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Author Topic: Facts About The Edwin Mellen Press  (Read 72111 times)
yellowtractor
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« Reply #255 on: February 09, 2013, 6:56:25 PM »

YT, you are right that Mellen did not suffer much from the Lingua Franca dustup. Yet look how many of us remember it. And the LF article is not available online--everything about the current controversy is, and will remain so. I do think this is blowing up in their faces.

In ways they could have predicted if (a) they had any web savvy and (b) they were at all familiar with contemporary academic publishing protocols in North America and the UK.  Which is to say yes, I agree with this, but I don't think they get it, on either account, so I don't expect any change of behavior.

SecretaryX, if you'd like to comment on the lawsuit, we'd be glad to receive your input!  Or perhaps some of your authors would like to comment on it?
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santommaso
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« Reply #256 on: February 09, 2013, 7:36:21 PM »

[...]And the LF article is not available online--everything about the current controversy is, and will remain so. [...]

Somone wishing to read the original Lingua Franca exposé is forced to consult an Edwin Mellen volume about the lawsuit, as the volume reprints the original article as an appendix:

http://mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=7023&pc=9

The LF article, titled "Vanity's Fare", was not included in the 2002 anthology of LF articles published as "Quick Studies: The Best of Lingua Franca."

Didn't the CHE purchase rights to LF? If so, the CHE could put it online, no?
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tee_bee
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« Reply #257 on: February 11, 2013, 11:05:09 AM »

Here is a Change.org petition for the Edwin Mellen Press to drop the lawsuit:

http://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university

Change.org petitions are to real political action as the Mellen press is to real academic scholarship.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 11:07:17 AM by tee_bee » Logged
tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #258 on: February 11, 2013, 12:44:16 PM »

Here is a Change.org petition for the Edwin Mellen Press to drop the lawsuit:

http://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university

Change.org petitions are to real political action as the Mellen press is to real academic scholarship.

Well then for goodness' sake, don't sign it!  God forbid you should offer even a minor gesture of support for a librarian being sued by a publisher for offering his opinion to the public.
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larryc
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« Reply #259 on: February 11, 2013, 3:35:44 PM »

YT does raise a good point though--in two years, in five years, will it matter that EMP tried to use the courts to silence a free discussion of its work? I would hope so, but maybe not.

EMP began this offensive because they were concerned about critical discussions of their press showing up in the search results for their name. It just got a lot worse for them!

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tee_bee
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« Reply #260 on: February 11, 2013, 9:23:38 PM »

Here is a Change.org petition for the Edwin Mellen Press to drop the lawsuit:

http://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university

Change.org petitions are to real political action as the Mellen press is to real academic scholarship.

Well then for goodness' sake, don't sign it!  God forbid you should offer even a minor gesture of support for a librarian being sued by a publisher for offering his opinion to the public.

Well, sure, if the goal is to provide "a minor gesture of support," an online petition is a fine thing to sign. But if the goal is to actually advocate for, and press for, some sort of behavioral change on the part of the press, this tool is no more effective than the vast majority of other petitions. Yes, my comment is cynical, but I think it better to point this out than to let stand the idea that change.org is an effective instrument of...well, change. Because it's not.

But, sure, I will sign. And I will be in touch with my professional association, my librarians, etc. I don't know how much that will matter, either, but likely more than an online petition.
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #261 on: February 11, 2013, 11:09:04 PM »

Here is a Change.org petition for the Edwin Mellen Press to drop the lawsuit:

http://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university

Change.org petitions are to real political action as the Mellen press is to real academic scholarship.

Well then for goodness' sake, don't sign it!  God forbid you should offer even a minor gesture of support for a librarian being sued by a publisher for offering his opinion to the public.

Well, sure, if the goal is to provide "a minor gesture of support," an online petition is a fine thing to sign.  But if the goal is to actually advocate for, and press for, some sort of behavioral change on the part of the press, this tool is no more effective than the vast majority of other petitions. Yes, my comment is cynical, but I think it better to point this out than to let stand the idea that change.org is an effective instrument of...well, change. Because it's not.

But, sure, I will sign. And I will be in touch with my professional association, my librarians, etc. I don't know how much that will matter, either, but likely more than an online petition.

Ok, tee-bee, fair enough.  But do you actually study how political change happens?  (perhaps you do) I don't think there's any way to predict where this is going.  I would say there is at least some possibility that a boycott movement might develop among academic librarians.  And that could put Mellen out of business rather quickly, given that the vast majority of ordinary citizens are unlikely to shell out $100+ for a book on a very obscure topic, which is what they specialize in.

Academic librarians are Mellen's primary market.  They are suing their primary market.  For millions of dollars.

And of course if Mellen's ship sails right off the map into oblivion that would be a tragic, tragic turn of events.
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tee_bee
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« Reply #262 on: February 11, 2013, 11:19:57 PM »


Ok, tee-bee, fair enough.  But do you actually study how political change happens?  (perhaps you do) I don't think there's any way to predict where this is going.  I would say there is at least some possibility that a boycott movement might develop among academic librarians.  And that could put Mellen out of business rather quickly, given that the vast majority of ordinary citizens are unlikely to shell out $100+ for a book on a very obscure topic, which is what they specialize in.

Academic librarians are Mellen's primary market.  They are suing their primary market.  For millions of dollars.

And of course if Mellen's ship sails right off the map into oblivion that would be a tragic, tragic turn of events.


In fact, I do study political and policy change--it's the thrust of my research. I also teach about the different forms of political action, from voting, to writing a letter to the editor, to marching in the street, etc. Online petitions strike me as being about as effective as a democrat writing to a republican to oppose a republican position, or vice versa. It's not that there's zero value, but the value of each additional signature is more the overall "weight" of the mailsack on one or the other side.

I entirely agree with the idea of fomenting a boycott among academic librarians; that's a form of direct action that stands in sharp contrast with the nearly meaningless gesture of signing a petition, to Mellen, that would be ignored by Mellen.

Indeed, I think I might talk to our librarians about this. They are very cool, and very savvy ;-)
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runwithscissors
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« Reply #263 on: February 12, 2013, 7:18:07 AM »

I forwarded the details of EMP's legal action to my acquisitions librarian this morning, urging them to consider the status of publishers vis-a-vis academic freedom when choosing to purchase monographs. Others on the forum may wish to do the same.
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tenured_feminist
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« Reply #264 on: February 12, 2013, 8:29:00 AM »

Don't forget book review editors when you are sending out your notes.
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #265 on: February 12, 2013, 12:01:48 PM »


Ok, tee-bee, fair enough.  But do you actually study how political change happens?  (perhaps you do) I don't think there's any way to predict where this is going.  I would say there is at least some possibility that a boycott movement might develop among academic librarians.  And that could put Mellen out of business rather quickly, given that the vast majority of ordinary citizens are unlikely to shell out $100+ for a book on a very obscure topic, which is what they specialize in.

Academic librarians are Mellen's primary market.  They are suing their primary market.  For millions of dollars.

And of course if Mellen's ship sails right off the map into oblivion that would be a tragic, tragic turn of events.


In fact, I do study political and policy change--it's the thrust of my research. I also teach about the different forms of political action, from voting, to writing a letter to the editor, to marching in the street, etc. Online petitions strike me as being about as effective as a democrat writing to a republican to oppose a republican position, or vice versa. It's not that there's zero value, but the value of each additional signature is more the overall "weight" of the mailsack on one or the other side.

I entirely agree with the idea of fomenting a boycott among academic librarians; that's a form of direct action that stands in sharp contrast with the nearly meaningless gesture of signing a petition, to Mellen, that would be ignored by Mellen.

Indeed, I think I might talk to our librarians about this. They are very cool, and very savvy ;-)


Cool!  I'm happy to have this conversation with someone who actually knows more than I do.  So here's my perspective on the value of the petition:  I don't for a minute expect that this petition will magically persuade Mellen to stop bullying librarians.  In fact, I don't think anyone who has signed it does.  

It seems to me, however, that it does help to contribute to broader awareness among faculty and academic librarians, a sense that there is pretty broad outrage in both the US and Canada, it helps to build a political discourse that might actually have some consequences.  It also helps to distribute further information about Mellen's tactics.  For example, a new link on the petition site includes this information:

Quote
A few months ago, a voicemail message was left on my office phone. It was from Dr. Herbert Richardson, owner of Edwin Mellen Press (EMP). He said that whereas our library had purchased a significant number of books from his press in the past, we had bought only a handful in recent years, and he wanted to know why. He also mentioned that he would be willing to donate $50,000 worth of EMP titles to our library, and asked me to call him back.

When I did, Dr. Richardson asked why we had stopped buying his press’ books. I explained that it was because we felt his books were generally overpriced and of poor quality, and I told him that we would not be interested in receiving a large gift of EMP titles.

Here's another interesting detail about the owner of EMP that we may find interesting:

Quote
In 1993, Dr. Richardson brought a similar suit against Lingua Franca magazine in response to an article (not available online) by Warren St. John, titled “Vanity’s Fare: How One Tiny Press Made $2.5 Million Selling Opuscules to Your University Library.” Dr. Richardson lost that suit. In 1994, he was found guilty of gross misconduct by an academic tribunal and fired from his tenured position at the University of Toronto; his press subsequently published a book about the affair titled Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High-Achieving Professors.

There's a link to an article with more information about his being "sacked."  
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 12:03:39 PM by tuxedo_cat » Logged

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santommaso
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« Reply #266 on: February 12, 2013, 4:24:48 PM »

More info:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/02/litigation/press-sues-librarian-over-negative-evaluation/

http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/02/11/you-probably-think-this-song-is-about-you-edwin-mellen-press-vs-a-critical-librarian/
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #267 on: February 12, 2013, 5:20:57 PM »

No longer taking the position of semi-supporting Mellen due to the ridiculous lawsuit.
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akela
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« Reply #268 on: February 12, 2013, 6:08:48 PM »

Here's something to keep in mind when talking with your subject librarian about this:

It is my understanding that very few EMP titles are firm ordered (individually selected) by subject librarians -- after all, they do know their trade.  A majority of EMP books appear in library catalogs via approval plan shipments.   

Approval plans are arrangements to receive large numbers of titles from a distributor without placing individual orders.  The distributor makes the selection based on a set of parameters set by the client library.  Since EMP presents itself as an academic press, its titles often are ordered by default. 

It is easy to specify that books from an individual press not be selected on your library's approval plan.  All it takes is for the collection management librarian to make a call to the distributor.  If enough libraries do this, it will make a dramatic difference to the EMP bottom line and might eventually lead to their being dropped by the distributor.
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mouseman
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« Reply #269 on: February 12, 2013, 7:19:41 PM »


SecretaryX seems strangely silent.  It's been 6 days since the last quoted author.  I think that now I shall start posting questions on those authors webpages about whether they support Mellen's lawsuit.  Should be interesting...
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