Thursday, March 03, 2016

Cost of Publishing University Press Monographs

Ithaka S+R recently published a study conducted during 2015 of the costs of publishing monographs within the University Press environment.  Here is a link to the study (pdf)

In summary their findings are as follows:
  • Regardless of group type, the largest cost item for university presses is staff time, specifically the time related to activities of acquisitions, the area most closely tied to the character and reputation of the press. This activity is least likely to be outsourced, and considered to be closely tied to its financial success: acquisitions editors being the ones with the skill, subject expertise, and relationships needed to attract the most promising authors and topics to the press.
  • The working hypothesis at the outset of the study was that larger presses would demonstrate a lower per-book cost, presuming that larger houses are able to work more efficiently due to the economic benefits of scaling. Based on the data contributed by the individual presses, the small university presses in group 1 have been able to produce monographs at a lower cost than the other groups. It is impossible to determine if this signals greater efficiency on the part of the small presses or it simply means they underinvest in their publications.
  • We looked for significant determinants of cost. While press size, page count, and number of illustrations showed a relationship to cost, other factors, including whether or not the title was a “first book,” whether or not the press was at an institution that required it to pay rent, or whet
  • her the press was at a public versus private institution, did not. An examination of disciplines was not conclusive, due to small sample size.

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