I’ve finally written a draft of the book proposal to publish the phd as a living, breathing, entity. Its been about 3 years since I submitted the phd and I’m not sure if I’m early or late. Are there people who actually immediately start getting cracking on their proposals after they’ve submitted? I can’t even imagine. I assumed that I would have developed 2 or 3 chapters into articles. But once I decided against the academic track, it seemed like a fruitless attempt at status recognition. The constant pursuit of external validation: the curse of every Ivy Leaguer.
Which brings me to the second point of pursuing status. In academia, its common to try to have one’s monograph published by a press that is as prestigious as possible. And, surprise surprise, the prestigious academic presses are exactly the same as their university counterparts. One extremely famous sociologist who read my PhD suggested that I send the manuscript to two high end academic presses, but at this point, I’m planning to be a bit more low key about the whole process.
I just think that in this digital age, the whole prestige economy around presses and journals will eventually collapse. The entire model is based on the logic of printing rather than digital distribution. Specifically, before the internet, one sent one’s articles to a particular journal, which then arranged for the peer review, printed the article, and mailed the actual journals to its subscribers. Academics subscribed to journals in order to keep up to date with research.
This contrasts sharply with the digitized way of operating, in which one no longer relies on journals to keep up to date, but has the entire blogosphere at one’s fingertips. You don’t need a press to publish you, just a free blogging site to post your texts. Yay to the democratization of publishing!
Since the journal/publishing industry no longer needs to exist functionally, why does it continue to dominate academic life? Are the metrics provided by publishing in a journal so incredibly necessary that the uselessness of this model will prevail?