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University Presses Share Problems at BEA

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At BookExpo America last week, most commentators focused on the big publishing houses–analyzing booth size and freebie production like tea-leaves. Over at Inside Higher Ed, critic Scott McLemee took a different approach, finding out what university presses thought about the major themes of the fair.

He uncovered some surprising, counter-intuitive bits of wisdom from these smaller houses. According to his article, printed books are still the best option for some small print-run presses and the digital book shift may be an expensive proposition for some university presses.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay: “It’s commonly assumed that e-books won’t incur the same down-the-pike expenses that bound volumes do — in particular, the cost of warehousing them. Server space isn’t free, however. And it’s worth keeping in mind the comment of one representative of a mid-sized university press who asked not to be identified. ‘We have two guys working in our warehouse,’ this person told me. ‘The payroll for both of them costs less than hiring another IT person.’”

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