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

College Art Association statement re: Ashgate Publishing

The following message was sent out to listservs earlier today from CAA President DeWitt Godfrey:

CAA acknowledges the concern of many of its members regarding the acquisition of Ashgate by Informa, the parent company of Taylor & Francis. The Ashgate art and humanities publications series have been a critically important venue for art history and critical scholarship because of their high quality production. Ashgate’s art and humanities series have also increased in value as the opportunities for scholarly monograph publishing diminishes. CAA has conveyed the concerns to Taylor & Francis that the high quality of the editorial process at Ashgate be maintained by Taylor & Francis and the art and humanities series continue to publish as fully as in the past.

The statement has now been posted on the College Art Association's website

Letter from Susanna A. Throop, Associate Professor of History Coordinator of the Teaching & Learning Institute, Ursinus College

Sunday, November 29, 2015

statement in support of continuing Ashgate Publishing from Dr. Linda L. Carroll Professor of Italian at Tulane Univresity

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

November 29, 2015

Dear Messrs. Horton, Carter, Mapp, and Menzies-Gow,

I write as a scholar who has had a number of extremely positive and valuable professional relationships with Ashgate as author, co-editor, reviewer, and reader. Because of the great importance of Ashgate volumes to my field (Renaissance--or, as some prefer, early modern--Europe), I have signed the petition urging that Ashgate be maintained as a distinct publishing entity. I now write to you to respectfully provide more detailed information in support of that request.

As a preliminary to more in-depth considerations, I note the over 6,000 signatures on the petition, accompanied by uniformly glowing comments. The petition was circulated widely not only by individuals but by learned societies and numerous professional listservs. Those signing are scholars, librarians, and students who read, purchase, and cite Ashgate volumes, demonstrating Ashgate’s importance to the publishing enterprise as well as to the intellectual enterprise in which it is engaged. Many signatories have recommended that Ashgate be continued precisely because the respect that it enjoys ensures strong and continued sales. It is a wiser financial decision to continue it than to close it.

There are many reasons for the passionate outpouring on Ashgate’s behalf. Under the expert guidance of Erika Gaffney, Ashgate has developed one of the premier lists in early modern studies, one that is distinguished by a hard-to-find union of quality of scholarship, cutting-edge originality and interdisciplinarity, and quality of physical product (illustrations, copy-editing, etc.). In addition, authors and editors have universally had an extremely edifying professional relationship with Erika Gaffney, who unfailingly conducts her duties at the highest professional level and with courtesy and kindness to all, as do the other editors and staff members of the Vermont office. As a co-editor of Sexualities, Textualities, Art and Music in Early Modern Italy. Playing with Boundaries (2014) and as author of Commerce, Peace and the Arts in Renaissance Venice. Ruzante and the Empire at Center Stage (in press), as well as a reader and reviewer of numerous Ashgate volumes, I developed great respect for Erika Gaffney’s ability to discern scholarship that is at the same time original, innovative, and well-researched. This is a refreshing and valuable change from the bifurcation often seen between the trendy or appealing on the one side and the hide-bound on the other.

In particular, Ashgate has provided an important venue for younger scholars and for those engaged in emerging or consolidating fields, especially so as university press series have been curtailed or closed. It has made vital contributions to art history and musicology, it has been a leader in the creation of now important and respected fields such as women’s studies, it has been a beacon in smaller fields such as Byzantine studies, it has been a perceptively courageous publisher of essay collections. Finally, on a human level I note that the monograph is the standard for tenure in many fields of the humanities and Ashgate a highly respected venue. The closing of Ashgate will be harmful in this aspect of their professional lives to young and innovative scholars, precisely the ones who will be developing the future of many research fields.

Given the closing of the Burlington office despite the July statement by Informa that Ashgate’s “experienced team and strong brands will be highly complementary to our other major HSS [humanities and social sciences] brand, Routledge, the world's largest English language publisher of academic content in HSS disciplines,” we are left to wonder what future truly awaits Ashgate under the present arrangement. One hears that the United Kingdom office could also soon be closed. What commitment has Informa made to the future of Ashgate and to its fundamental and vital role in scholarship and the academic community?

In conclusion, I join thousands of colleagues and readers in warmly encouraging you to reverse the decision to close Ashgate’s Vermont office and to maintain Ashgate as a publisher, primarily for the intellectual reasons that matter most to us but also for its business wisdom. To put it in old-fashioned agricultural terms, closing Ashgate is eating one’s seed corn, leaving none to provide a future crop either for researchers or for publishers.


Linda L. Carroll
Professor, Italian

cc. Prof. Rabia Gregory

Save Ashgate Publishing - the blog

The petition to Save Ashgate Publishing 
has attracted over 6000 signatures in a single week. Unfortunately, Ashgate's North American office in Burlington, Vermont, closed on November 25th.

This blog has been created to host letters of support for Ashgate and share news coverage of the press.

You may also follow Save Ashgate on Facebook.

On November 23rd, 2015, Inside Higher Ed published Concerns Over Ashgate Publishing's Future
 and asked Is Ashgate Publishing about to close?

On November 24th, Kathleen E. Kennedy argued for the importance of Asghate as a test case for  academic labor and publishing

On November 25th, the Burlington office closed and the US staff posed for this photo:

Those interested in writing a letter to protest the closure of Ashgate's North American office and/or to voice concern for the future of the press may find more information here

Public letters will be posted to this blog as they come in.

Thanks for supporting the wonderful editorial staff at Ashgate! Please be patient as I learn how to operate a blog-Rabia