[OPE-L] Publishing and selling books on political economy

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed May 24 2006 - 09:04:47 EDT

The comments of Fred Lee in the latest _Heterodox Economics Newsletter_
(see below) are interesting:

1) Fred says that the U of M editor told him that "manuscripts that do not
have the potential to sell 750 copies in the first two years have a chance
of not being accepted ...."   Note that the editor only said that those
manuscripts would have a *chance* of not being accepted.  In any event,
this leads me to wonder: what is the scale that recent _scholarly_
(hardcover) books have been published at?   Does it tend for books on
Marxism and political economy to be above or below 750?

2) The cure to this problem which Lee suggests seems to me to be rather
naive in that it does not take into account the standard of living of
many, if not most, heterodox economists internationally. How many of us
can afford to purchase out of pocket all of the new titles by heterodox

3) Lee implies that there is a major link between heterodox economic
academic conferences and the sales of scholarly books.  I am doubtful:
the sales of those books often require a deep discount for conference
attendees to purchase.  Thus, volumes at the _end_ of a conference are
often sold at a 50% discount just so the publisher's representative
doesn't have to bear the cost of shipping back the books. Even at a 50%
discount, many of us find volumes to be unaffordable.

4) Having said the above, I  think that Lee does raise an important
issue: how can the market for books on Marxism and heterodox economics
be increased?

In solidarity, Jerry

Issue-28, May 22, 2006
From the Editor

Recently I was talking with my editor at the University of Michigan Press
and he told me the following: (1) manuscripts that do not have the
potential to sell 750 copies in the first two years have a chance of not
being accepted (unless there was a subsidy forthcoming to help with the
costs); and (2) book sellers are reluctant to send representatives (and
books) to conferences with less than 200 participants. What this implies
for the former is that heterodox economists need to buy heterodox books to
ensure that a market exists when they want their book published. As for
the latter, because many heterodox conferences have less than 200
participants, it is necessary to think of ways to increase attendance,
such as EAEPE developing an umbrella conference for all European heterodox
economists and heterodox economic associations or that heterodox economic
conferences team up with say history of thought conferences to generate
the needed number of participants. In the end, the size of the conferences
has to grow so that the books we write get displayed/advertised and

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed May 31 2006 - 00:00:03 EDT