The Disseminary License

The hoopoe, our emblem

One of the Disseminary’s purposes entails demonstrating the value of using digital technology for publishing academic resources. We want to operate at the convergence of three forces that act upon academic publishing in the area of theology and relgiious studies: first, that academic publishing tends toward low profits, high expense, and limited circulation; second, that digital technology diminishes distribution costs almost to the point of insignificance while dramatically increasing the size of the audience; and third, that institutions with an interest in religious education (not only colleges, universities, and seminaries, but also congregations and foundations) allot considerable sums as stipends for teachers to prepare material that goes unpublished.

The first and third points mean that scholars and teachers constantly prepare material for presentation, which publishers cannot afford to distribute (despite a vast audience for such material). Although a global audience seeks opportunities to learn more about religious, spiritual, theological topics, print publications reach mainly local readerships (“local” that is, by nation and to some extent by language); costs relative to transportation, as well as import/export duties, constrict the extent to which interested learners can gain access to books and articles from other nations. The Disseminary can make texts available around the world, to schools, libraries, and individuals wherever there’s internet access.

We will continue to seek support for commissioning publishable works, but we will also negotiate with conferences, endowed lectureships, and other venues for the permission to distribute texts that have already been commissioned by these sources.

The Disseminary license (which we’re still trying to get pinned down in legal writing) will work this way:

We believe that this mode of publication ably serves all interested parties, without instituting a pointless rivalry with familiar publishing institutions. Academic authors typically receive very little in exchange for their compositions; our model proposes both an initial stipend and the possibility of future royalties. Moreover, a significant part of teachers’ motivation to publish arises from their commitment to circulating their ideas, an end that the Disseminary can serve much better than conventional publications. Readers benfit from having free access to texts in a variety of convenient forms. Even print publishers benefit from having this alternative medium by which authors can distribute hard-to-market works (odd-length monographs, extremely technical works, Festschriften, conference proceedings and symposia, for instance). Moreover, the Disseminary can help print publishers recognize commercially-promising authors.

The Disseminary will publish both peer-reviewed texts (in the Quadriga series) and, in the Hoopoe series, texts that (for various reasons) merit publication apart from peer review. Our program of publication will make finely-prepared educational resources available around the world at no charge, at the same time expanding and enhancing the audience for theological and religious books.