Petition update

Petition updates and Writing letters of Protest

Rabia Gregory
Columbia, MO

Nov 29, 2015 — Dear colleagues:
Thank you all for this strong show of support on behalf of the talented editors at Ashgate! Already 6722 of you have signed. Your statements of support over the last week has been absolutely amazing! I know that your messages have been read with great interest by those at Ashgate and others in the publishing world.
Unfortunately, this petition was created far too late to prevent the closure of Ashgate’s North American office in Burlington, Vermont on November 25th and the future of the UK office remains uncertain. Additionally, the price of most Ashgate books will increase to $149.95/ £95.00 on January 1st, 2016. As authors, reviewers, and purchasers of Ashgate books our labor creates both the content and the market Informa needs. Collectively we may perhaps be able to influence the plans currently being made for the future of Ashgate Publishing. But it is easy to ignore an online petition.
I ask that any of you who feel safe and secure doing so begin mailing letters directly to the managing team of Informa. I shall send a printed copy of this petition on to the directors of Informa no later than December 7th. I believe our letters will have more collective force if they are not pasted from a template, but here are a few recommended guidelines for those who want them:
* Address your letters to:
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

All at: headoffice@informa.com
Informa Group PLC
5 Howick Place
London
SW1P 1WG
UK

* Begin by stating your relationship with Ashgate (for instance, as a reviewer, book review editor, author, series editor, reader) and explain how you first encountered the press.
* Restate the message you left on the petition
* Give specific examples of what exactly has made Ashgate an important publisher in your subfield (for instance, quality of images, maintaining the rigors of peer review, support for interdisciplinarity)
* Ask pointed questions about the future of the press (for instance: quality of production, commitment to publishing edited volumes, publishing in fields like musicology, art history, author discounts, editorial staff) . State explicitly what elements of Ashgate must be maintained for you to consider continuing your professional relationship with the press under new ownership.
* Ask specifically about the North American office (how can they market books or secure new authors at major NA conferences without the US office?)
* For those of you who have a longer historical view, statements about how the editorial staff you know have helped build the press’s brand and international reputation would be helpful.
* If you are a librarian, involved in book sales/distribution, or have some influence over library purchasing budgets, explain clearly whether or not you could recommend the purchase of Ashgate books at this new higher price/from Informa. (most academic libraries now spend 80% of their budget on subscriptions to online journal bundles and databases, leaving very little left for book acquisitions)
* If your research is supported by public funding, address under what terms your grants or your employer would permit you to continue publishing with Ashgate.
* You may wish to point out that the late July announcement of Informa’s purchase of Ashgate stressed 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."—one might rightly wonder how complimentary this relationship will be when Informa has already closed the Burlington office and may soon close the UK office too.
If you are willing, please send me a copy of your letter (gregoryra@missouri.edu) and I will post it to the Save Ashgate Publishing Facebook page (facebook.com/SaveAshgatePublishing). If any series editors are seeking new presses, please send me the information once you’ve finalized the contract details and I will begin compiling a public list for this as well.
Several of you have emailed me to point out that Informa recently purchased Pickering & Chatto (https://www.routledge.com/posts/5009) and Maney Online (http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/explore/Maney-Publishing-Announcement.pdf) at about the same time that they purchased Ashgate. These purchases are part of a multi-year growth plan (http://informa.com/about-us/Group-Strategy/) that, if successful, will significantly limit the publishing venues available to scholars. If you have not yet contacted your professional organization to request that they issue a statement, please consider doing so. Finally, I hope that some of you may be willing to bring your professional clout and/or media experience to this campaign more publicly by writing Op-Eds or letters to newspapers or issuing or hosting public statements on your personal blogs. I began this petition because I could not stay silent but I truly hope that some of you will volunteer to help me keep this campaign going.
I’m not sure if this “update” feature will really email everyone who signed the petition so please forward this message to any relevant academic listservs

Thanks!
-Rabia