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Session 2-66
Death or Transfiguration? What Future Readerships, Media, and Market Forces Hold for Scholarly Publication and Writings on Music

Arved Ashby (The Ohio State University), Organizer
Victoria Cooper, Editor, Cambridge University Press
Kyle Gann, Critic and Author (Village Voice)
Peter Givler, Executive Director, Association of American University Presses
Michael Ochs, Editor, W.W. Norton, Inc.
Kerala J. Snyder, Editor, Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music
Ruth M. Stone (Indiana University)
Robert S. Winter (University of California, Los Angeles)

This is clearly a time of crisis for scholarly publishing, which is coming under so many new market pressures and an intensification of existing incentives. Publishing represents yet another way that music scholarship is being made to confront economic realities and a public market--a kind of echo effect from the privations of the late '80s and another way that scholarship has been shaped and changed by the North American public's renegotiation of its support for academia. Given a recent downsizing and the fact that several prominent publishers are now starting to limit themselves to textbooks, one could in fact wonder if we are witnessing the slow death of scholarly publishing in music. But at the same time this is also a moment of new and incalculable opportunity, given the new formats and possibilities for designing new readerships for scholarly writing: indeed, the current age is witnessing perhaps the most remarkable transformation in printing technology and communication since Gutenberg. In this brave new world, technological capability, economic pressure and cultural change are rapidly combining to redefine scholarly communications.
As an attempt to sketch out just where these developments are taking us, this joint session assembles seven authorities in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, music librarianship, music criticism, interactive arts, and scholarly publishing. The change in centuries calls for predictions: each panelist will present a vision of what one particular aspect of music publishing, loosely defined, will be like in roughly 30 years. Each person is also invited to address the present, as prelude to and precipitation of that vision. As each panelist will speak for 15 minutes and then leave more than that amount of time for moderated discussion from the panel and the floor, it is hoped that polemics will be included and the predictions will spark some controversy.
The topics will include: (1) the broad impact that digital formats utilized in CD-ROM and internet publishing will have, and are already having, on the format and structure of scholarship; (2) the impact of digital formats on the circulation of scholarship, which stands to benefit from the low-cost access and almost unlimited dissemination in digital and web publishing at the same time as scholarship is being priced out of the book market; (3) the relations between the change in media and inevitable changes in readership, with digital scholarship allowing for mediation between the commercial pressures that can drive music journalism to be brainless and the academic pressures compelling the scholarly journals to be intimidating and censorial; (4) the forums available for "nonscholarly" publication from scholars, who will inevitably be writing more and more for students and the general public rather than for one another; (5) the challenges in providing for a means of web accountability, with professional organizations likely rising up to validate and keep track of scholarly writings on the web and tenure committees finding it necessary to embrace web publishing; and (6) just what scholars and readers stand to lose if they lose the professional judgment, editing expertise, and cachet that a publisher now provides.

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