monograph in Adema & Hall 2013

be rethought in an ongoing manner.

Keywords: Artists’ books, Academic Publishing, Radical Open Access, Politics,
Democracy, Materiality

Janneke Adema is a PhD student at Coventry University, writing a dissertation on the
future of the scholarly monograph. She is the author of the OAPEN report Overview
of Open Access Models for eBooks in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2010) and
has published in The International Journal of Cultural Studies, New Media & Society,
New Review of Academic Librarianshi

ideas on which the book as both a concept and a material object is based, this essay
endeavours to demonstrate how developments undergone by the artist’s book in the
1960s and 1970s can help us to understand some of the changes the scholarly
monograph is experiencing now, at a time when its mode of production, distribution,
organisation and consumption is shifting from analogue to digital and from codex to
net. In what follows we will thus argue that a reading of the history of the artist’s
book can be generative for reimagining the future of the scholarly monograph, both
with respect to the latter’s potential form and materiality in the digital age, and with
respect to its relation to the economic system in which book production, distribution,
organisation and consumption takes place. Issues of access and exp

eds), Artist/Author, 1998.
Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, Chicago,
University of Chicago Press, 1998.


3) The Use of Accessible Technologies
As is the case with the current changes to the scholarly monograph, the rise of artists’
books can be perceived to have been underpinned (though by no means determined)
by developments in technology, with the revolution in mimeograph and offset
printing helping to take artists’ books out of the realm of expensiv

s it a much more intensive process. 42 And that is just to publish journal
articles. Publishing books on an author-pays basis would be more expensive still.

Yet even though the open access movement initially focused more on journal articles
than on monographs, things have begun to change in this respect in recent years.
Undoubtedly, one of the major factors behind this change has been the fact that the


Maria Bonn, ‘Free Exchange of Ideas: Experimenting with the Open Access Monograph’,
College and Research Libraries News, 71, 8, September (2010) pp436-439:
Patrick Alexander, director of the Pennsylvania State University Press, provides the
following example: ‘Open Access STEM pub

edu/~peters/writing/apa.htm. ‘On average, humanities journals have
higher rejection rates (70-90%) than STEM journals (20-40%)’, Suber writes.


publication of books on an open access basis has been perceived as one possible
answer to the ‘monograph crisis’. This phrase refers to the way in which the already
feeble sustainability of the print monograph is being endangered even further by the
ever-declining sales of academic books. 43 It is a situation that has in turn been brought
about by ‘the so-called “serials crisis”, a term used to designate the vertiginous rise of
the subscription to STEM journals since the mid-80s which… strangled libraries and
led to fewer and fewer purchases of books/monographs.’ 44 This drop in library
demand for monographs has led many presses to produce smaller print runs; focus on
more commercial, marketable titles; or even move away from monographs to
concentrate on text books, readers, and reference works instead. In short, conventional
academic publishers are now having to make decisions about what to publish more on
the basis of the market and a given text’s potential value as a commodity, and less on
the basis of its quality as a piece of scholarship. This last factor is making it difficult
for early career academics to publish the kind of research-led monographs that are
often needed to acquire that all important first full-time position. This in turn means
the HSS is, in effect, allowing publishers to make decisions on its future and on who
gets to have a long-term career on an economic basis, according to the needs of the
market – or what they believe those needs to be. But it is also making it hard for


Greco and Wharton estimate that the average number of library purchases of monographs
has dropped from 1500 in the 1970s to 200-300 at present. Thompson estimates that print
runs and sales have declined from 2000-3000 (print runs and sales) in the 1970s to print runs
of between 600-1000 and sales of between 400-500 nowadays. Albert N

ces and Humanities Publishing and the Digital “Revolution”’
unpublished manuscript, 2010:; Thompson, Books in the Digital Age, pp. 9394.


authors in the HSS generally to publish monographs that are perceived as being
difficult, advanced, specialized, obscure, radical, experimental or avant-garde - a
situation reminiscent of the earlier state of events which led to the rise of artists’
books, with the latter emerging in the context of a perceived lack of exhibition space
for experimental and critical (conceptual) work within mainstream commercial

Partly in response to this ‘monograph crisis’, a steadily increasing number of
initiatives have now been set up to enable authors in the HSS in particular to bring out
books open access – not just introductions, reference works and text books, but
research monographs and edited collections too. These initiatives include scholar-led
presses such as Open Humanities Press,, and Open Book Publishers;
commercial presses such as Bloomsbury Academic; university presses, including
ANU E Press and Firenze University Press; and presses established by or working
with libraries, such as Athabasca University’s AU Press. 45

Yet important though the widespread aspiration amongst academics, librarians and
presses to find a solution to the monograph crisis has been, the reasons behind the
development of open access book publishing in the HSS are actually a lot more
diverse than is often suggested. For instance, to the previously detailed motivating
factors that inspired the rise of the open acce

l procedures, preservation
structures and textual forms as their print counterparts: pre-publication peer review
conducted by scholars who have already established their reputations in the paper
world; preservation carried out by academic libraries; monographs consisting of
numbered pages and chapters arranged in a linear, sequential order and narrative, and
so on. As Sigi Jöttkandt puts it with regard to the strategy of Open Humanities Press
in this respect:

We’re intending OHP as a tangible demonstr


Display 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 ALL characters around the word.