'Filosofía pirata, edición libre', discussion with Perro Tuerto y Pucho (El Rancho Electrónico) y Gabriela Méndez Cota (Universidad Iberoamericana) for the Mexico city radio station Ibero, September 12, 2019.

Open Humanities Press – The Inhumanist Manifesto

Pirate Philosophy, This Is Not A Pipe Podcast

HyperCritical Theory

Übercapitalism and What Can Be Done About It

Recent publications

Masked Media (limited edition paper-only publication for The House That Heals The Soul exhibition, Tetley, Leeds, 2018) 

 The Inhumanist Manifesto: Extended Play (Techne Lab, 2017)

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repositories PURE here, and CURVE here 

Radical Open Access

« #MySubjectivation II: The philosophical impossibility of unliking media technologies in the mind of someone living | Main | #MySubjectivation: I »

Losing their buzz: are Routledge and Sage the next Starbucks?

A two-day conference to look at how implementing the Finch Review on Open Access Publishing will affect researchers and learned societies in the arts, humanities and social sciences, has been announced by the Academy of Social Sciences. Co-chaired by Dame Janet Finch, the conference will be held on 29th and 30th November, 2012. 

For more details, see:

Given this event is being sponsored by the Times Higher Education magazine and the publishers Routledge, SAGE, and Wiley Blackwell, and includes a panel discussion on the future of journals with senior managers at Routledge, SAGE and Wiley Blackwell, those interested in attending might want to read:

David Harvie, Geoff Lightfoot, Simon Lilley and Kenneth Weir, ‘What Are We To Do With Feral Publishers?’, submitted for publication in Organization, and accessible through the Leicester Research Archive;

Simon Lilley, ‘How Publishers Feather Their Nests on Open Access to Public Money’, Times Higher Education, 1 November, 2012.

Harvie et al call for what is effectively a boycott of Routledge if their parent company, Informa plc, does not bring down its journal subscription charges and pay the UK Exchequer the approximately £13 million lost to the treasury as a result of its 2009 decision to become a Jersey company domiciled in Zug, the canton with the lowest rate of taxation in Switzerland.  

It seems Informa can be placed alongside Amazon, Apple, Facebook, eBay, Google and, most famously, Starbucks, on the list of companies who's reputation has been hit as a result of their being charged with aggressively avoiding paying the standard rate of 26% corporation tax in the UK. According to analysis by The Guardian newspaper, for instance, ‘four US companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google and Starbucks – have paid just £30m tax on sales of £3.1bn over the last four years’. To put this in context, collecting the taxes that have been (legally) avoided in this fashion would do a lot to reduce the amount of UK debt for which the standards of living of the working and middle-classes in Britain - not to mention funding for universities - are being forfeited. ‘The total tax gap between what's owed and collected has been estimated by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK at £120bn a year: £25bn in legal tax avoidance, £70bn in fraudulent tax evasion and £25bn in late payments’.

With over ‘half of Informa’s total annual operating profit… derived from academic publishing:  £85.8 million’ in 2010, and its journals alone providing ‘gross profit margins of over 70 per cent’, according to Harvie et al, such a boycott would have implications for some of the most respected titles in the cultural studies, critical theory and radical philosophy fields. They include:

Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities;
Cultural Studies;
Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies;
Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies;
Culture, Theory, and Critique;
Feminist Media Studies;
Rethinking Marxism;
Women: A Cultural Review.

Nor do independent publishers escape their attention. Harvie et al also call on editors, writers and readers to abandon Organization, the journal to which they have submitted their paper, and start up an identical yet  more affordable alternative, if its publisher, SAGE  - which has an operating profit margin of a little below 19 per cent and ‘gross profit across both books and journals of over 60 per cent’ - does not lower its prices to those of a comparable society title ‘such as the £123 charged for the AMJ or the £182 for ASQ’.  Here again, the adoption of a similar withdrawal of labour by editors, writers and readers of cultural studies, critical theory and radical philosophy would have consequences for some of the most highly respected titles in these fields, including Theory, Culture and Society, to provide just one example, for which an institutional print only subscription is currently £906.00.    

Reader Comments (2)

The title of this piece suggests that SAGE have dodged tax obligations. Is this what you intended to imply?

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Mainwaring

Thanks for your comment. It's very helpful. No, my title is not meant to imply SAGE avoid paying taxes - as is clearly evident from the content of the post (I've tweaked it to avoid any confusion on this point). The post is rather raising the question whether, in the context of the Finch Review and responses to it, certain presses – not just those that are part of mega-publishers such as Informa plc, but also some independent publishers, too - are not in danger of loosing a lot their good will and standing with academics and researchers. It's asking, is the article by Harvie et al and Lilley's follow-up in the THE evidence of something of this kind beginning to take shape - in a manner similar to what has reportedly already happened to other brands (e.g. Google, Facebook, Starbucks)?

In a way, it might be more surprising if it were not. After all, according to Lilley, he and his colleagues came across ‘companies enjoying profit margins as high as 53 per cent on academic publishing. That compares with 6.9 per cent for electricity utilities, 5.2 per cent for food suppliers and 2.5 per cent for newspapers’. All of which places the recommendation of the Finch Review that even more public funds be transferred to academic publishers in the form of a version of gold, author-pays open access, in rather sharp relief.

November 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterGary Hall

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