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Web Letters | The Nation

Score So Far at the University of Missouri: Books 0, Football Coach $2.7 Million

Missing the story

Katha Pollitt wrote a cookie-cutter template on “university spends on sports, won’t spend on x,” and she badly misses the real story. The economics of book publishing—by anyone, much less the dust mote University of Missouri Press—are in a death spiral. The economics of university libraries are in serious trouble, with print libraries becoming increasingly like museums for dusty artifacts.

The football coach of the University of Missouri pays for himself, because his program generates enough revenue to fund most of the athletic department (including women’s sports, which may be fifty years away from being self-sustaining).

It is basest sensationalism to pair the two subjects in a blast from the Nation, an easy way out while ducking the real, difficult story. The reporter in this way makes it look as though she lacks the courage to tell university presses the truth: they are doomed. They are a waste of academic budgets. The market for printed books is largely unviable. If the Encyclopedia Britannica finds the print market dead, perhaps the University of Missouri should too.

How will the University of Missouri transform its publishing mark into a digital brand? This is what needs to be done, rather than keeping print on life support for another year or two. Dead business is dead.

Randle Reece

Franklin, TN

Jun 28 2012 - 10:32am

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