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Edwin Mellen Press
Founded1972; 52 years ago (1972)
FounderHerbert W. Richardson
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationLewiston, New York
Queenston, Canada
Lampeter, Wales
DistributionSelf-distributed; worldwide
Publication typesPeer-reviewed academic and reference books
Nonfiction topicsHumanities, education, social science, arts, law
ImprintsMellen Biblical Press; Mellen Poetry Press

The Edwin Mellen Press, sometimes stylised as Mellen Press, is an academic publisher. It was founded in 1972 by theology professor Herbert W. Richardson.[1] It has been involved in a number of notable legal and academic controversies, sometimes being labeled as a vanity press. Most, but not all, of its published works are in English.[a]


Following its founding in 1972, the publishing house was initially meant to publish specialized scholarship produced in Richardson's department at the University of St Michael's College,[b] Early publications included bibliographies, translations, and dissertations completed by faculty and doctoral students at the University of Toronto.[2] The house was named after Richardson's grandfather, Edwin Mellen, whom he describes as a lover of books.[3] As was Edwin Mellen University, a private university located on Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands operated by Richardson since 1992.[4]

Under Richardson, the publishing house grew and began publishing works by various scholars outside of the University of Toronto, widening its topics to the broader humanities and social sciences. By 1979 it had moved to new locations in Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Canada.[5] Its office in Lampeter, Wales opened in 1987.[5] By 1990 it was publishing up to 150 titles a year.[5] Following Richardson's professional parting with St Michael's College following a gross misconduct investigation[c] and a dismissal in October 1994 he began focussing more attention towards his publishing business raising the number works published a year to 350.[4][6]

Scholarly publishing

The Mellen Press describes its ethos when selecting works to publish as valuing "scholar-for-scholar research more than anything", stating "the sole criterion for publication is that the manuscript must make a contribution to scholarship". Its publications are peer-reviewed.[6] Research libraries constitute its primary customer base.[7]

Its Adèle Mellen Prize is awarded to an author for a book which, in the considered judgment of the press’ peer-reviewers, is deemed to make a "distinguished contribution to scholarship".[d][7]


The Edwin Mellen Press has been described by some critics as a vanity press. Contrary to this assertion the publisher stresses it is a "non-subsidy academic publisher" and does not accept payments from authors for purposes of publishing their work.[20] It has been often taken legal action against critics repeating the claim of it being a vanity press. Some critics claim that this has further damaged its reputation.[21]

The publisher's litigiousness began in 1993, when its former employee Robert West contacted the American academic magazine Lingua Franca. He urged the magazine to publish an exposé and described the publishing house's founder, Richardson, as a "rogue professor" operating a "vanity press."[citation needed] Lingua Franca published "Vanity's Fare: The Peripatetic Professor and His Peculiarly Profitable Press" by Warren St. John as the cover story of its September/October 1993 issue.[22] The article described the publishing house as a "quasi-vanity press cunningly disguised as an academic publishing house"[22]: 22  and, in particular, ridiculed Rulers of Reality and the Ruled Races (1990) by Joseph R. Washington, Jr. In response, the publisher sued West and Lingua Franca for libel.[21] The 1994 case against West was settled by West's letter of regret to Richardson for "the difficulties he had with Lingua Franca magazine and the University of Toronto". In it he stated "I do not believe Herbert Richardson to be a 'rogue professor' nor do I believe that the Edwin Mellen Press was organized to be a vanity operation".[23] However, in 1996, the publisher lost its lawsuit against Lingua Franca on grounds that the article in dispute was "supported by an honest assessment of the facts at hand when the article was published".[21]

In a 1995 conference talk Brock University philosopher Murray Miles quoted Edwin Mellen Press material, noting the press says it "accepts no author subsidies, but also pays no royalties" and expects authors to provide "error free, camera-ready copy" by themselves (Miles adds this means "a considerable expense is borne by the author"). He described his own experience of having a manuscript accepted without having sent a requested short statement about the academic merits of the work, concluding the press is "neither a traditional 'vanity press' nor a typical academic press either.... Here, then, is a puzzle worthy of the efforts of an investigative reporter."[6]

In 1998, the press sued Oxford University Press concerning a review by R.W. Burgess in one of its publications, the Journal of Theological Studies, that had the phrase "the Edwin Mellen Press is generally perceived to be an academic vanity press."[24] One year later the journal retracted the offending statements, apologized, and published a new review.[25]

In 2009, the press was successful in suing the academic Thom Brooks for blog postings found by the court to be defamatory. One of these was titled "More reasons to avoid Edwin Mellen Press". Brooks was required to pay financial damages and offered his "sincere apologies" to the Press saying he accepts "without reservation that Mellen does not charge authors anything to have their works published" and "now accepts that there was no truth in any of those allegations and that the criticisms he made...were unjustified".[26][27]

In 2012, the press pursued lawsuits against McMaster University and one of its librarians, Dale Askey, for $4.5 million in damages over statements alleged to be "false" and "defamatory in its tone and context."[28] He had criticized Mellen Press on a blog post, which had been deleted prior to the publisher filing suit.[29] The Canadian Association of University Teachers and others condemned the press for what they called SLAPP lawsuits intended to curtail academic freedom.[30][31][32] Martha Reineke started a petition demanding that the press drop the suits. It garnered 2,691 signatures. According to coverage of this event in the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 30 scholarly organizations condemned the press, which in turn maintained that its good reputation was at stake and had prompted the suit.[3] In March 2013 the press dropped one suit against Askey but maintained another.[33] In February 2015, the last of the lawsuits was settled out of court. Askey said, "The outcome of this case is essentially a neutral outcome for academic freedom. Both parties walk away from the matter admitting nothing and resolving nothing".[34]

In 2013, the Press threatened legal action against the Society for Scholarly Publishing for publishing blog posts containing what it characterized as "disparaging comments" and for allowing "libelous statements" to be posted in the reader comments section on The Scholarly Kitchen.[35] These posts were first removed and then restored in their entirety; but a reader comment which Mellen Press had found objectionable was removed.[36][37]


  1. ^ For example some of its publications are in French, German, Spanish, and Russian.[citation needed]
  2. ^ A constituent college of the University of Toronto.
  3. ^ Which Trueheart considers to have been in part caused by Richardson's activities operating Edwin Mellen Press and Edwin Mellen University. And which according to New in one of twelve charges found Richardson guilty of not properly disclosing the amount of time he spent operating his business ventures compared to his activities for St Michael's College. New additionally points out that scholars such as Westhues consider Richardson's investigation, tribunal, and firing a case of academic mobbing.[3][4]
  4. ^ A number of scholars have received this prize since 1985. Some of these include Joyce E. Salisbury (1985),[8] Elizabeth A. Clark (1986),[9] Karl W. Schweizer (1989),[10] Masudul Alam Choudhury (2002),[11] Mario I. Aguilar (2004),[12] Hilmi M. Zawati (2004),[13] Michael Egan (2006),[14] Joëlle Rollo-Koster (2008),[15] Nikolai Tolstoy (2009),[16] Anna Novakov (2009),[17] Bahar Davary (2009),[18] and Sue Brannan Walker (2013).[19]


  1. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press: Contact Details". Edwin Mellen Press: Academic Publishers. 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  2. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press". Edwin Mellen Press: Academic Publishers. 2008. Archived from the original on 7 November 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b c New, Jake (15 April 2013). "Herbert Richardson v. the World". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 59 (3). Gale A326493305. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Trueheart, Charles (13 July 1994). "Publish and Perish?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  5. ^ a b c "The Edwin Mellen Press". The Edwin Mellen Press - Academic Publishers. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Miles, Murray (2 April 2012). "The Responsibility Of Professors: Academic Freedom, Peer Review, And The Scholarly Conscience Today" (1995)". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  7. ^ a b "The Edwin Mellen Press". The Edwin Mellen Press - Academic Publishers. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Academic Book: Iberian Popular Religion, 600 BC to 700 AD: Celts, Romans, and Visigoths by Joyce E. Salisbury". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  9. ^ "Academic Book: Ascetic Piety and Women's Faith: Essays on Late Ancient Christianity by Elizabeth A. Clark". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  10. ^ "Academic Book: England, Prussia, and the Seven Years War Studies in Alliance Policies and Diplomacy by Karl W. Schweizer". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  11. ^ "Academic Book: Explaining the Qur'an. A Socio-Scientific Inquiry. Vol. 1 by Masudul Alam Choudhury". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Academic Book: Social History of the Catholic Church in Chile Volume I: The First Period of the Pinochet Government by Mario I. Aguilar". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Academic Book: Selected Socio-Legal Bibliography on Ethnic Cleansing, Wartime Rape, and Genocide in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda by Hilmi M. Zawati". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  14. ^ "Academic Book: The Tragedy of Richard II, Part One: A Newly Authenticated Play by Shakespeare, Vol. 1 by Michael Egan". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  15. ^ "Academic Book: The People of Curial Avignon: A Critical Edition of the Liber Divisionis and the Matriculae of Notre Dame la Majour by Joëlle Rollo-Koster". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Academic Book: Oldest British Prose Literature. The Compilation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi by Nikolai Tolstoy". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  17. ^ "Academic Book: Essays on Women's Artistic and Cultural Contributions 1919-1939: Expanded Social Roles for the New Woman Following the First World War by Paula Birnbaum and Anna Novakov". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Academic Book: Women and the Qur'an. A Study in Islamic Hermeneutics by Bahar Davary". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Academic Book: Ecological Poetics of James Dickey: A Study in How Landscape Shapes the Being of Man by Sue Brannan Walker". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  20. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press - official website". Edwin Mellen Press: Academic Publishers. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  21. ^ a b c Reid, Paul H. Jr. (2006). The Edwin Mellen Press Versus Lingua Franca: A Case Study in the Law of Libel. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0773454462.
  22. ^ a b St. John, Warren (September–October 1993). "Vanity's Fare: The Peripatetic Professor and His Peculiarly Profitable Press". Lingua Franca. pp. 1, 22–25, 62.
  23. ^ Westhues, Kenneth (2006). The Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High-Achieving Professors. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press. p. 325. ISBN 9780773459793.
  24. ^ Burgess, R.W. (April 1998). "Review of The Idea of Universal History from Hellenistic Philosophy to Early Christian Historiography". The Journal of Theological Studies. 49 (1): 324–328. doi:10.1093/jts/49.1.324.
  25. ^ Louth, Andrew (April 1999). "Review of The Idea of Universal History from Hellenistic Philosophy to Early Christian Historiography". The Journal of Theological Studies. 50 (1): 455–457. doi:10.1093/jts/50.1.455.
  26. ^ Doughty, Sophie (18 November 2009). "Newcastle University academic pays up for libelous blog". The Journal. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  27. ^ "Newcastle University academic apologises over libel blog". The Northern Echo. 17 November 2009.
  28. ^ Ruf, Cory (14 February 2023). "Book publisher sues McMaster librarian, university for libel". CBC News.
  29. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press vs. Dale Askey and McMaster University (Ontario Superior Court 2012)". Ontario Superior Court. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  30. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (8 February 2013). "Price of a Bad Review". Inside Higher Ed.
  31. ^ New, Jake (8 February 2013). "Edwin Mellen Press Sues University Librarian for Libel". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  32. ^ Smith, Kevin L. "Publishing Ethics and Platform Neutrality | Peer to Peer Review". Library Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  33. ^ "Edwin Mellen press drops one suit against librarian". Library Journal. Vol. 138, no. 6. 1 April 2013. p. 12. Gale A324979873.
  34. ^ Fabris, Casey (5 February 2015). "Librarian Says Academic Press Has Settled Lingering Lawsuit Against Him". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  35. ^ Anderson, Kent (29 March 2013). "Posts Removed Because We've Received Letters From Edwin Mellen Press' Attorney". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  36. ^ Price, Gary (29 March 2013). "The Scholarly Kitchen Removes Posts Re: Edwin Mellen Publishers, Following Letter from Lawyer". InfoDocket. Library Journal. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  37. ^ Meyer, Carol Anne (3 April 2013). "SSP Board Decides to Reinstate Removed Posts". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved 4 April 2013.