Kathleen Fitzpatrick: Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy
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“Change is coming to scholarly publishing, one way or another,” writes Kathleen Fitzpatrick in the conclusion to Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, “but what form that change will take, and whether it will work for or against us, remains to be seen.” The publishing industry has known this for quite a long time, of course, but Fitzpatrick’s declaration is notable not as one more acknowledgement of impending technological and organizational transformation. It is, rather, what precisely she means by “us” that makes the quoted sentence such an important and radical one.
The “us” of this monograph, perhaps unsurprisingly, started as “me.” According to Fitzpatrick, the genesis of this research was an unnamed prestigious university press’s decision to reject of her first monograph. Although the solicited referee reports were unstintingly positive, the press cited financial exigency and declined to publish her. The newly tenured professor of media...