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In September 2005, the Mellon Foundation funded an exploratory research project to assess the state ofscholarly publishing in the field of art and architectural history, with the goal of understanding the challenges faced by bothscholars and publishers working in this area. From the perspective of university-based art historians, shrinking opportunities topublish scholarly books are experienced as jeopardizing the intellectual vitality of art and architectural history. From theperspective of publishers, increasing publication costs and commercial pressures are experienced as constraining their abilityto publish in certain areas of scholarship.

The present study involved seven components: background data collection on trends in art history publishing;background data collection on trends in art history doctorates conferred; focused discussion sessions with art historians;interviews with editors and publishers in the field; a focused discussion session with art history editors; a survey of arthistory editors on the characteristics of the art publishing programs at their presses; and a summit meeting of authors,publishers, and the Mellon Foundation to discuss the research findings and their implications.

Quantitative data collection

Art history publishing.

To quantify trends in art history publishing, data were collected on the number of art history works publishedannually by university presses since 1980. A sample of these works was further broken down into the categories of single-author worksand museum-related works. Some key findings:

The number of art history books published annually by university presses climbed significantly from the early1990s to the late 1990s, but has grown at a much slower rate since 2000.(It is important to note that this includes all titlesclassified as art history, including single-author monographs, multiple-author works, edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, etc.)During the early 1990s (1990-94), university presses published 1,356 art history books, according to the Bowker Global Books inPrint database, or an average of about 269 art history titles per year. During the second half of the 1990s (1995-99), the number ofart history books published by university presses increased 37% to 1,844, or an average of 369 per year (i.e., 100 more titles peryear).

During the next five year period (2000-04), the number of art history books published by university pressesincreased once again, but at a much slower rate. Between 2000 and 2004, university presses published 1,949 art history books (anaverage of 390 art history titles per year), an increase of 6% (or 21 more books per year) over the previous five-year period.

(Click on graphic for enlarged view.)

The number of single-author works in art history increased significantly from the early 1990s to the late1990s, but declined somewhat during the most recent five-year period for which data are available (2000-04). A title by titleanalysis of art history books at eight university presses considered to be key publishers in the field of art history showsthat the number of single-author works in art history published by these presses increased from an average of 63 per year during thelate 1980s to 121 per year during the late 1990s (a 92% increase). Between 2000 and 2004, however, the average number of single-authorworks in art history published by these presses declined to about 117 per year, a 3% drop.

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Source:  OpenStax, The state of scholarly publishing in the history of art and architecture. OpenStax CNX. Sep 22, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10377/1.2
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