To publish, or not to publish, that is the question!

No, not Hamlet. This is the question Joseph Stromberg asked himself while writing for Slate.

In a fabulous piece on Lambert Academic Publishing, he decided (as a laugh) to publish his Master’s dissertation.

The joy of seeing your work in print.

He wasn’t moving on in academia. He didn’t care. Rather, this was a good way to write an article about taking “a trip through the shadowy, surreal world of an academic book mill.” It’s a great piece, and well worth a read.

Now, I’ve been asked by Lambert Academic Publishing to move ahead and turn an article of mine into a full-on book.

**

Last month I published a short piece in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on heroin and end-of-life discussions in the 1980s. I’m proud of it.

Now Lambert wants a piece of the action. The message was polite enough.

A few things struck me, though.

One, I’m not a medical doctor. But I do have a PhD. Perhaps try the proper salutation – namely, Dr Richert.

Second, they don’t want to see the ‘potential’ wasted. Not sure what that means? It sounds nice, I must admit. Lambert’s looking out for me.

Third, I’m advised to ‘take a moment’ to consider before I blindly say no. My half-thought-out retort to this: sometimes even a blind man can see. So there.

**

I’m not even close to the first (or 10th or 100,000th) person to raise the issue of predatory publishing and book mills.

But now I’ve got my own story, apart from the mountain of spam emails I get every week.

For more in-depth info, here’s a short excerpt from the Stromberg piece I mentioned above:

‘…I did a bit more research into LAP Lambert and found that it’s really just the tip of the book-mill iceberg. Both it and AV Akademikerverlag GmbH & Co. KG are part of an enormous German publishing group called VDM that publishes 78 imprints and 27 subsidiary houses in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian, and plans to soon open up shop in Turkey and China. It has satellite offices in Latvia and Uruguay, but the majority of its English- and French-speaking staff are based in the tax haven of Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. Founded in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2002 by a man named Dr. Wolfgang Philipp Müller, the company is notorious for using on-demand printing technology to package all sorts of strange content in book form and selling it online. The company declines to release financial data but claims to publish 50,000 books every month, making it, by its own accounting, one of the largest book publishers in the world.

‘How can it possibly churn out this many titles? Although a huge number are academic texts, hundreds of thousands result from an even stranger process: They’re built entirely from text copied from Wikipedia articles. On VDM’s own online bookstore, Morebooks.de, the listings for books like Tidal Power, Period (number), and Swimming Pool Sanitation (published by VDM’s Alphascript and Betascript imprints) directly acknowledge this fact. Thousands are listed for sale on Amazon, all with the same cover design (albeit with different stock photos swapped in) and the same three names (Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster) listed as the “authors.” Some go for as much as $100. Though the practice is technically legal—most Wikipedia content is published under licenses that allow it to be reproduced—critics say that it’s unethical and deceitful for the company to profit from content freely available on the Web.’

Watch out, folks!

**

 

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