Sunday, November 9, 2014

If selfless AGAPE has any real meaning , why aren't all religious publications also available via OPEN ACCESS ?

Money never grow on trees , even in Jesus's day, so printed on paper religious periodical and books will always cost much to manufacture and to ship about and it is only fair that their readers bear some of those costs.

But why not routinely make available the digital versions of the religious serials free as OPEN ACCESS journals and why not make the online versions of print books available as free downloadable e-books ?

Instead many successful religious authors can gain a good deal of personal wealth from their writing and speaking - as do their publishers and speakers' bureaus.

The books might talk much of selfless AGAPE and of charity but their authors fail to walk their own talk.

Religion , far from being too remote and too above the world is , in fact , too much in the world.

Religion is too much in the private sector, too much in the part of the world consumed only with making money - more and more and more money being seen as better and ever better still.

If you've checked out your nation's public sector lately, you will find that public servants also fully expect to have bosses' salaries and benefits.

The values of the private money-making-in-the-temple world has also invaded the public sector and charity/non-profit sectors.

No longer are hospitals run by charitable religious orders - even those 'non-profits' called charities have executive directors pulling down big coin and as likely as not to move on in a few years for a better paying job as a bank VP.

No more is your local library led by a head librarian - they are now called the CEO of the Library and the traditional patrons have all been re-booted as consumers.

Religion publishing needs to look to the world of academic and scientific publishing - with a few caveats

Academics and scientists may not make bank CEO money but they are hardly poor.

Even in the non-tenured world, they do much better than minimum wage workers and  even there the work gives a much higher social status and is far less physically and emotionally demanding than cleaning offices and hotel rooms.

The bulk of academics receive generously adequate salaries, benefits, pensions and their research is almost entirely paid (at least in terms of money and material) by government grants and university aid-in-kind.

Why seek direct author's money for a project where the direct costs were paid for by the public taxpayer ?

 And where the indirect monetary benefits for the author will come away , like bread cast upon waters , in the form of things like an increased number of citations .

Eventually leading to increased academic credibility and thus gaining things like tenure and full professorships,  as well as quicker access to bigger research grants ?

So when the academic come to publish, many seek out OPEN ACCESS journals where the knowledge they have gained is truly added to the global pool of knowledge and not just limited to rich institutions in rich nations.

Religious serials should follow suit.

But scholarly publishing and university presses haven't become so altruistic yet.

One can see why.

The learned societies and university presses are too busy struggling with ever more limited funds to try and produce ever more hardcover books that then sell ever less copies (maybe 300 copies worldwide if they are lucky) .

Just so their harried authors can finally pass muster before tenure committees.

Tenure committees are hardly in the business of increasing academic cum intellectual competition and so (in 2014 !) still demand costly hardcover books for tenure consideration.

They disdain the scholarly book world's equivalent of scholarly OPEN ACCESS journals.

That would see university presses routinely offering the worldwide digital distribution of free ebook versions of those hardcover monographs, so that poor scholars in poor nations can gain equal access to the independent knowledge expensively added by PhD candidates.

Perhaps if a few more - and bigger - university presses took this idea up , it might just embarrass religious bodies and authors to do the same.

I can dream , can't I ...

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