Do We Need It And Why Does It Cost So Much?

Over at, Charles discusses the new journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel (HeBAI). Like many others, he correctly has considerable praise for it. But he also has a few problems: “Why is it that it must cost this much?” “Lastly, do we really need another journal?” Both of these are good questions. Please read Charles’ post; he makes several abnormally interesting points.
In the course of his discussion, Charles mentions the open access Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and SBL’s Ancient Near East Monograph series. My own question concerning HeBAI is, why is it a print journal at all? I discussed this issue the other day when I mentioned a journal proposed by De Gruyter and the Association of Ancient Historians.

2 thoughts on “Do We Need It And Why Does It Cost So Much?”

  1. Very good question–why start a new journal which uses dead trees, what’s the point? My guess is that it is about price and the fact that physicality presents the illusion of value and prestige which then allows the publisher to charge a higher price. But, who knows, maybe some libraries are wanting physical copies; for the life of me I can’t understand why Gorgias publishes physical copies of JHS.

  2. It’s a slow awakening but academics are starting to realize how meaningless, in multiple ways, the traditional journal system has become since the advent of the internet.
    One, since the internet is by nature boundless, there will be a potentially infinite number of journals all vying for our money. Since we don’t have infinite money, it doesn’t take much math to realize that subscription fees become unjustifiable and unsustainable.
    Two, the internet does exactly what the journal was originally designed for: mass communication. Does the effort and time it takes to learn about and meet individual journal standards, sometimes arbitrary standards at that, warrant the return on investment? No doubt, some excellent pieces are rejected simply for the sake of brevity in a finite paper medium. All just to accommodate an increasingly limited, increasingly aging group of pre-internet stalwarts who steadfastly ignore the benefits of computer technology?
    While I confess my love of iconoclasty, I’m not merely being quibblesome when I wrote Outdated goals for outdated people last year. In it, I cited a paper which talks poignantly about the flaws of journals: Nat Lang, Are we nearing the end of the journal?, ironically through the auspices of MIT Press Journals who were admirably brave enough to publish on their site.
    From the perspective of Computer Science, these problems are to me natural consequences of what is known already from the science of information entropy. Journals have cornered themselves by becoming comparative barriers to information in light of the web, thus increasing their entropy and undermining their social value.

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