Last June Dan posted a link to Stanley Katz's speculations on the future of academic publishing. “I have no doubt," Katz wrote at that time, "that we are rapidly moving into an environment of tiny initial print runs (if there is any print run at all) followed by print-on-demand, combined with some form of electronic delivery.” In a recent "Brainstorm" post for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Katz returns to the question of whether university presses will "survive in the digital age."
Katz begins by reiterating two reasons to believe that the typical university press would be "an irresistible target for the bean counters in campus financial planning offices": "the apparent decline of traditional academic print publishing" and "the pressure on universities to restructure their budgets in order to cope with dramatically decreased budgets." In fact, he finds, most universities have not abandoned their presses.
But that does not mean that the industry hasn't fundamentally changed. To get a sense of what has happened and what the future holds, Katz suggests that we consider the successes of some of the larger presses (e.g., Princeton) alongside the closure and possible restructuring of presses like Southern Methodist University.
You can read the rest of the post here.