Puzzling about philosophy books

1. Publishers usually set the prices of philosophy books so as to exploit the market, rather than so as to maximize readership. I hate my publisher especially, but putting ideas in books often means sequestering them where they won’t be read.

2. Most philosophy is best done in journal articles, both for reasons of style and dissemination. Philosophy is no longer a discipline that requires a book for tenure. So the obvious response to 1 is just not to write books.

Nevertheless, there are still some projects that make sense as books rather than as articles. So what’s one to do?

3. For a textbook, I can offer it as an Open Education Resource. If it meets a need, other people will use it. And it can be acknowledged as legit after the fact.

4. For a monograph, I can share an unformatted draft in the same way I do for articles. This kind of self-archiving (Green OA) should be more common than it is, but that’s a rant for another post.

The thing I’m puzzling about is what alternatives there are for the published book itself.

5. This post felt like it should be a list of numbered points, even though it looks pretentious now that I’ve typed it out.

3 thoughts on “Puzzling about philosophy books”

  1. There are a few academic open access publishers in the UK that have published philosophy monographs or might do so. The catch is that authors must pay $10k or something if the book is accepted, but I think this fee can sometimes be waved if you can’t get an external grant or your university library to cover it. E.g., https://www.openbookpublishers.com/ (several philosophy books already published), https://universitypress.whiterose.ac.uk/ (Tom Stoneham on editorial board).

  2. Thanks for commenting. (Your comment got caught in moderation for a short while, because the use of a dollar sign and some links got flagged as probable spam!)

    Open Book Publishers’ name sounds unfortunately like the kind of shady operation that runs rubbishy author-pays journals, but their catalog seems to have things from some notable, legit authors. It looks as if they’ve dropped the $10k fee, too. This may be just a change of rhetoric, since they still encourage authors to find outside funding. It may be that most authors got the fee waived. But not having a fee be the default does even more to distance them from shady journal mills.

    White Rose seems to only have published a couple of titles, with no philosophy so far.

  3. Yeah, not sure whether White Rose will take off, but at least it’s got a philosopher on the editorial board. There are several other open access academic presses in the UK, but they haven’t published philosophy. I also dislike the Open Book Publishers name, but as you say, they’ve published more monographs by well known philosophers than any other academic open access press.

    I’m thinking about this for a reader I’m starting to work on, because I suspect my university will prefer an “academic press” with refereeing (even Open Book Publishers) to something self-published.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.