Amherst College, Amherst, MA, plans to get into academic publishing next year, but not in the usual way. The school intends to offer up to 15 digital-only titles per year that will be subject to traditional peer reviewing and editing, and also free to use. The college library is a driving force behind the project, which was called “wildly idealistic” in the school’s announcement.
“We’re going to lose money, and that’s fine,” said Amherst Librarian Bryn Geffert, in an article for Inside Higher Education.
School and library officials say they believe an academic press is consistent with the mission of the college. Geffert hopes that by employing the same sorts of quality controls used in traditional academic publishing, the Amherst effort will prove to critics that digital material can be of equal value to its print counterpart.
Geffert also said he hopes that Amherst will create a model for other libraries to produce digital academic content at lower costs.
“My grand dream—quixotic though may be—is that if enough libraries begin doing what we’re doing, at some point there’s going to be a critical mass of freely available scholarly literature,” he said. “Literature that libraries don’t have to purchase. And if they use those savings to publish more material, you reach a tipping point.”