The Flood continues

Anybody else notice the explosion in edited collections over the past X number of years? I assume it has to something to do with the publishing market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if changes in academia, namely the recent incentivization of frequent publishing in English higher ed, as well as various EU government funding streams, have encouraged lots of European scholars to host conferences and publish the results. But what do I know.

And by way of segue (note, not Segway), how about some recent publications in an EMEMH vein? How about if I put them in no particular order and provide almost no additional commentary?

Tracy, James D. Balkan Wars: Habsburg Croatia, Ottoman Bosnia, and Venetian Dalmatia, 1499–1617. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016.

Davies, Brian L. The Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774: Catherine II and the Ottoman Empire. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
Brittan, Owen. “Subjective Experience and Military Masculinity at the Beginning of the Long Eighteenth Century, 1688-1714.” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 40, no. 2 (June 1, 2017): 273–90.
El Hage, Fadi. Vendôme : La gloire ou l’imposture. Paris: BELIN, 2016.
Close, Christopher W. “City-States, Princely States, and Warfare: Corporate Alliance and State Formation in the Holy Roman Empire (1540–1610).” European History Quarterly 47, no. 2 (April 1, 2017): 205–28.
Black, Jeremy. Plotting Power: Strategy in the Eighteenth Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.
Murdoch, Steve, Alexia Nora Lina Grosjean, and Siobhan Marie Talbott. “Drummer Major James Spens: Letters from a Common Soldier Abroad, 1617-1632.” Northern Studies 47 (December 2015): 76–101.
McCluskey, Phil. “ ‘Enemies of Their Patrie’: Savoyard Identity and the Dilemmas of War, 1690-1713.” In Performances of Peace: Utrecht 1713, 69–91. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Probably the most military-themed of the dozen chapters, based off a conference of the same name.
Berkovich, Ilya. Motivation in War: The Experience of Common Soldiers in Old-Regime Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
James, Alan. “Rethinking the Peace of Westphalia: Toward a Theory of Early-Modern Warfare.” In Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Jonathan Davies. Ashgate Publishing, 2013.
Woodcock, Matthew. “Tudor Soldier-Authors and the Art of Military Autobiography.” In Representing War and Violence, 1250-1600, edited by Joanna Bellis and Laura Slater. Boydell Press, 2016.
Several other chapters in the collection deal with medieval warfare also.
Steen, Jasper Van der. Memory Wars in the Low Countries, 1566-1700. Leiden; Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2015.
Fulton, Robert. “Crafting a Site of State Information Management: The French Case of the Dépôt de La Guerre.” French Historical Studies 40, no. 2 (April 1, 2017): 215–40.
Manning, Roger. War and Peace in the Western Political Imagination: From Classical Antiquity to the Age of Reason. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
Abel, Jonathan. Guibert: Father of Napoleon’s Grande Armée. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.
Van der Linden, David. “Memorializing the Wars of Religion in Early Seventeenth-Century French Picture Galleries.” Renaissance Quarterly 70, no. 1 (2017): 132–78.
Asbach, Olaf, and Peter Schröder, eds. The Ashgate Research Companion to the Thirty Years’ War. Farnham, Surrey, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2014.

Blakemore, Richard J., and Elaine Murphy. The British Civil Wars at Sea, 1638-1653. Boydell Press, 2017.

Linnarsson, Magnus. “Unfaithful and Expensive – but Absolutely Necessary: Perceptions of Mercenaries in Swedish War Policy, 1621–1636.” Revue d’Histoire nordique 18 (2015): 51–73.
Tolley, Stewart. “In Praise of General Stanhope: Reputation, Public Opinion and the Battle of Almenar, 1710-1733.” British Journal for Military History 3 (2017): 1–21.
Vo-Ha, Paul. Rendre les armes – Le sort des vaincus XVI-XVIIe siècles. Champ Vallon, 2017.
Forssberg, Anna Maria. “The Information State: War and Communication in Sweden during the 17th Century.” In (Re-)Contextualizing Literary and Cultural History, n.d.
Murphy, Neil. “Violence, Colonization and Henry VIII’s Conquest of France, 1544–1546.” Past & Present 233, no. 1 (November 1, 2016): 13–51.
Langley, Chris R. “Caring for Soldiers, Veterans and Families in Scotland, 1638–1651.” History 102, no. 349 (January 1, 2017): 5–23.
Ede-Borrett, Stephen. The Army of James II, 1685-1688: The Birth of the British Army. Helion and Company, 2017.
Sherer, Idan. Warriors for a Living: The Experience of the Spanish Infantry during the Italian Wars, 1494-1559. Brill Academic Publishers, 2017.
Houston, Amy. “The Faithful City Defended and Delivered: Cultural Narratives of Siege Warfare in France, 1553-1591.” Archiv Für Reformationsgeschichte/Archive for Reformation History 107, no. 1 (October 2016).
Paton, Kevin, and Martin Cook. “The 1560 Fortifications and Siege of Leith: Archaeological Evidence for a New Transcription of the Cartographic Evidence.” Post-Medieval Archaeology 50, no. 2 (May 3, 2016): 264–78.
And then we come to the editorial commentary.
Jacob, Frank, and Gilmar Visoni-Alonzo. The Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe: A Revision. London: Palgrave Pivot, 2016.
Sounds intriguing yes? I thought so too. So I bought it – $55 for hardcover isn’t too bad, I thought to myself. But what I failed to do, unfortunately, is to look closely at the page length. To save you the trouble, here’s a comparison of a few “randomly-chosen” books:
Pivot Photo.jpeg
Yep, I just spent $55 plus tax for a measly 101 pages (88 of actual text). The importance of an imprint.
For comparison, feel free to reread my earlier thoughts on EMEMH publishing, which seemed to be going in the opposite direction of costlier and deeper: here and here. It may just be me, but I’m not sure I like the direction of this Pivot.
We could apply the Ostwald Test: Historiography for Dummies, but I’m not sure what the pages-to-coverage ratio would be for a book that ranges from the Classical world to World War II, from Tenochtitlan to Mysore to Korea, and from Alexander the Great to Leopold III of Austria to Koxinga. All in 101 pages. Onnekink’s Reinterpreting the Dutch Forty Years War is a bit longer and more focused ($55 for 138 pages), but it’s the principle of the thing: I’d rather spend $100 for a 300-page book that delves into a subject I’m interested in.
Caveat emptor, man. Caveat emptor.
Addition: Forgot to mention that, on the Palgrave Pivot front, they are obviously trying to blur the distinction between book and article. Or maybe they’re just conceding that most people photocopy/scan individual chapters. Why might I think that? Hmm:
Onnekink Reinterpreting the Dutch Forty Years War 1672-1713 ch1 p1.png
It will be interesting to see if other publishers take up this model.
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4 responses to “The Flood continues”

  1. Robert Fulton says :

    Jamel:
    Thanks for the mention! And the warning.

  2. Erik Lund says :

    Always seventeenth century Dalmatia, never eighteenth. . . sigh.

    BTW, if you squint, you can make out the name of the author of the book on the bottom of that pile, and it reminds me of someone. . .

  3. Hugh Davie says :

    The publishing model keeps changing as the publishers respond to new technology and changes in academia. Back in 2000 I used to work for a medium sized publisher whose output was around 60 journals and 200 books a year. We got bought up by T&F because of the changes in library acquisition meant that everything had to go on-line and the cost of digitising the back catalogue was huge. At the time T&F were buying 7 publishers of our size a year and not taking on anymore staff, so their editors went from doing 30 books a year to 300, sales reps from 70 books a year to 700.
    Look at OUP very few full time editors, now they all work piecework.

    Print on demand has meant that books are no longer PRINTED and stored cheaply but are Photocopied and bound when the book is ordered with very little actual stock on the shelves. But this costs more per book.

    Had a look at the your Vauban book on Amazon a whopping £118. What was the published price.

    Often academic publishers will price their books highly simply so that they sell through libraries at a good profit margin, (library wholesales discount can be as low as 25% though regular buyers may get up to 35%) and let the reading public just suck onto the high price or borrow the book through the library.

    With around 3,000 academic libraries round the world in the English history genre, they will only ever sell 1-2,00 copies at best, so have to make the sums work on this small customer group.
    JK Rowling sells millions so her costs are much lower per book so can achieve a retail price of £20 hardback, £12 paperback.

    The new model of binding up journal articles or seminar papers into a book is a cheap way of getting academics in print through libraries but not really designed for people buying the books.

    Major academic publishers receive other income streams, like Yale UP so they can fund a bit of research themselves but commercial publishers like T&F are more limited in this respect.

    What was your take as an author?

    • jostwald says :

      Thanks for the detailed reply. I’ve only seen the book trade from the retail perspective – working in book stores, back when you had strips, where you stripped the cover off the mass market paperbacks and sent them back to the publisher, promising that you destroyed the rest of the book! (Yeah right.) But you do get a totally different perspective if you read an industry perspective like The Scholarly Kitchen: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org.

      As an author, my book, though outrageously priced, gets cited a bunch (more than I’d expected actually) and has won an award from the Society for Military History, so from an academic perspective (the only perspective I really care about, TBH), I don’t appear to have been harmed too much professionally by the price of the book. Admittedly, I’m at a teaching school and am a Full professor with only one book and a journal article and multiple book chapters, which might not work at a research institution. Of course, I never expected many people outside my subfield of EMEMHians to read my monograph in the first place, much less buy it – nor does the thought of giving book talks or being interviewed on it appeal to me. I just wanna be left alone to work on my other research. And maybe get praised in a book review or two…
      On the other hand, I see colleagues expand their works (e.g. stretch them beyond their period) just to get published with a semi-popular academic press, and I’ve decided I will refuse to do that. If some academic press wants me to take my 18C Big Book of Battles into the 19C-20C, they can forget it, even if they are very prestigious (I’ve seen plenty of crap published by top-ranked publishers). Not to mention, History has way too many mile-wide and inch-deep works as it is.

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