Monday, November 30, 2015

Letter from Anne Larsen, Ph.D. Lavern and Betty DePree Van Kley Professor and Chair of French, Hope College

November 30, 2015
Roger Horton – Chief Executive, Academic Publishing
Stephen Carter – Group Chief Executive
Derek Mapp – Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors
Richard Menzies-Gow – Director of Investor Relations, Corporate Communications & Brand
Informa Group PLC
5 Howick Place

Dear Sirs,
My relationship with Ashgate Publishing is that of author and co-editor. My book Anna Maria van Schurman ‘The Star of Utrecht’: The Educational Vision and Reception of a Savante (Women and Gender in the Early Modern World) is forthcoming in March 2016; I am the co-editor of Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters (2009), also in the series Women and Gender in the Early Modern World.” I have been a reviewer and a referee of Ashgate books. 

Ashgate is the leading publisher in the discipline of Early Modern Studies. Its series “Women and Gender in the Early Modern World” is highly respected and the formidable work of Erika Gaffney, editor extraordinaire, and her team. Books in this series, now past the one hundred mark, have opened up new venues for scholarly research, and are constantly cited in bibliographies on early modern women. Periodicals in early modern studies contain a majority of reviews of books published by Ashgate. My own most recent experience of publishing with Ashgate involves the excellent guidance of Erika Gaffney as well as the help of two members of Ashgate’s U.K team, Maria Anson and Tricia Craggs, who shepherded my book manuscript on Anna Maria van Schurman through the editorial process with care. 

Ashgate’s support for interdisciplinarity, its path breaking scholarship, excellent editorial production, quality of images, and outstanding peer review make it the envy of other publishers.

Furthermore, Ashgate’s publicizing of its books is outstanding. One of the most important reasons I chose to publish with Ashgate over other publishers, aside from its quality, is its marketing through its constant presence at conference sites. Erika Gaffney and her staff could always be counted on to publicize Ashgate books and find new talent. She cultivated connections throughout her years as Ashgate editor by meeting with new authors and series editors. The Ashgate book tables at conferences such as Renaissance Society of America and Sixteenth Century Studies and Conference were center field, drawing crowds of scholars; its numerous catalogs throughout the year kept us well apprized of the latest collections and monographs.
I am extremely disappointed to hear that the North American offices in Burlington, Vermont, which has been the main centre for Ashgate’s Literary Studies publishing, has been terminated on 25 November with little advance notice and transferred to its new owner in New York. I only heard of it from Erika Gaffney in a collective email dated 16 November. 

I am also fearful that the new price rate for books published by the new company, going up to $150 per book, will discouraged my library from purchasing them. My library, which has regularly purchased Ashgate books, will most likely state that the books have become too expensive for its budget (my institution is a small liberal arts college of 3,400 students).

Finally, I strongly believe that terminating Ashgate will severely limit the publishing venues open to humanities and arts scholars. Keeping Ashgate, on the other hand, as well as its excellent editorial teams and its highly respected humanities scholarly series, will prove a great benefit to its new owner.

Anne Larsen, Ph.D.
Lavern and Betty DePree Van Kley Professor of French
Chair of French
Martha Miller 222
Hope College, Holland, MI 49422-9000, USA
Office: 616-395-7561

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