Why PICT Books?
PICT Books, like all our work at PICT, was born out of our personal experience, as scholars, with the current academic world—in this case, the world of academic publishing.
Academic publishing is a business, and its business model depends on sales to institutions rather than individuals. As a result, most scholarly books are too expensive for the average reader to buy. At the same time, though, many academic publishers offer their authors little by way of remuneration—if they offer remuneration at all.
Authors put up with this system because many of them do not publish primarily to be read, or even paid. Rather, they publish to fulfill their institutions’ mandated quotas and build their CVs for the next job search. How much actual effort goes into the writing and editing of such works should not be hard to imagine.
As for authors who really have something to say—especially if that something upsets the orthodoxy in any given field—they are often kept at bay by a peer review system where manuscripts are vetted by scholars who are invested in established methods, perspectives, and narratives—scholars who can kill a book with a simple thumbs-down.
The result are books too safe to be challenging, too obscure to be read, and too expensive to be bought; books doomed, if not actively designed, to rot in libraries and never meet the public—the very same public that finances them via scholars and institutions.
The situation calls for a practical and radical alternative, for an example of academic publishing that is beyond the goals of gatekeeping and profit, respectful and rewarding to the author, and relevant and engaging for the general reader.
Enter PICT Books. This new imprint aims at the general public through affordable prices ensured by our non-profit ethos. It aims at being accessible through engaging, legible prose achieved by a painstaking editing process. It aims at being relevant by giving authors free rein in the pursuit of the topics they genuinely care about. And it aims at fair remuneration by passing on the majority of revenues to authors.
PICT Books, like all our work at PICT, is animated by an amateur spirit; not in the common English sense of dilettantism, but in the common French sense of passionate volunteer enthusiasm. It is sustained by the work of the PICT faculty, who handle every aspect of the book production on a strictly non-profit basis.
The message of this manifesto is the same as all our others’: however inevitable any institutionalized system confronting us might seem, we as individuals can always bond in solidarity to produce alternatives to it. The only real inevitability is change, and we are thrilled to offer a concrete example of such change, an example that we hope will serve as inspiration to others.
Your PICT Team