If you’ve been following the blog recently, I’ve decided to self-publish the Grad Skool Rulz as an e-book (click here to get a free sample). I wanted to briefly address self-publishing.
First, despite my calls for online access, I do believe in traditional publishing. My decision to self-publish the Grad Skool Rulz does not reflect a view that traditional publishers are useless. Publishers do important work that deserves to be rewarded. They sort through tons of garbage to find decent materials, they edit, they market, and they make nice packages. My beef with journal publishers, for example, has to do with the value. Professors edit and review materials for free. It is now possible to distribute the work at very low price, much lower than what publishers charge libraries. But that leaves a lot of other publishing that can be done by for profit firms.
Second, self-publishing the Rulz does not indicate a rejection of peer review. The Rulz are informal advice columns, not scientific research. As imperfect as it may be, peer review is valuable. You’ll rarely find feedback as useful in blind review. The Rulz are opinions and not really the sort of material that merits the judgment of experts. I’ll continue to submit my academic research to regular journals and presses.
Let me discuss the positive reasons for self-publication. The main one is access. I wrote the Rulz because I really feel that people are getting lost in academia. So I didn’t want the book to be hard to find, buried inside a publisher website or waiting for years while the publication process finishes. Also, I didn’t want price to be a barrier. With self-publishing, the price can be low. Few in the intended audience would be unable afford the book. I have always been suspicious of textbooks that cost hundreds of dollars. If you have Internet access and $2, you can get this book. Finally, e-publishing embodies the spirit of the new media. The e-book is flexible and direct. It’s easily updated and modified, it can be kept current.