Burlington becomes a publisher

September 28 2018

Image of Burlington becomes a publisher

Picture: Burlington Magazine

Important news; The Burlington Magazine is launching its own publishing arm. Three or four books will be published each year. The first will be Roger Fry and Italian Art, by the magazine's former Editor Caroline Elam. The Burlington has chosen to enter the publishing field at a time when art hsitory publishing is facing greater challenges than ever before, some of which are outlined in this excellent editorial:

[...] the quandary for publishers of academic art history is inescapable. How can a typical book on this subject, such as a monograph, consisting of around 100,000 words and 200 illustrations, be made to work? Reproduction fees are one significant issue. Although it is true that some museums are making more images freely available, especially for academic publication, in the United Kingdom they have been remarkably reluctant to do so, blaming the need to sustain revenues in a time of declining public subsidy. Not only are authors increasingly expected to shoulder this financial burden, they are now also often expected to supply their text for nothing, or a nominal fee. Deplorable as this undoubtedly is, it reflects the economic reality of publishing a serious art history title. For such a book to be viable it either needs to be subsidised – by a charitable foundation or an academic institution if not the author – or it has to sell around 3,000 copies. That is a very tall order for a specialised academic title, which in most subjects typically sell fewer than 1,000 copies.

One of the Burlington's guiding principles in the new venture will be to promote good writing:

The impressive sales figures of books by leading academic historians, such as Eamon Duffy, David Cannadine or Margaret MacMillan, show that there is a large popular appetite for well-written, intellectually challenging texts on a wide range of historical subjects. This is an appetite that is much less often satisfied by art historians. The way to sell more books on art history is to encourage more people to read them, and that will be achieved not by technological or economic innovation but by something that this Magazine, and now the books it will publish, has always endeavoured to provide – good writing.

Bravo to The Burlington!

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