Survival Strategies for Academic Publishing

Why have monograph sales declined so sharply? Is it because readers are turning to other sources of information like the Internet, as many observers have speculated? The main explanation almost certainly lies elsewhere. Research libraries constitute a principal market for scholarly monographs, and in the course of the 1980s and 1990s they were subjected to intense pressures of their own: the steep rise in the prices of scientific journals and the increasing costs of information technology. Library budgets were limited, and something had to give. In the period from 1986 to 1998-99, the number of monographs purchased annually by research libraries in the United States declined by more than 25 percent. Since academic publishers were also producing more monographs each year, that meant that an ever-increasing range of available titles was competing for a dwindling pool of resources. —John B. ThompsonSurvival Strategies for Academic Publishing (Chronicle of Higher Education)