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ITHAKA S+R Releases New Report on Costs of Publishing Scholarly Monographs

AAUP heralds ITHAKA S+R’s publication today of “The Costs of Publishing Monographs: Towards a Transparent Methodology.”  The study, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and conducted by Nancy Maron and Kimberly Schmelzinger, developed a ground-up, activity-based methodology for understanding the full cost of publishing high-quality university press monographs. ITHAKA worked with twenty members of the Association of American University Presses to examine in detail the direct and indirect costs associated with producing the first digital copy of nearly 400 scholarly monographs.

This is a foundational report, of great value across the AAUP community and in conversations with authors, funders, universities, libraries, and policy makers. Not only is its relevance to institutional financial support for scholarly communications apparent, it also will bring clarity to individual presses’ operations, and provide critical intelligence in decision-making.

Too often, the range of activities that go into publishing a monograph at a university press has been poorly understood in conversations surrounding questions of funding and pricing. This study shines needed light on those activities, uncovering empirically the variables that can push those figures up or down. By detailing the current activity-based costs of publishing high-quality monographs in the humanities and social sciences, this study should create a common base of understanding as the academy considers new models of financial support for this mode of scholarship.

One of the key findings that the ITHAKA report demonstrates is the extraordinary investment that university presses put into acquisitions of their monograph titles. This work, described by one acquiring editor as “a 24/7 job,” is the heart and soul of university presses and the investment pays off for presses, authors, universities, and future researchers. The report also addresses the invaluable contributions of marketing activities to the discovery and dissemination—whether by open access or sale—of monographs.

“The considerable effort that went into this study has been well worthwhile. In aggregate, the average basic cost pinpointed here confirms other recent studies at Indiana and Michigan universities, and also shows that there is no magic number,” said Peter Berkery. “As richly diverse as the scholarly projects themselves are, there are always going to be different needs for each book, for each author, and for each editorial list. This study can help us all determine how to value, and thus how to support, those needs.”

AAUP extends its thanks to the study’s authors, to ITHAKA, to the Mellon Foundation, and especially to the 406 individuals within the AAUP community who contributed to the collection of data. Without their dedication and generosity, both in expertise and time, this clear new understanding would have been impossible.

Read the Report: The Costs of Publishing Monographs: Toward a Transparent Methodology

About AAUP

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) is an organization of more than 135 international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, AAUP advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds integrity, diversity, stewardship, and intellectual freedom as core values. AAUP members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, the arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing.

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John Michael Eadicicco
Communications Coordinator, AAUP
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