Following on from last year’s refusal to advertise unread books for payment-in-kind, now I’m going to refuse to publish work that I can’t read. (Maybe this will become a disappointing annual series!)
Recently, I was invited to submit a chapter to be considered for publication in a book on cultural heritage in conflict. It’s a respected series (with a commitment to knowledge exchange); I respect the editors’ work; and common friends like the editors as people and professionals; so I was reluctant to make this decision.
Nonetheless, when I asked about the online archiving of any published chapter, I was warned that the publisher would have ‘very strict terms and conditions’, that I would even have to pay for a paper copy of my own work, and that two institutions (the publisher and their professional associate) would have to agree to online access.
That would put me in the absurd position of publishing an article that I myself couldn’t afford to access. So, I’ve taken the
reckless logical decision not to publish anything that I can’t read.
unconsidered principled position raises the awkward problem that it is theoretically (and I stress theoretically) possible that I could get a job (when I could afford more expensive publications, but people who had not escaped this position could not, which seems less than solidaristic).
If nothing else, it’s awkward because I’m already enthusiastically committed to eventually publishing an academic(ish) book on property destruction in the Cyprus Conflict. However, that will be for a primarily professional audience and [other excuses].
This stand could also undermine any expectation of payment for my labour (such as for a trade book), which would leave me unable to afford to do any more labour (though a trade book would be affordable, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about that). Hopefully some reasonable idea will emerge. Where there’s a web, there’s a way!