Edwin Mellen Press

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Edwin Mellen Press
Mellen logo.jpg
FounderHerbert Richardson
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationLewiston, New York
Publication typesBooks
Official websitewww.mellenpress.com

The Edwin Mellen Press is a publishing house with offices in Lewiston, New York, and Lampeter, Wales. It was founded, in 1972, by the religious studies scholar Professor Herbert W. Richardson.[1] It is a "non-subsidy academic publisher of books in the humanities and social sciences" releasing "Monographs, critical editions, collections, translations, revisionist studies, constructive essays, bibliographies, dictionaries, reference guides and dissertations".[2] Most Mellen books are in English; with many also in French, German, Spanish, Russian, and a variety of other languages.


The press's initial purpose was to publish specialized scholarship produced in Richardson's department at the University of St Michael's College (a Roman Catholic institution federated with the University of Toronto). Early releases included bibliographies, translations, and dissertations completed by faculty and doctoral students at Toronto.[3]

Richardson ran the press, initially, from the basement of his home. He named it in honour of his grandfather, Edwin Mellen, who was a lover of books.[4] Richardson's great-grandfather was Isaac Adams, a Massachusetts politician who invented the Adams Power Press, which revolutionized the printing industry.[5]

Richardson expanded the press, year by year, publishing works by various scholars outside Toronto. By 1979, the press had grown large enough to warrant larger premises, which Richardson found in Lewiston, New York (a village just across the Canada-US border near Niagara Falls).[6] The press was soon publishing as many as 150 titles a year and, in 1987, the Press opened a UK office in Lampeter, Wales.

Scholarly publishing[edit]

Edwin Mellen Press publishes books written at doctoral level.[clarification needed] Richardson explains that the press "values scholar-for-scholar research more than anything."[7]

While university presses often privilege submissions that will appeal to a wide readership, Mellen's main interest is whether a work will advance knowledge – even if it is in a highly specialized research area. The Press states that "the sole criterion for publication is that the manuscript must make a contribution to scholarship".[7]

As a result, Mellen often publishes research that would otherwise be rejected by larger university presses, even on such esoteric topics as the history of the Macadamia nut industry in Hawaii, or the role of parrots in fiction.

Research libraries are the single main market for Mellen Press's books, with the University of London holding 4,926 Mellen titles; and Harvard holding 4,731 titles.[4]


The Press has been known to sue critics in defense of its own, and its authors', reputations, with some claiming that this has further damaged its reputation (the Streisand Effect).[8]

The press's litigiousness dates from 1993, when Robert West (a disgruntled former employee) contacted Lingua Franca describing Richardson as a "rogue professor" and Mellen as a "vanity press". West urged the magazine to publish an exposé. Lingua Franca commissioned Warren St John and published his account as the cover story for September/October 1993: "Vanity's Fare: the Peripatetic Professor and his Peculiarly Profitable Press". The article described Mellen as a "quasi-vanity press cunningly disguised as an academic publishing house" and, in particular, ridiculed a book Mellen had published by Joseph R. Washington, Jr., an African-American Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.[9] In response, the Press took legal action for libel against West and Lingua Franca and, in subsequent years, has also pursued actions against other individuals and organizations which have echoed these accusations.[8] The Press's 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"; clarifying "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".[10] However, in 1996, the press 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".[8]

In 1998, the press sued Oxford University Press concerning a review in one of its publications (the Journal of Theological Studies) which claimed that Mellen was a vanity press. In a subsequent issue of the journal, Oxford University Press repudiated the offending statements, apologized, and published a new book review.

In 2009, the press was successful in suing the philosopher Thom Brooks (Newcastle University) for defamatory blog postings, including one entitled "More reasons to avoid Edwin Mellen Press". Brooks was required to pay financial damages and offered his "sincere apologies" to the Press saying he "now accepts that there was no truth in any of those allegations...".[11][12]

In 2012, the press received negative publicity for its lawsuits against McMaster University and one of its librarians, Dale Askey. While working at Kansas State University in 2010, Askey had criticized Mellen Press on his blog (a post he deleted shortly before the Press filed suit).[13] The Canadian Association of University Teachers and others condemned the press for what they called SLAPP lawsuits intended to curtail academic freedom.[14][15] Martha Reineke, a Professor of Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, started a petition demanding that the press drop the suits (garnering 2,691 names). 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".[16]

In 2013, the Press threatened legal action against The Society for Scholarly Publishing for hosting allegedly libelous blog posts and comments on The Scholarly Kitchen.[17] These posts were first removed and then restored without the comments which Mellen Press had found objectionable.[18][19]

Many of Mellen's successes in obtaining apologies, retractions, or damages were in England; prior to the Defamation Act 2013, English libel law was notoriously friendly to plaintiffs. The new Act includes defences of honest opinion, truth, and peer-reviewed statements in scientific or academic journals, as well as protections for website owners.[original research?]

Selected published works[edit]

The following titles from Mellen Press's 2016 catalog illustrate the topical breadth of its list:

  • Brenner, Rachel F. (1991), A. M. Klein: The Father of Canadian Jewish Literature, ISBN 978-0-88946-259-5.
  • Broers, Michael (1997), Napoleonic Imperialism and the Savoyard Monarchy, 1773–1821, ISBN 978-0-7734-8609-6.
  • Todd, Christopher (2000), Pierre Descaves: Témoin et Pionnier de la Radio, ISBN 978-0-7734-7734-6.
  • Fallon, Peter K. (2005), Printing, Literacy, and Education in 18th Century Ireland: Why the Irish Speak English, ISBN 978-0-7734-6033-1.
  • Tremblay, Florent (2009), A Medieval English-Latin Dictionary: Based on a Set of Unpublished 15th Century Manuscripts, ISBN 978-0-7734-4783-7.
  • Tolstoy, Nikolai (2009), The Oldest British Prose Literature: The Compilation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, ISBN 978-0-7734-4710-3.
  • Halbert, Herbert (2010), Folk Tales, Tall Tales, Trickster Tales, and Legends of the Supernatural from the Pinelands of New Jersey, ISBN 978-0-7734-1323-8.
  • Russell, Dennis E. (2011), The Portrayal of Social Catastrophe in the German-language Films of Austrian Filmmaker Michael Haneke, ISBN 978-0-7734-1490-7.
  • Jennings, Neil (2012), A Biography of Samuel Chappuzeau, ISBN 978-0-7734-2644-3.
  • Lynch, Audrey L. (2012), Garth Jeffers Recalls his Father, Robinson Jeffers: Recollections of a Poet's Son, ISBN 978-0-7734-2938-3.


  1. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press Contact Details". Edwin Mellen Press. 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  2. ^ "Home page". Edwin Mellen Press. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  3. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press". Edwin Mellen Press. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-11-07. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  4. ^ a b New, Jake (April 15, 2013). "Herbert Richardson v. the World". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  5. ^ "Explaining S4S Publishing". herbertwarrenrichardson.com. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Edwin Mellen Press". The Edwin Mellen Press - Academic Publishers. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "The Edwin Mellen Press". The Edwin Mellen Press - Academic Publishers. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  8. ^ 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.T: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0773454462.
  9. ^ Reid, Jr., Paul H. (2006). The Edwin Mellen Press Versus Lingua Franca. ISBN 0773454462.
  10. ^ Westhues, Kenneth (2006). The Envy of Excellence: Administrative Mobbing of High-Achieving Professors. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 325. ISBN 9780773459793.
  11. ^ Doughty, Sophie (November 18, 2009). "Newcastle University academic pays up for libelous blog". The Journal.
  12. ^ "Newcastle University academic apologises over libel blog". The Northern Echo. 17 November 2009.
  13. ^ The Edwin Mellen Press vs. Dale Askey and McMaster University (Ontario Superior Court 2012).Text
  14. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (February 8, 2013). "Price of a Bad Review". Inside Higher Ed.
  15. ^ New, Jake (February 8, 2013). "Edwin Mellen Press Sues University Librarian for Libel". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  16. ^ Fabris, Casey (February 5, 2015). "Librarian Says Academic Press Has Settled Lingering Lawsuit Against Him". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  17. ^ Anderson, Kent (March 29, 2013). "Posts Removed Because We've Received Letters From Edwin Mellen Press' Attorney". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  18. ^ Price, Gary. "The Scholarly Kitchen Removes Posts Re: Edwin Mellen Publishers, Following Letter from Lawyer". InfoDocket. Library Journal. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  19. ^ Meyer, Carol Anne. "SSP Board Decides to Reinstate Removed Posts". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved April 4, 2013.

External links[edit]