The regime running ASALH, like most anti-democratic and authoritarian bodies, is operating on the big lie principle. In this case, the lie has been that the proposed contract with the University of Chicago Press would bring ASALH $100,000 in profit each year. Hardly anyone on the board has seen the proposal, but they keep voting to move forward. And at the Business Meeting of the 101st Annual Meeting, we were told that there would be $100,000 in profits–as well as hardcopy journals for all the members of ASALH. We would have $100,000 a year to spend on all the things we need, we were told. They even had a keen businessman sold with that presentation. Oh, how the big lie works!
Knowing this business the way I do I have doubted this all along. I brought $55,000 to the meeting to give to ASALH to open a real conversation about the proposal and to expose the Big Lie. We currently make about $100,000 a year on the journal, but we have expenses charged against it. Well, VP Franklin has provided the first evidence that the Chicago $100,000 has expenses that must be charged against it too. In an email sent out yesterday, he writes:
“In light of the proposals submitted to publish the JAAH, there was no need to continue to ‘self-publish’ since the university press would cover publication expenses and guarantee an annual income to ASALH to cover all of the editorial expenses in producing the JAAH.”
Well there it is. The $100,000 is for the expenses of the editorial office. VP says bounty is to pay him and those who aid in the production of the journal. This is in keeping with what I know. The University of Chicago is not writing a check to ASALH’s editor and workers. It rarely works that way. The cost of the editorial office is roughly $45,000. So now we are down to $55,000.
We are not finished with expenses that are not related to “production.” The slice of the proposal presented in Richmond said Chicago would provide 500 copies for members. Right now, we promise roughly a 1000 members of 2000 hard copies. If the big lie is upheld, the number printed beyond what now exists will be an extra 1000, 1,500 that needs to be paid for out of that “profit” of $100, 000. That is an extra $30,000 @ $20 per member. So the balance of the “profits” is $25,000. That is $5,000 less than what we make now as we give 1000 members copies. Yes, if promises are kept the journal will make less money. And who knows whether there are not charges for the 500 copies listed and hidden costs always associated with moving your journal.
But let us circle back to production and discover the charges that will be revisited. Printing 2000 copies, Chicago is not going to allow any-old page count per issue. An extra 100 pages a year can cost many thousands. In digital it is often overlooked save for copyediting and printing costs. In print, paper, ink, and postage come into play. And let us not forget that Chicago has not been introduced to the editor’s unique request to never edit in typescript, which means the publisher or someone will absorb no less than $10,000 in additional layout and design fees. For the money let’s put aside that the editor insists that the printed journal is actually the uncorrected proof, leading to post-production changes and costs!!! Now, Chicago won’t have this, period. They understand that journals are born digital and printed after the fact. Yet this means that multiple rounds of changes will be requested. This too will come out of the $100,000 of “profit.” No publisher will allow this as we have to accommodate our editor!
So with all of these unforced errors and failure to disclose honestly, this would not be a profitable relationship with Chicago. And Chicago as I have shown on a previous post is not going to succeeded at this mis-adventure. This is all folly.
If you are on ASALH’s board and you have not seen the key documents, you should rail against the regime and demand access to those documents. It is your responsibility as a board member.
If you are an ASALH member, you were disenfranchised in Richmond. I put a motion on the floor of the Business Meeting, and it was properly seconded, to cease and desist these efforts to end self-publishing unless the permission was given to start again by the membership in a future business meeting. Seeing where things were going, the regime violated Robert’s Rule of Order, denied the membership in session had the authority, and threw the motion out because they were not having it. We were told they make decisions for us as long as they are in office. The organization is in shock, but I ain’t. I be woke.
This Chicago misadventure will come to an end along with the anti-democratic tendencies of this regime. You cannot succeed by rigging elections, using strong-arm tactics to silence the dissent of the immediate past president, disenfranchising the membership, and putting out the big lie.