[INDOLOGY] Brill acquires the Forsten Indology list

Jonathan Silk kauzeya at gmail.com
Wed May 15 07:20:28 UTC 2013

dear Friends,

I resisted getting into this, but sometimes a little knowledge does not
hurt. Egbert Forsten is getting older. He has run his publishing house by
himself, and finding himself no longer able to do so, he looked for a home
in which he was assured that his standards would be upheld. As far as I
know (and in fact I do know a bit about this) there is nothing sinister of
the matsyanyāya variety going on here. (And anyone who thinks that buying
up indological publishers will make them money is in for a rude awakening.)
As far as Brill's prices go, well, they are a business, but... have you
tried to buy a book from anyplace like the Bayerische Academy lately? They
have huge subventions, I imagine, but still manage to ask impressive
prices. And try to buy an academic book from Japan please. American and
British academic books are usually published by University presses or
societies, and thus heavily subvented, so the prices are kept down.
I confess that I am not entirely neutral here, as I am involved with
several projects with Brill, including a journal and an encyclopedia among
others. But the reality is that niche markets don't allow for economies of
There are, to be sure, serious questions about the economics of academic
publications, but it would help if these were carried out with more facts
and less wild speculation.

apologies for the (sort of) rant, jonathan

On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 7:04 AM, Bijlert, V.A. van <v.a.van.bijlert at vu.nl>wrote:

>  I think the bottom-line is making profits. All these publishers exist
> for the sole purpose of making money; they are businesses after all. Seeing
> how difficult it is to get something scholarly actually published (unless
> it be subjects that sell well and that are academically fashionable) it is
> no wonder that smaller publishers close down.
> Brill is an interesting case: its books are extremely expensive (although
> some of Routledge's publications also run into hundreds of dollars, pounds,
> euros) and yet it can act like a monopolist.
> Yours
> Victor van Bijlert
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] on behalf of Dipak
> Bhattacharya [dbhattacharya200498 at yahoo.com]
> *Sent:* Wednesday, May 15, 2013 6:36 AM
> *To:* Matthew Kapstein; Christopher Wallis; Dominik Wujastyk
> *Cc:* Indology
> *Subject:* Re: [INDOLOGY] Brill acquires the Forsten Indology list
> Not a bad question. Some others too indirectly related to Indology may
> rise.
>  Take-over of publishing companies has been going on for many years. It
> first came to my notice when Mouton merged into de Gruyter. Some collectors
> were gratified.  Old copies of many books like Lingat’s * Les sources du
> droit*...,Maximilien  Rubel’s *Karl Marx* *etc*, publications under the
> series ‘Le Monde d’Outre Mer...’ ,’Janua Linguarum’  etc were sold
> extremely cheap.
>  But the occurrence of the phenomenon in the West has remained a mystery
> to me. Take-over and liquidation take place in India too. Usually labor
> trouble is blamed. But sometimes the role played by notorious takeover
> kings is clear. Also the proverbial throwing out the refuse after squeezing
> the juice is often indicated. But, according to my knowledge, there are
> strong laws against such malpractice or abuse of law in the highly
> industrialized countries. Then why should an active and apparently
> profitably running company lose its entity?
>  Best
>  DB
>   ------------------------------
> *From:* Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu>
> *To:* Christopher Wallis <bhairava11 at gmail.com>; Dominik Wujastyk <
> wujastyk at gmail.com>
> *Cc:* Indology <indology at list.indology.info>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:12 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [INDOLOGY] Brill acquires the Forsten Indology list
>  Was Forsten a bargain?
> Matthew Kapstein
> Directeur d'études,
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> The University of Chicago
>   ------------------------------
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J. Silk
Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
The Netherlands

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