Three really interesting looking books from Routledge – but three completely obscene prices

Three really interesting looking books from Routledge – but three completely obscene prices.

MorinKaren Morin, Carceral Space, Prisoners and Animals – £105 or £76.50 e-book

Carceral Space, Prisoners and Animals explores resonances across human and nonhuman carceral geographies. The work proposes an analysis of the carceral from a broader vantage point than has yet been done, developing a ‘trans-species carceral geography’ that includes spaces of nonhuman captivity, confinement, and enclosure alongside that of the human. The linkages across prisoner and animal carcerality that are placed into conversation draw from a number of institutional domains, based on their form, operation, and effect. These include: the prison death row/ execution chamber and the animal slaughterhouse; sites of laboratory testing of pharmaceutical and other products on incarcerated humans and captive animals; sites of exploited prisoner and animal labor; and the prison solitary confinement cell and the zoo cage. The relationships to which I draw attention across these sites are at once structural, operational, technological, legal, and experiential / embodied. The forms of violence that span species boundaries at these sites are all a part of ordinary, everyday, industrialized violence in the United States and elsewhere, and thus this ‘carceral comparison’ amongst them is appropriate and timely.

WelfordMark Welford, Geographies of Plague Pandemics – £105 or £35.99 e-book

Geographies of Plague Pandemics synthesizes our current understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of plague, Yersinia pestis. The environmental, political, economic, and social impacts of the plague from Ancient Greece to the modern day are examined. Chapters explore the identity of plague DNA, its human mortality, and the source of ancient and modern plagues. This book also discusses the role plague has played in shifting power from Mediterranean Europe to north-western Europe during the 500 years that plague has raged across the continent. The book demonstrates how recent colonial structures influenced the spread and mortality of plague while changing colonial histories. In addition, this book provides critical insight into how plague has shaped modern medicine, public health, and disease monitoring, and what role, if any, it might play as a terror weapon.

ShawRobert Shaw, The Nocturnal City – £105 (no e-book listed)

Night is a foundational element of human and animal life on earth, but its interaction with the social world has undergone significant transformations during the era of globalization. As the economic activity of the ‘daytime’ city has advanced into the night, other uses of the night as a time for play, for sleep or for escaping oppression have come increasingly under threat.

This book looks at the relationship between night and society in contemporary cities. It identifies that while theories of ‘planetary urbanization’ have traced the spatial spread of urban forms, the temporal expansion of urban capitalism has been less well mapped. It argues that, as a key part of planetary being, understanding what goes on at night in cities can add nuance to debates on planetary urbanization.

A series of practices and spaces that we encounter in the night-time city are explored. These include: the maintenance and repair of infrastructure; the aesthetics of the urban night; nightlife and the night-time economy; the home at night; and the ecologies of the urban night. Taking these forward the book will ask whether the night can reveal some of the boundaries to what we call ‘the urban’ in a world of cities, and will call for a revitalized and enhanced ‘nightology’ to study these limits.

Now I don’t want to just single out Routledge, since there are other offenders, but these prices are just ridiculous. The books are short too – 176, 156 and 126 pages. What a terrible shame for these authors to have worked so hard on these books, each of which deserves a much wider audience than these prices will allow.

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7 Responses to Three really interesting looking books from Routledge – but three completely obscene prices

  1. dmf says:

    and at a time when academics need public support more and more, hard for us to value what we can’t access, thanks for highlighting this continuing self-defeating downward spiral.
    #CreativeCommons

    • stuartelden says:

      Thanks. From a reply I posted on Facebook –

      There is something of a circular argument here from marketing – these books won’t sell many copies, so they need to charge a lot per copy to recoup costs, and then at that cost, they won’t sell many copies. I imagine they think that if 150-200 libraries buy at that price they will recoup costs and make a profit, and they are not concerned about sales beyond that. Some costs are there whether e-book, print-on-demand or warehoused copies, including review and editorial work, copyediting, design etc. Given what we know about the cost models of these kinds of trade presses, what I wonder is why people continue to publish with them. There are alternatives. To be absolutely clear on one point, one of my books is now published by Routledge, but only because they bought the smaller publisher that originally published it. With that book, the other editor and I fought to ensure a paperback was immediately available, and said we would go elsewhere if it wasn’t agreed. That’s a model I’ve followed for the last 13 years, since I got burned on a book which didn’t appear in paperback. Authors and editors do need to take some action against these kinds of publishing models. Most academic authors make little money from royalties, so they publish presumably because they have something to say and want to be read. So, again, why do they go with this kind of model?

      • dmf says:

        “why do they go with this kind of model?” indeed especially when they are from so called critical perspectives/schools-of-thought. I can’t tell you how many spines of books I have cracked at academic libraries the readerships must be dismal, perhaps there are institutional rewards or punishments that might stop the madness, or maybe just peer pressure? thanks again for your leadership in these matters, d.

      • WhatisRobShaw says:

        Thanks for highlighting my book here Stuart.

        A personal response to the “So, again, why do they go with this kind of model?” would be to locate within the wider precarity/insecurity of academia. When I signed my contract I was a teaching fellow in a fixed term post; I didn’t feel that I was in a position to do much negotiating. And, to have some sympathy with Routledge, they were dealing with someone with a smattering of articles published but nothing like a book, so there’s a level of risk in that too.

        I’d like to think that I’d negotiate with more confidence with future publishers, or would seek out independent publishers more carefully. But with a glut of early career or insecurely employed academics out there, there will remain I presume plenty of people willing to sign up on these terms.

      • stuartelden says:

        thanks for this Rob. Yes, I appreciate that there are difficulties with first books, and for people early career. That said, there are alternatives to this kind of publishing model, and I think more senior people should take a more active role in working with colleagues to open up these kind of options. I see it as part of my work in mentoring or doing annual reviews – that’s the more formal side. Of course, this can be done informally too, but often then it requires people to ask their colleagues for advice. Hopefully your book will be out in paperback soon.

  2. It is just as bad as journals where in some cases you can pay $30 to access one article, but I agree.

    • stuartelden says:

      Yes indeed. But I never pay for such access – who does? I know I have institutional access to a lot, and then interlibrary loan can help. Then there is researchgate, academia.edu etc. If I can’t find it through those routes then I usually email the author. I imagine that the charges per article are largely paid by commercial/government researchers. I would have thought any author would willing share the pdf of their articles, but few would share an e-copy of a book.

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