Dear subscribers, colleagues, and friends,
With this message, BMCR announces its winter break. We will resume publication on Monday 10 January, after the joint annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies.
2021 ends with a lamentable return of the suffering and uncertainties that have afflicted the world since the early days of 2020. We should not forget that the grounds for optimism that characterized many months of this year remain potent.
BMCR shared in the renewal of this year. After publishing only 385 reviews in 2020, we brought out 609 this year. (For reference, BMCR published 601 reviews in 2019.) What is more, we record 870 titles as assigned to reviewers, together with 177 that are available for review. BMCR flourishes through the extraordinary work of authors of books and the generosity of reviewers—and the volunteer efforts of its editorial board. We are immensely grateful to all in the field who contribute to the extraordinary collective enterprise of classical scholarship.
We take this opportunity to reflect on a coming change of policy at BMCR concerning our ability to receive and mail physical books.
Before Covid, BMCR “received” books by three means: (i) some publishers mailed regular shipments containing all books published during some interval; (ii) some individuals and publishers with small lists sent us one-off parcels; (iii) some publishers sent us bibliographic data only, and mailed the book directly to the reviewer when once BMCR located a suitable individual.
Under Covid, multiple forces converged to impel a transition on the part of publishers from the first category (i.e., automatically mail all published items to Bryn Mawr) to the third (mailing individual volumes only after a reviewer has been located). BMCR welcomed this transition. We did so because the mailroom of Bryn Mawr College was closed for many months. It is also true that shipping books is expensive—perhaps the largest line-item in BMCR’s budget—and we need scarcely remind readers that BMCR is free to all readers. We do not have a regular income stream to support this cost.
Finally, it makes no sense ecologically to double the environmental toll of a task that can easily be accomplished by shipping only once.
In the coming month, BMCR will therefore be contacting all publishers who still send us physical books and asking them to move to a modus operandi in which they mail those books directly to reviewers. We wish also to put authors of books on notice not to ship books directly to us. Instead, please ask your publisher to be willing, upon notification from us, to send the book directly to a reviewer. Please know, too, that we will arrange shipping only by direct contact with the publisher, to preserve our long-standing policy of not revealing the identity of reviewers prior to publication of the review.
Our hope is to close the BMCR mailroom, as much as possible, at the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Best wishes for a restful close to the year.
Senior editors, BMCR