February 11, 2013
The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press
(Ironically, no college librarian's blog post disparaging an academic publisher has ever been read by a human being.) -- Quoting Hamilton Nolan's parenthetical comment in Publisher Sues College Librarian for Saying Publisher Sucks.
Nolan is referring to Dale Askey's "The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press" on The Bibliobrary. The post was published in 2010 and taken down in early 2012. It is the basis for a libel (including vicarious libel) lawsuit brought in a Canadian court by Edwin Mellen Press and can be found here. The publishing house is seeking from Askey and his university employers something in the vicinity of $4.5 million in damages according to some US-published accounts that might be based on exchange rate calculations. In $-CAN the damages amount stated in the court filing totals $3.5 million.
With the rise of eBook self-publishing, perhaps this is the order-of-magnitude amount of cash the Press needs to execute an exit strategy. Alternatively and based on what may be why academic authors eventually end up seeking the Edwin Mellen Press imprint for their works, perhaps this is the amount of cash the Press needs to gear up in a big way to bring to market its current and/or future catalog offerings in eBook formats which otherwise might not see the light of day "published by Edwin Mellen Press".
Edwin Mellen Press publishes titles in philosophy and other disciplines. Having read a bit of philosophy in my day (BA with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Theology plus one year's work towards an MA in Philosophy -- until I decided to change my career track from driving a taxi to something else) and continuing to do so, like Mark Giangrande wrote in his post, I also had no idea what sort of titles Edwin Mellen Press brought to market. Interested, I delved into my 40-plus years of collected works on philosophy last weekend. Nope, didn't find a single Edwin Mellen Press title. Then I took a look at the publisher's sales catalog for philosophy titles. Yup, I saw nothing I would want to add to my private collection.
"I'm no lawyer, but can't judges immediately dismiss libel lawsuits that are clearly about topics that no one in their right mind would care to read about?" wrote Gawker's Hamilton Nolan. Catching the drift of what he thinks about this lawsuit?
And can't those judges also order the clown-like academic publisher that filed said lawsuit to be locked in a room for a period of one hundred days with nothing to read except The Middle Eastern Influence on Late Medieval Dances: Origins of the 29987 Istampittas?
This isn't the first time this publishing house filed a lawsuit based on the same sort of published statements made by Askey. Note well, Edwin Mellen Press lost its earlier lawsuit. [JH]