Friday, December 20, 2013

Elsevier boycott: the cost of knowledge

Please join us in boycotting Elsevier at The Cost of Knowledge website. Thanks to Tyler Nelson for creating and updating the site.

Elsevier has bought two publishers of my works, including the publisher of my book (Chandos / Woodhead). I'm debating adding a clause to future publishing contracts that states no selling my work to Elsevier.

If anyone from Elsevier is reading this, please remove me from your Elsevier "Author Connect" list. I an not an Elsevier author, and I do not wish to connect.

Second update: ownership of a work by a publisher that I am on the record as boycotting is in fundamental conflict with my moral rights as an author. Chandos published a number of books on open access, and other authors may have the same perspective.

Update December 22: my original blogpost on joining the Cost of Knowledge boycott can be found here

One upside of this sale is that it provides an excellent example of how copyright ownership can be completely divorced from, and often counter to, creativity. My book Scholarly Communication for Librarians is the result of a great deal of hard work on my part and inspiration and comments from many others, who are listed in the acknowledgements. The contributions of Glyn Jones and the staff at Chandos were significant. Elsevier contributed absolutely nothing to the creative work involved with this book; this company simply holds the ownership to extract rent from sale of the book. This method of dissemination - no dissemination without paying a toll to this company - impedes the dissemination that is necessary to advance scholarly knowledge. Elsevier's ownership of the IP for this book is an impediment to updating it.

If instead of writing a book in this way I had created a wiki, I would have had a tool that anyone, anywhere could access, one that I could update easily. I would have had a textbook that I could have asked my students to read (I never required this for the published version as the price to me was outrageoues). No worries, dear reader - as you probably realize, a book a scholarly communication dated 2009 is substantially out of date. Next book I write will be much more like a wiki than a traditional book.