Prestigious literary journal goes OA

Alan K. Cubbage, Northwestern Reaffirms Commitment to University Press; TriQuarterly Magazine Goes Electronic, Northwestern University NewsCenter, September 21, 2009.

… The move to digital publishing [at Northwestern University Press] will continue with the transition of TriQuarterly, the Press’s literary journal, to an online format next year. TriQuarterly already has an online blog, TriQuarterly To-Day. …

The journal … will be made freely available on the web.

“This move will align publishing efforts more closely with the University’s academic enterprise while at the same time expanding electronic dissemination and public access to the wonderful literature and essays that are published in TriQuarterly,” [University Librarian Sarah] Pritchard said. “Scholarly publishing is increasingly moving to open access, allowing greater distribution of academic work. This reflects that trend and allows the journal editors to take advantage of the multimedia capabilities offered through online publishing.” …

Jennifer Howard, Literary Circles Reel at Northwestern’s Plans for ‘TriQuarterly’, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 24, 2009. Only an excerpt is OA.

Surprised, saddened, shocked: That’s how people in the literary-magazine world reacted when word came down this week that one of their own, the esteemed journal TriQuarterly, would cease print publication next year. …

The press reports to the university librarian, Sarah M. Pritchard, who played down the idea that TriQuarterly as we have known it would cease to exist. “The magazine is certainly continuing,” she said. “It’s going to solicit external content from prominent writers, as it always has. It’s going to go to an online environment, which will greatly expand its readership.” …

Going online, [Middlebury College professor of humanities Stephen Donadio] points out, is not a budgetary cure-all. “You might save money, but you lose revenue,” he says. “Nobody subscribes to online magazines.” …

Adding to the angst among editors is the lack of detail about what a born-again TriQuarterly might look like. The Northwestern news release is vague on the point. Without its traditional editorial structure, Mr. Donadio wonders, will the journal be the equivalent of an open-source blog? …

Neither [of the journal’s current editors] sees how an online version of TriQuarterly would really work and how it would preserve the spirit of the magazine they have known. “At this point, I don’t see a successfully open-source model for arts publishing,” [associate editor Ian] Morris said. “For me, that’s the crux of the matter.”

N.B. I’ve focused the excerpts here on the transition to online-only publishing and OA, but a lot of the angst seems to be wound up with other changes (such as sacking the existing editors and a greater reliance on student editors). This is a journal converting to OA at a moment of internal crisis, rather than in a moment of strength.