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Jennifer Crewe with Jeffrey J. Williams Editor as Ambassador: An Interview with Jennifer Crewe Jennifer Crewe is Editorial Director of Columbia University Press. This interview took place in on 5 February 2004 in her office at the Press. It was conducted by Jeffrey J. Williams, editor ofminnesota review and transcribed by Jason Arthur, editorial assistantfor the review and a doctoral student at University ofMissouri. Williams: There's been a lot of talk in the past ten years about academic publishing and the dire straits ifs in, shrunken in partbecause ofless funding from universities and in part because of book store sales. More recently , Lindsay Waters has criticized tenure requirements of books for sliding the evaluation of people for tenure to presses rather than to colleagues. It isn't the press's job. What do you think is the state of academic publishing now? Crewe: I thinkwe're going through a period oftransition. We're all publishing more books than we did twenty years ago. There's a study being done now funded by the Mellon foundation, under the auspices of the AAUP, and Fordham University business school is doing the study I've seen some of the preliminary findings, particularly in the field of literary studies, which is one area I publish in, and the number of books has significantly increased in the past twenty years. So I wouldn't say we're cutting back or that nobody is publishing scholarly books anymore. I think what's happened is that more and more people are writing books. There are plenty of people, now at the ends of their careers, who are excellent teachers and good writers and have contributed a lot, who didn't have book pressures. They wrote articles. Some didn't even write a book to get tenure; they certainly didn't have to write two books, which is now what I hear is becoming the norm in some places. Maybe ifs not the norm, maybe the younger faculty just/eeZ as though they have to have two books so they'll look better to the tenure committee. So more and more books have gotten published, while fewer and fewer people can keep up with what's published in one field. I went to the first conference ever held on "the crisis in scholarly publishing " about thirteen years ago, sponsored by the ACLS. Steven Humphries, who's at Santa Barbara, a Professor of Islamic history, spoke. He said that when he was a junior scholar he felt as though he had to own every book that was published in his field; otherwise he just didn't feel as though his library was complete. Now so many books are published in his field that he can't possibly keep up. We're publishing more and more scholarly books and fewer and fewer are being bought. 208 the minnesota review There are many reasons for reduced sales of scholarly books. One is a library budgetary problem. Libraries have pressure on all sides, from highpriced , offshore scientific journals—I'm sure you've heard about these— where the subscription fees are really high, $20,000 or more, and they must have those journals for their collections to be adequate. There's also the cost of digitizing the library. They have had to reallocate funds away from monographs in order to pay for these other things. In addition, the sophistication of the interlibrary loan system has grown, so that one library of six or seven can buy that one book and get it to whoever needs it. Williams: So what do you think should be done? Lindsay Waters thinks that tenure should be more focused on articles, and fewer books should be published. Crewe: I think that a lot of the books we see around the tables in the MLA exhibit halls don't really have to be books. Many of them are collections of eight or ten articles the author has already published in journals, and the libraries already own them in a different form, and scholars could access that material. The authors are doing it to add a book to the CV. In some cases they're doing it in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 207-221
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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