How will the Amherst College Press be funded?

The library will contribute two editorial positions by repurposing positions opened through retirements. Amherst’s Advancement office will raise funds to endow a directorship. Existing endowments will cover operating expenses.

What will the Press publish?

Long- and medium-length narratives—“books,” or “scholarly novellas,” if you like—in a small list of disciplines in the liberal arts. The choice of specific lists will await the arrival of a director. Books will be freely available over the Internet for printing and for multiple reading devices.

How can a library justify an endeavor for which it obtains no revenue?

First, libraries have a fundamental obligation to make quality information available to everybody who desires it. The current system of publishing does not allow us to meet this obligation.

Second, though it will cost us a great deal to produce literature for free, we anticipate a tipping point in academic publishing. When some presses (Amherst, Michigan, National Academies, Penn State) disseminate free literature, everybody (including those who run libraries) will enjoy access to that literature. In turn, free literature means less literature to purchase, which means means fewer expenditures from our acquisitions budgets. And that means more money for expenditures elsewhere, such as free publishing.

In other words, when enough institutions make the leap into free publishing, the savings achieved—by no longer having to purchase (now free) publications from University Press X, Commercial Press Y and Trade Press Z—will more than offset the costs incurred when libraries contribute resources to support open-access publishing. When some critical mass of university presses make publications available to anybody with an Internet connection, the savings realized by libraries will more than offset the expense of running a press.

When will the press begin soliciting manuscripts?

As soon as we hire a director, which we anticipate by summer 2013.

What can the Amherst College Press offer authors?

It will offer

    • excellent editorial support—a service in woefully short supply in scholarly publishing
    • multimedia capabilities unavailable at other academic presses
    • a readership heretofore unimaginable.

Isn’t this endeavor wildly idealistic?