As those who follow us on Twitter will have seen, although Wonkhe published Rachel’s piece on the lack of market pressure in the academic e-book industry yesterday, they have dealt poorly with dissent and criticism levelled at them for a number of issues, including their “support” from Kortext and the platform that Kortext appear to have with them. One of us was accused of being “nasty” and abusive (with no evidence provided when asked) and “banned for life” from Wonkhe, which does not sit with their claim to be the home of debate in HE.
Today Rachel received an invitation to join a panel at the upcoming “Wonkhe @ Home: A micro-commission on the future of learning resources” (“supported” by Kortext). We took the decision to decline the invitation due to what has happened. Here is the response that we sent:
“Thank you for the invitation but after recent events I am not able to accept. I am really pleased that my piece was published and that I was able to put forward the issues in a public forum, but I have been extremely disappointed in how Wonkhe has engaged with our campaign team as a whole. Johanna has been singled out, and accused of being “nasty” and abusive for standing up for herself and for us as a profession (with no evidence of this provided when she asked for it) and is being trolled on Twitter by sock puppet accounts (which I am not accusing of being associated with Wonkhe, but these accounts are targeting Johanna in response to tweets between her and Wonkhe). A lot of people in the community are appalled by how Wonkhe responded to her criticism. Wonkhe cannot place a “lifetime ban” on one of us and invite another of us to speak at their event; it smacks of only inviting in the voices that you want to hear. I’m also not impressed to see that Johanna’s comments on pieces have been removed – it does not encourage the free debate that I thought Wonkhe is all about. Again, I am pleased that I was published, but it’s been really soured by the way in which Wonkhe has handled dissent and criticism here. I don’t feel reassured that my contribution to an event would not be manipulated in some way.
I would prefer for the link to the event to be removed from my article so that it does not look like it is anything that we are involved in.
It also doesn’t sit well with me to be part of an event which costs £80 for a half-day. I understand that the attendees tend to be policy staff, but a lot of universities are struggling for any kind of training budget and I’m concerned that people (i.e. non-Russell Group staff) may be left out.
I (and a lot of others) also remain concerned at how frequently Kortext are popping up. When you’re being “supported” by an organisation then they inevitably have some influence.
Johanna, Caroline and I, and the wider library and HE community on Twitter, have a lot of expertise and knowledge to offer when it comes to ebooks and other online resources. We are willing to get involved in debate and discussion, but we should not and will not be treated in the way that Johanna has been.
(We note that the link to the event has now been removed from the bottom of Rachel’s piece as per our request.)
We look forward to continuing to engage with the HE and library communities, and we invite interested parties to join us:
Monday 12 April: Caroline Ball and Rachel Bickley will be co-hosting the #uklibchat discussion on #ebooksos at 7pm (GMT). All are welcome to join in on Twitter and the agenda can be found here.
Tuesday 13th April – UKSG Online Conference Breakout 32: #Ebooksos scandal : the need for critical collection development. This is an on-demand presentation by Johanna Anderson and Cathal MCcauley, University Librarian at Maynooth University, Ireland. We discuss the #ebooksos campaign, the library profession’s role in countering these issues and the long-term consequences if they are not addressed. There will be a live Q&A session to follow (details to be confirmed).
5th-6th May – Critical Approaches to Libraries Conference (CALC) – Johanna Anderson, Caroline Ball and Rachel Bickley will discuss the ebook crisis and the restrictive impact it has on critical collection development and academic freedoms (a number of bursaries are available – please see their webpages for details).
11th-12th May – The Independent Publishers Guild Spring Conference (details to be confirmed)
6th-8th July – Johanna Anderson, Caroline Ball and Rachel Bickley will be discussing Information literacy as activism: standing up to the academic e-book industry at FestivIL by LILAC (details to be confirmed).
You can also watch the recording of the UCL Webinar on “Ebooks: Scandal or Market economics?” at which Johanna addressed 700 attendees.
Thank you for all of your support, and we hope to see you at #ebooksos on (virtual) tour!