Amazon: The Big, Bad Wolf

We all know the story of the big bad wolf, whether from Little Red Riding Hood, or The Three Little Pigs. It is a trope in morality tales going back farther than all of our lifetimes. The big, bad wolf is a deceitful, predatory, sneaky, and viciously intelligent creature that eats grandma and blows the house down. In recent years, the big bad wolf for the publishing industry is Amazon.

Amazon, the reason bookstores are closing, the reason publishers go broke. Capitalism in the form of a big, bad wolf, slowly destroying publishers big and small (huffing and puffing) and putting bookstores everywhere out of business (eating Red Riding Hood’s grandma for breakfast). It is an apt metaphor, and I would argue that publishers, or perhaps better to say the publishing industry, are those three little pigs, still living in straw houses, who need to find some bricks and build houses that that big, bad wolf cannot huff, and puff and blow down.

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The Future of Scholarly Monographs in a Rapidly-Changing Publishing Landscape


Over the past few decades, the world of publishing has witnessed many remarkable revolutions, transforming the face of the entire book industry today. The widespread developments include not only changes in the nature of the production, packaging and distribution of text, but also new policies and tools promoting free, instant access to knowledge and information.These developments present both opportunities and challenges for certain book genres and their producers, especially those within the scholarly community. One branch of scholarly publishing whose future seems to have been rendered uncertain in the midst of these shifts is the monograph, with a number of scholars and market analysts (Steele, 2008; Anderson, 2013; Kwan, 2013; Todd, 2014) predicting a bleak future for the monograph, owing to the rise and growth of other forms of scholarship (such as journals) and digital publishing technologies (such as e-book publishing, open access), amid changes in reading culture as well as soaring production cost of monographs.

But do these emergent trends really spell doom for monographs as many predict? If yes, why and how? If no, how are players in the field currently adjusting to these shifts, and what hurdles and possibilities exist for saving and enhancing the future of the monograph in the new publishing landscape? These are some of the pertinent questions I will be addressing in this paper, which seeks to analyse the impact and implications of emerging paradigms in publishing and communication for the monograph.    Continue reading “The Future of Scholarly Monographs in a Rapidly-Changing Publishing Landscape”