S. distribution, etc.), but I seriously doubt I'd ever publish the diss as a book anywhere else.  So what would the downside be?  That is, whatever VDM does, is more than is likely to happen without VDM.  At the same time, however:

They do seem, however, to break the German mold of publishing your book for money. At Nomos, by far the most respected German social science publisher, you're looking at 11 euros a page or so. So it's at least a good sign that VDM doesn't necessarily operate on the 'we don't care as long as you pay us' model that's standard inthe country.

Are you saying that VDM is a sort of vanity press (albeit one that does not actually charge the author)?  I have no interest in publishing with any kind of vanity author.  Or are you saying that it is the norm for German publishers to require payment from the authors?

If you want to see a typical list of books published by VDM that have found their way into a typical, large German uni library, check this out:

https://kataloge.uni-hamburg.de/DB=1/LNG=DU/SID=c3152e42-2/CMD?ACT=SRCHA&IKT=1016&SRT=YOP&TRM=Verlag+Mueller

Alas, most of those titles are (duh) in German.  VDM's own website provides a list of their titles in English:

http://www.vdm-publishing.com/index.php?&act=nav&nav=10042

It's a little disheartening that they boast about having their books in eight (count 'em; eight!) whole libraries (at least, in the U.S.).

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People who do not understand numbers should not be allowed to use them for anything. - DvF

MYOB.  Y enseņen bien a sus hijos.
vagarh
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2008, 12:58:01 PM »

I know that our (very large) library has a standing order for VDM books that come through one of the distributors, so they do get out there; we must have thousands.

Tsk..only hundreds, but very few in English.
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infopri
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When all else fails, let us agree to disagree.


« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2008, 1:19:37 PM »

I know that our (very large) library has a standing order for VDM books that come through one of the distributors, so they do get out there; we must have thousands.

Tsk..only hundreds, but very few in English.

My local university, which has a decent collection, apparently holds nothing from VDM.
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People who do not understand numbers should not be allowed to use them for anything. - DvF

MYOB.  Y enseņen bien a sus hijos.
normative_
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Check, please.


« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2008, 1:24:25 PM »

InfoPri, when I started writing, that was before I realised that they don't demand (advance) payment for publishing your book. That is absolutely the norm in Germany, and a key reason why I won't do it. You also need to know that there is a huge captive market for the service in Germany, because your doctorate is not official until you have a book contract. So time is of the essence. There is also a competition in Germany on how much you can publish, which means that a system of vetting would simply get in the way. That's what these guys live off of.

So the fact that they don't take money for it (if this is true in the fine print) means that they will, in fact, consider the marketability of it. Hopefully, quality will play a role in there.

At the end of the day, it would be better to be published in a not-so-good house than in none at all. I just know that for my brand of the social sciences, it would be a real embarrassment to place it there. But YMMV.

PM me if you want to chat about that in more detail.


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Fortune favors the bold.

Quote from: mountainguy
Excellent analysis by Normative.
Quote from: tenured_feminist
All hail Normie!
Quote from: systeme_d
Normative, that was superb.
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