DATE: 12/16/97

TO: ADS Executive Council

FROM: The Ad Hoc Publications Committee

RE: Report of the Meeting Held in Raleigh, NC, December 6, 1997

Members Present: Ronald R. Butters, Charles Carson, Connie Eble,

William Kretzschmar, Walt Wolfram (recorder)

Members Absent: Larry Davis, Allan Metcalf

Summary of Meeting:

The committee was charged to review the current publication status of

American Speech (AS hereafter) and PADS. This review process included

an examination of the current contract with the University of Alabama

Press as well as the consideration of proposals for publishing AS and

PADS from other journal publishers. Contacts by committee members with

agents from different publishers resulted in the submission of five

formal proposals for publishing AS and PADS: Blackwell, Duke

University Press, John Benjamins, Kluwer, and the University of

Alabama Press.

The committee reviewed the current state of AS and PADS publications

with the University of Alabama Press. Although the University of

Alabama Press publishes AS and PADS at a reasonable base cost to the

American Dialect Society (ADS hereafter), the mechanical production of

the journal is antiquated (for example, the editor is required to

submit camera-ready hard copy to the University of Alabama Press). It

was further noted that the current publication arrangement with the

University of Alabama Press is actually based on a subvention fund by

Duke University of approximately $35,000 per year. Duke is no longer

willing to sustain this subvention unconditionally. Therefore,

continuation of publication with the University of Alabama Press under

the current arrangement is NOT an option. If the ADS continues to

publish AS and PADS with the University of Alabama Press, then a new

arrangement will be required.

The committee established a set of criteria that would serve as the

basis for evaluating the proposals that we received. These include the

following factors: proprietary interest (editorial control), the

production process, electronic publication, marketing, membership and

subscription, financial terms, archiving and storage, supplemental

publications (PADS), stability, prestige, and commitment to the ADS.

After reviewing the proposals in terms of these considerations, the

committee determined that the two most competitive proposals were

those submitted by Blackwell and Duke University Press. For all of

the factors excluding commitment, the University of Alabama Press

proposal was considered to be less competitive than the Duke

University Press or Blackwell proposals. Nonetheless, because of the

longstanding loyalty and commitment to ADS by the University of

Alabama Press, we recommend three proposals for discussion by the ADS

Executive Committee and membership: Blackwell, Duke University Press,

and the University of Alabama Press.

Of the submitted proposals, Duke appeared to offer the best financial

deal for the ADS, although it should be noted that all of the

financial packages (including those from commercial publishers that we

did not forward for present consideration) were far superior to the

proposed financial package offered by the University of Alabama Press.

Duke also was strong in terms of the commitment factor, having invested

significant subvention funding (in excess of $500,000) over the past 15

years. Blackwell's proposal offers the marketing advantages of a large

and respected commercial publisher with experience in marketing linguistic

textbooks and journals. Duke does not currently publish linguistic

journals or textbooks, but has vast experience as a publisher of journals

and books in a wide variety of fields, including titles in linguistic

theory. With respect to proprietary interest, Blackwell proposes either

to buy the publications in whole or in part for up to $100,000, or to have

ADS retain full ownership. Duke University Press does not propose to buy

the publications. Neither press would interfere with editorial matters.

The current editors are all acquainted with the contact persons at Duke

University Press and are convinced that the transition from the University

of Alabama Press to Duke University Press would be seamless and easy as

compared to the transition to a new commercial press based in another


We determined that the evaluation of the relative strengths and

weaknesses of the respective proposals would be communicated to

representatives from each of the candidate publishers. Revised or

amended proposals would be encouraged on the basis of our feedback.

We also proposed inviting representatives of each of the candidate

publishers to New York for an opportunity to meet with interested ADS


The committee discussed membership status in the ADS, since some of

the proposals were based on differential fee rates for individuals and

institutions. Such a practice follows the common and expected

practice for journal subscriptions, and proposals from Blackwell and

Duke appear to be contingent upon the differential membership fee. The

committee recommended making a distinction between different types of

membership: regular, student, life, and subscriptions. Although

clarification is still necessary, it appears that this action might

require an amendment to the ADS constitution. The current by-laws

simply state, "Membership is open to all persons interested in the

object of the Society."

The committee concluded that AS and PADS were significantly

undervalued in the journal marketplace and that a course of action was

needed in order for the ADS journal to assume its rightful place in

the profession. It is obvious from the proposals submitted by the

different publishers that the journal is highly attractive to

commercial and non-profit, university-based publishers.

Finally, we noted that, regardless of which publisher we choose for

the new contract, the contract could be renegotiated for future years,

and publishers could be changed if and when circumstances require


Plan of Action:

As a result of our deliberation, we propose the following plan of


(1) We propose that a discussion of publication options for AS and

PADS be given high priority on the agenda for the upcoming meeting of

the Executive Committee and the general meeting of ADS in January,

1998, in New York City. All of the proposals submitted for our

consideration will be made available for perusal by the membership at

that time.

(2) We propose that representatives from the University of Alabama

Press, Blackwell, and Duke University Press be invited to meet with

interested ADS members after the executive and general meeting of the

ADS for purposes of clarification regarding the terms of the

proposals. Separate meetings will be held with each of the


(3) We propose that an announcement of publishing options for AS and

PADS be reported to the general membership through NADS or a special

mailing to the ADS membership. The general membership should be

encouraged to contact Executive Committee members with their opinions

concerning the merits of candidate publishers.

(4) We propose that a special vote of the Executive Committee be held

no later than March 31, 1998, in order to make a final decision about

the selection of a contract with a publisher for AS and PADS.

(5) We propose that a special negotiating committee meet with the

publisher selected by the vote of the Executive Committee to negotiate

the final terms of the contract for publishing AS and PADS. The

committee will be comprised of the ADS President, the Executive

Secretary, and two appointed members of ADS selected respectively by

the President and the Executive Secretary. It is anticipated that the

new contract should begin with the first issue of AS in 1999.

Walt Wolfram

Box 8105 English Dept.

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC 27695-8105


FAX (919) 515-1836

PH: (919) 515-4151