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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: January ::
Price of Academic Journals
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0009  Friday, 5 January 2007

From: 		Todd Pettigrew <
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Date: 		Thursday, 04 Jan 2007 12:29:25 -0400
Subject: 18.0006 Price of Academic Journals
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0006 Price of Academic Journals

On the matter of textbook publishers, I feel I must rise to the defence 
of WW Norton and Company. (Full disclosure:  I worked for Norton from 
1998-2000, but have no financial interest in the company).

Contrary to what many believe, Norton is not a publishing giant, nor is 
it part of a massive conglomerate as many commercial text book 
publishers are today. Rather it is a mid-size company, owned entirely by 
its employees, and, fights valiantly against huge multinationals like 
Pearson who would gladly crush it like a bug if they could.

As with other publishers, Norton faces a challenge with used books 
because the sale of a used text does not provide any revenue for the 
publishers (nor royalties for the authors, I might add). Indeed, in most 
cases, textbook publishers make almost all their profits in the first 
two years of a new edition, after which sales drop off as used books 
become widely available. Thus textbook prices continue to rise, and 
publishers are pressured to bring out new editions frequently.

As for literature and for Shakespeare in particular, Norton has brought 
out new editions of its lit anthologies at a pace that is positively 
glacial by industry standards -- about every six or seven years for the 
Norton Anthology of English Literature, and the Norton Shakespeare 
remains in its first edition since, I think, around 1996. As for me, I 
am actually looking forward to a new Norton Shakespeare, not because the 
plays need updating, but because I would like updated notes and 
bibliographies that represent the current state of the discipline.

Todd Pettigrew
Cape Breton University

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