Wow, someone wants to publish me!
Update: if you’ve found this old post and are interested in learning more about VDM, please see my translation of Nina May’s interview of Wolfgang Müller.
Does that sound sarcastic? It should.
The noxious German vanity publisher VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller has apparently cooked up a script (I speculate) to troll various institutional repositories and spam the authors of items found therein with offers to publish their theses. Here’s the text of the second such overture from VDM to me, which, amazingly (yes, more sarcasm), reads exactly as a “personal” message from Melissa Corlett, VDM’s Acquisitions Editor, sent to a colleague of mine in the US the other day. All errors, poor formatting, and missing punctuation are hers/the script’s.
I am writing on behalf of the German Publishing House, VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller
In the course of a research in Kansas State University, I came across a reference to your thesis on “We love open source software. No, you can’t have our code” and your email address.
We are German-based publisher whose aim is to make academic research available to a wider audience, so that’s why I am contacting you today.
VDM Verlag would be especially interested in publishing your dissertation in the form of a printed book. Your reply including an e-mail address to which I can send an e-mail with further information in an attachment will be greatly appreciated.
I am looking forward to hearing back from you soon.
For one, the piece she mentions is an article in the open access Code4Lib Journal. It would make a mighty thin book. Beyond that, there’s the sheer inanity of asking–in an email message–for an email address from me so they can send me more spam. More galling, the works they are using to generate these spam messages are mostly coming from IRs, which are, of course, nearly always open access repositories. So what this message really says is
“hey, author, are you so vain that you will jump at a chance to publish your book, even with a crappy German vanity press? If so, we have a deal for you. After we publish it, we will make it look like serious scholarship [which it may or may not be, but will not be carefully edited by professional editors at the very least] and sell it for egregious sums of money, largely to libraries too lazy to identify and banish vanity presses from their purchases”
Incidentally, any library on that list should be ashamed of themselves.
This needs to stop. Authors do not get rich off of these schemes. Publishers do, by taking advantage of the collective naivete of authors, readers, and libraries. There are better, and friendlier, ways to get readership for your work, such as the aforementioned institutional repository and any number of open access publishers.
If you’re not convinced of the worthlessness and perniciousness of presses such as VDM, ask yourself why a publisher would spam the globe trolling for manuscripts. Is it really about scholary communication?
If you do agree, mark any and all such messages as spam in the mail service of your choice. Let’s call some spades spades.
PS – The funniest part? This quote from Ms. Corlett’s email signature:
“To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are three great difficulties in being an author” Charles Caleb Colton
Apparently she is irony-proof.