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"Pay the authors" is a really good strategy to incentivize the production of quality content. Get rid of the publishers and just have a short supply chain: author --print_on_demand--> readers. With a price tag in the 20-50 range, a prof could make a living from this book, even if the book isn't popular. When using print-on-demand and cutting out all the middlemen, the margins are very good (50% of list price vs 5% if going with mainstream publisher).

The useful part of a publisher is developmental editing (product) and copy editing (Q/A), so there is an opportunity for "lightweight" publishing companies that help expert authors produce the book—like self publishing, but you don't have to do the boring parts. I'm working in that space. We have two textbooks out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0992001005/noBSmathphys and https://www.amazon.com/dp/0992001021/noBSLA

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