7.0349 Rs: Edwin Mellen Press (5/136)

Thu, 16 Dec 1993 18:02:25 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0349. Thursday, 16 Dec 1993.

(1) Date: 16 Dec 1993 00:02:02 -0500 (CDT) (36 lines)
From: MCSWAIN@Acd.Tusk.Edu
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

(2) Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 07:33:21 -0230 (14 lines)
From: hans@kean.ucs.mun.ca
Subject: RE: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

(3) Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 10:39:08 -0500 (19 lines)
From: Thomas Izbicki <izbicki@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

(4) Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 11:26:03 EST (23 lines)
From: Charles L. Creegan <ccreegan@uncecs.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

(5) Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 12:53:36 CST (44 lines)
From: "Tony Schwartz, Rice U." <SCHWART@ricevm1.rice.edu>
Subject: Re: Edwin Mellen Pr.

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 16 Dec 1993 00:02:02 -0500 (CDT)
From: MCSWAIN@Acd.Tusk.Edu
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

Regarding the Mellen Press, I have read some of the recent material on
the press, but my experience with the press have been quite normal. I
made proposals to various US university presses, but received polite
"no thanks" for several reasons: the proposed work is too narrow and
will not sell; it is a topic already well covered by people far more
famous, accomplished and recognized than me (assumption: so you, a
teacher in a college south of the Ohio River could not possibly have
anything to say worth listening to); our press does not specialize in
that area, etc. All are valid reasons. I then made the same proposal
to Mellen, they thanked me for the proposal and said we will be back in
touch. Several months later I got a letter stating that their editorial
committee had carefully considered my porposal, and had agreed
conditionally to accept my proposal for publication. No royalties, but
the book would remain in print and would be sold in a limited number to
research libraries. In other words Mellen took me seriously, which can
mean one of several things: I am incompetent as my southern accent
indicates (that is what someone in New England once told me in all
seriousness), and so Mellen will take almost anyone because it is a big
ripoff; Mellen will take material no one else will touch because they
just want to make money; or maybe they want to make a profit and make it
possible for material to be published which has scholarly value but is
not financially feasible through normal channels . . . Which are true I
cannot say, but after years of working on a manuscript and finally
finding an interested publisher, to have the publisher labelled "vanity"
is the kiss of death. If your book is published, you will never escape
this charge. So, I am not sure what to do at this point. Since my
manuscript is still several years from completion, maybe this will be
sorted out in the meantime, but in terms of professional advancement,
it seems to be quite damaging for those already published by Mellen, and
potentially for people who are working on major projects with the goal
that Mellen will put it into print. James McSwain, Tuskegee University
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------29----
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 07:33:21 -0230
From: hans@kean.ucs.mun.ca
Subject: RE: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

Irving, it seems to me that MELLEN, UNIVERSITY PRESSES OF AMERICA, and
PETER LANG are considered less reputable than the solid University Presses
or academic publishers, because of their lack of refereeing.
The exceptions are series within those presses, where editors undertake a
rigorous editorial control. Individual volumes even outside of specific
series may be quite good. It's the lack of a uniform quality control that
makes colleagues I have spoken to somewhat unsure about their academic

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------33----
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 10:39:08 -0500
From: Thomas Izbicki <izbicki@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

As a publishing scholar, as well as a librarian,
I have given a great deal of thought to Mellen.
I have severe reservations about many,
but not all, of the titles
which I have seen.
Certain of the titles have been little more
than extended articles with wide spacing and margins,
bindings and price tags.
As a publishing scholar, Mellen would be among my last choices
for a monograph or collection from my hand;
but I understand the value of an outlet like that
for materials with restricted markets.

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------37----
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 11:26:03 EST
From: Charles L. Creegan <ccreegan@uncecs.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press

The catalogue I just recieved from Edwin Mellen Press includes a
statement of policy, which says among other things that the Press
neither accepts subventions nor pays royalties. To my knowledge this
has always been their policy.

According to Dr. Ruth Richardson, an editor at the Press and daughter of
its founder and head Dr. Herbert Richardson, the recent negative
commentary is instigated by a disgruntled former employee, who was fired
for reasons the Press considered sufficient. I gather that lawsuits are

In my opinion, the high physical quality and scholarly value of books in
my field published by the Press speaks for itself. Others should form
their own opinions based on first-hand examination.

(For the record I know Ruth Richardson from graduate school; I have no
financial connection with Edwin Mellen Press.)
Charles Creegan  NC Wesleyan College  ccreegan@uncecs.edu
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------52----
Date:         Thu, 16 Dec 93 12:53:36 CST
From:         "Tony Schwartz, Rice U." <SCHWART@ricevm1.rice.edu>
Subject:      Re: Edwin Mellen Pr.
Irving Hexham's concern about African Religion studies published by
Edwin Mellon Pr. raises a number of issues.
1)  Mellon Pr. was able to publish books in highly specialized areas,
such as Mr. Hexham's, because it relied on a huge academic library
market to acquire books somewhat indiscriminately.  In the age of the
Internet, that strategy may be doomed.  The negative press reports Mr.
Hexham referred to received a lot of attention in Internet discussion
groups of collection development librarians.  What we found is that
many of us had outright excluded Mellon Pr. from our approval plans,
which meant that acquisition of Mellon Pr. depended completely on a
direct order for a specific title.  Undoubtedly, after that exchange
of views, and with Mr. Hexham's note on HUMANIST, more and more
libraries will exclude Mellon Pr. and rely on faculty requests for
its titles.
2)  In 1990 the Am. Assoc. of Univ. Presses published a monograph on
book publication output trends.  This report concluded with a list of
research areas that were nearly extinct, partly because they were too
small to be economically viable to a press.  The list is dominated by
African area studies: architecture, dance, economics, music, religion,
sociology, theater.  Mr. Hexham's specific concern reflects a general
3) As Mr. Hexham probably knows, both Lang and Indiana Univ. Press
have been committed to African Studies, essentially subsidizing titles
by sales in more "popular" areas (e.g., local Indiana history).  I
mention that only because it reflects a somewhat unusual situation--
most univ. presses are under too much pressure to break even financially
to subsidize marginal research areas.
4)  Academic librarians have as much interest as Mr. Hexham in trying to
resolve this problem.  The Am. Assoc. of College and Research Libraries
publishes AFRICAN LIBRARIES NEWSLETTER, which is a very thorough review
of what is on the market worldwide.  The editor, Joe Lauer at Michigan
State Univ. Libraries, East Lansing, MI would be a good source for
alternative sources to publishing and promoting books in this area.
(I myself know very little about African bibliography but am broadly
interested in the problem of adverse market forces for scholarly