An article in the Cornell Daily Sun ( The Sun Online, 9/21) tracks the development of a unique University Press book publishing project known as Signale. A collaboration between Cornell University Press, Cornell University Library, and the Cornell German Studies department, Signale combines e-books, POD and short-run printing to "allow...publishing in German Studies and other [niche] fields to break even.”


“Many libraries have stopped buying books in the smaller humanities because the target customer pool for those books is much smaller,” Walker said. “Lower sales made publishing in smaller humanities more difficult.”


To support ongoing scholarship, the project to discover a sustainable model for academic publishing was conceived five years ago as an initiative to explore ways through which the University Library could function as a publisher and produce scholarly materials at a lower cost.


“We received a grant of $50,000 from The [Andrew W.] Mellon Foundation to come up with a strategy or a business model that will streamline the process, make the production cheaper, and continue to produce scholarly books without external sources of financial support,” said Terry Ehling, scholarly publishing strategist of the University Press.


The result was Signale's "electronic book series with a print component," which its founders hope will serve as a model for others trying to sustain their publishing operations in the smaller humanities.