What are we: chopped liver? It’s beginning to look like anyone can do what we do. Reeling from the body blow of indie authors cutting us out of the publishing picture, we now have to absorb the sly elbow to the head which is the news that libraries are also starting to publish for themselves. Library Journal brings us the amusing story. Getting the two horses to “sign” the book with their hoof prints is marketing genius. What’s next? Bookstores printing their own inventory? Agents providing editorial and production services?

Of course, I can’t have it both ways. I do keep preaching that the barriers to entry into the book publishing business have almost dissolved. This, and the above, just show that publishing as a business will probably be around for ever. It just won’t be the same companies doing it in exactly the same ways as they do now.

Phill Jones has gotten ahold of this story which he’s analyzing in a more serious way. Digital Science has a post of his on the subject dated 21 November. Now, a couple of weeks later, here’s another from The Scholarly Kitchen, providing a useful overview of the scene. He discloses (to those of us who didn’t know) that there’s even an organization called The Library Publishing Coalition which lists 124 members in its directory. They even have a job board if you are thinking of jumping ship.

Now of course the connection between the university press and the university library has always been there. Sometimes distant, sometimes collaborative, and sometimes structural — for example The University of Michigan Press reports up to the university via the library (and Mr Jones talks to their Director). Is there anything wrong with the edges being blurred a little? I’m not sure I can see any reason to keep librarians out of publishing, just as university presses should be allowed to open lending or subscription services for their books. It’s the communication of knowledge that both are there to serve, and Balkanizing the territory cannot help.

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