News: Academic Publishing Weekly profits remain strong, universities take on predatory journals, and the ebook pricing conspiracy suit continues

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice
Academic Publishing Weekly: the latest curated news from around the industry. Purple background, white lettering.’s Success Continues, the online book retailer—marketed as an alternative to Amazon and a champion for independent booksellers—is expected “to surpass $15 million returned to independent bookstores since the company began in 2019.” Sales have hit close to $30 million this year, up 17 percent compared to the first half of 2020. Moving forward, CEO of Andy Hunter hopes to encourage a “social awakening among consumers” by moving their spending habits away from Amazon. Trade booksellers aren’t the only ones jumping on the train—the Association of University Presses recently released a curated booklist on the site featuring picks by its member presses. [Publishers Weekly]

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Peer Reviewer?

Jasmine Wallace, Peer Review Manager at the American Society for Microbiology, unveils her list of top qualities in a peer reviewer. Main attributes include general organization and attention to detail, like reading the reviewer guidelines, making note of deadlines, and not over-burdening yourself. Wallace also shares tips like helpful platforms to keep track of your reviews and why to keep the larger academic community in mind as you take on a review assignment. Do journals offer best practices to new reviewers? Might be worth it to send this their way… [Scholarly Kitchen]

They change their names. They keep traveling along. What I would say as the indicia is, ‘If anyone asks you to pay for publishing in their journal, get out now!’

Katy Barnett

The Plight Against Predatory Journals

Predatory journals prey on anyone in the academic community, but younger, naïve scholars might be more at risk. In Australia, universities have rolled out new rules intended to stave off predatory attacks on vulnerable doctoral students. These policies include “restricting thesis-related papers to specified journals” that fall within a certain standing in the SCImago Journal Rank. While many applaud the action, others fear this could limit student opportunities or unintentionally restrict harmless, up-and-coming journals. Maybe the solution is to teach students how to become more elusive prey? [Inside Higher Ed]

The Open Research Debate: Researcher vs. Publishers

The heart of the open research debate ultimately boils down to one question: For whom does research serve? Silke Machold, a professor and Dean of Research at the University of Wolverhampton, argues that scholarly work should be in service to the academic community and broader society—not shareholders of major publishers. Machold hashes out the dispute over publishers receiving revenue from publicly-funded research, and discloses Wolverhampton’s ongoing transition into read and publish agreements. Machold shares hopes for a future transformative deal that “introduces a much greater emphasis on responsible research and corporate responsibility by publishers.” [Research Information]

Update on Ebook Pricing Conspiracy Suit

Big Five publishers logos

In the beginning of this year, law firm Hagens Berman filed a suit against Amazon and the Big Five publishers “alleging a conspiracy to fix e-book prices.” This week, the defendants shared their intent to “file a motion seeking to stay all discovery in a lawsuit charging them with conspiring to fix e-book prices until the court rules on their motion to dismiss the case.” As the case with most lawsuits, it’s a classic he-said, she-said situation; defendants argue that conspiring with Amazon is implausible, while the plaintiff cites a previous case of Big Five price-fixing with Apple as cause for valid inquiry. Is there a conspiracy afoot? And if so, can there be any actual repercussions against a global behemoth like Amazon? [Publishers Weekly]