Many people are glowingly describing the new journal, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel (HeBAI) and rightly so since it has a stellar editorial board and an impressive list of scholars contributing to the first issue. Furthermore, it fills an interesting niche in which an entire journal is devoted to looking at the history of Israel in relation to biblical and cognate texts. However, what I don’t hear anyone asking is: why is this new journal using a business model from the early 1900′s? Library budgets are already under the gun at most every institution and adding a new journal with an institutional subscription price of 200 euros per year is, in my opinion, not the best idea (but, it is not the worst; at least it is not $667 like the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha or Vetus Testamentum which is 355 euros for an electronic only subscription).
Why is it that it must cost this much? There are many other new, peer-reviewed outlets that have free dissemination such as the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and SBL’s Ancient Near East Monograph series. These ventures are underwritten by institutions so I understand that a self-standing journal must pay for things such as typesetting and the like. But should it really cost 200 euros to do this? There are other journals, such as the Bulletin for Biblical Research, (full disclosure: I am on the editorial board) which have a cost of $65 dollars for institutional subscriptions. I don’t know what kind of editorial services HeBAI will offer but BBR does the peer-review process, type-setting, even close proof-reading and checking citations to make sure they are accurate (which many other journals with far higher subscription prices don’t do), and dissemination all for $65.
Lastly, do we really need another journal? Is the space in other journals already packed cheek and jowl with indispensable articles that desperately deserve to see the light of day? Every scholar I talk with laments the fact that secondary literature in every speciality has exploded to almost unwieldy levels. Do we really need another journal to add to this existing problem or would tighter scrutiny of submissions and greater selectivity be better in the long run?
On one level I join many others in warmly welcoming this new journal yet on the other I think it may illustrate and contribute to some of the problems of the educational-industrial complex.
What do you think?