A short thought on Edwin Mellen Press

April 2, 2013

As is now well known, Edwin Mellen Press sued librarian Dale Askey for posting a negative review of their products. Now they have threatened to sue the Scholarly Kitchen for writing about this, and also to sue one of the commenters on that site.

I, of course, am not a librarian, and so have no opinion of my own regarding Edwin Mellen Press. For all I know, they are a competent and legitimate publisher who work to the highest standards and provide excellent value for money.

But I do have one question, and it’s this: what does it say about a publisher when their response to criticism, or to discussion of criticism, is bring out the lawyers? Does it give you confidence in their ability to persuade with logic that their work is good?

Of course, individual librarians will make their own choices about which books to buy and which journals to subscribe to. Perhaps in making those decisions, one of the things they will consider is the very impressive steps that Edwin Mellen Press has taken to protect its reputation.

Update (almost immediately)

Here is a Wayback Machine cache of one of the supposedly offending Scholarly Kitchen articles. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t see anything remotely objectionable here: just professional opinion, dispassionately recounted, and facts about a previous similar lawsuit.

And here is TechDirt’s assessment of the situation — which is considerably more forthright than many others.


5 Responses to “A short thought on Edwin Mellen Press”

  1. Kenny Says:

    Wow! Just Wow! What is it with companies that think they can avoid competition by litigation. (brings Apple vs. Samsung to mind)

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Well, I’m sure Edwin Mellen Press could compete on price and quality if they chose to. They’re probably using litigation instead as part of a carefully considered multi-prong strategy.

  3. Bryan Riolo Says:

    Mike Taylor Says:

    April 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    “Well, I’m sure Edwin Mellen Press could compete on price and quality if they chose to. They’re probably using litigation instead as part of a carefully considered multi-prong strategy.”

    One hopes you are joking, Mr. Taylor. I will assume so, just so I can reply without getting nauseous. Not about you or your colleagues, but about Edwin Mellen Press. I doubt if anyone with high integrity would be suing a librarian for expressing an opinion. The blatant attempt to bribe said librarian should perhaps be perceived as a clue to EMP’s true motivations…make money at any cost, even at the cost of reputation…rather than as an answer to true defamation.

    On the basis of their threats, I have to assume they cannot state their case by showing that their product is as good as it needs to be and is priced fairly. If my assumption is correct, then EMP needs to go the litigation route in order to keep abreast of their boat payments and golf club fees.

  4. Mark Robinson Says:

    Mike, if you had posted this a day earlier, I would have taken it to be an April Fools’ joke because surely nobody is this asinine.

    I just hope I don’t get sued by a donkey for using them as a comparative with EMP.

  5. […] the most recent and troubling predatory-publisher story I’ve read is about a lawsuit. No, not the Edwin Mellen Press libel suit. Three publishers are suing Delhi University for selling course packs to students that use […]

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