Letter to Brepols: OA or Author Civil Disobedience

Again, I am sharing below publicly my correspondence with a prestigious European academic publisher, with whom my revised and exceptionally well-reviewed doctoral dissertation was published (CORRECTION: distributed).

In my experience, these kinds of delays and non-responses to Open Access self-archiving requests are normal academic publisher behavior. This deliberate obstruction of authors having digital access to our own works and prevention of public access to our works, even when those works are out of print and unavailable digitally is UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR and it NEEDS TO STOP.

Incidentally, I was made to do 90% of the editing of the published volume, including much of the copy-editing. I also had to procure copies for myself in order to send them out to reviewers. In my experience with this book, the publisher outsourced as much of the labor as possible to me and paid me no royalties for the book. The book has also been sold out for over a year now, and yet, despite repeated requests, no plans for a re-print are being made.

This is UNETHICAL CORPORATE BEHAVIOR and it NEEDS TO STOP NOW.

Not only that, it is also directly against the publisher’s self-interest, when they could be proactive and drive web traffic by hosting the book on their website. I will plan to let the public know how Brepols responds.


Dear Brepols Representatives,

I hope you are staying well and healthy. Sadly, after two previous requests and several months of waiting, this is now my third request for a digital version of the book I wrote for your series Cahiers de Biblia Patristica. The book is out of print and I have not been informed of any plans for a reprint or digital distribution. Please either provide open access to the book on your website (I would be pleased to drive web traffic that will be valuable to your company), or send me a digital copy and grant me a self-archiving open access license to deposit it on Zenodo. Thank you very much. If I do not receive a response within 48 hours, I will proceed with self-digitizing and self-archiving the book in deliberate violation of copyright as an act of scholarly civil disobedience.

Best wishes,

Mark


July 10, 2020 9:42 AM PST: Updated and Corrected:

An email from a Brepols representative clarifies that Brepols is NOT the publisher of the book, only the distributor. The publisher is the University of Strasbourg. They also clarify that the book is simply OUT OF STOCK, not OUT OF PRINT.

Brepols has apparently decided to lay the blame on the University of Strasbourg for the lack of any response to my requests to make my book open access or ensure that it was in print. And to play with words to escape blame for my book being completely unavailable to the public for purchase for a full year.

Throwing a whole University under the bus, and blaming the victim for the lack of a book’s distribution, after we did pretty much all your work for you. Way to scapegoat, Brepols!

If Brepols wishes to suggest further, specific alterations to this post, please send specific edits. I spent 200 hours of my life doing that work on my dissertation so that you could publish it, make all of the revenues on it, and then let it languish in the print market.


Update July 18, 2020

Yesterday I received an email from a representative of U Strasbourg finally granting me Open Access rights to my book. Hooray!

Thank you, Brepols and U Strasbourg, for being responsive to this request. Please forgive me if my public protestations caused offense. I hope you can appreciate my frustrations of having my book essentially unavailable to the public for the last year, especially after it sold so well. I am proud to have worked and published with your organizations and hope that this difficult situation will not preclude meaningful, mutually beneficial collaborations on other projects (such as a formal working partnership between the eClavis and Clavius Clavium as the definitive online resources for studying the Christian Apocrypha).

I look forward to sharing a self-archived digital copy of the book with the global public once I receive it.