Editorial board of “Journal of K-Theory” on strike, demanding Tony Bak hands over the journal to the K-Theory foundation.

Text of the announcement below:

Dear Colleagues,

We the undersigned announce that, as of today 15 September 2014, we’re starting an indefinite strike. We will decline all papers submitted to us at the Journal of K-Theory.

Our demand is that, as promised in 2007-08, Bak’s family company (ISOPP) hand over the ownership of the journal to the K-Theory Foundation (KTF). The handover must be unconditional, free of charge and cover all the back issues.

The remaining editors are cordially invited to join us.

 Yours Sincerely,
Paul Balmer, Spencer Bloch, Gunnar Carlsson, Guillermo Cortinas, Eric Friedlander, Max Karoubi, Gennadi Kasparov, Alexander Merkurjev, Amnon Neeman, Jonathan Rosenberg, Marco Schlichting, Andrei Suslin, Vladimir Voevodsky, Charles Weibel, Guoliang Yu
More details to follow!

11 thoughts on “Editorial board of “Journal of K-Theory” on strike, demanding Tony Bak hands over the journal to the K-Theory foundation.

  1. Amnon Neeman (one of the signatory editors) passed this along to me. There are a few more details here: https://plus.google.com/+ScottMorrison0/posts/PQbSmRvmDAe

    For context, in round numbers the Journal of K-Theory has published about 300 papers, and received (in very round numbers) something like half a million dollars in subscription income, since starting in 2007-2008. (In fact, I think these numbers _underestimate_ the per article income.)

    The editors say they were unaware until quite recently just how much of this money was going to ISOPP (Bak’s company). Quoting Amnon:

    So according to the old formula Bak would have expected to receive about 73,000 to 74,000 pounds this year. To be completely fair, CUP would have paid a vendor doing the same job between 20,000 and 25,000 [so we hear from Roger Astley by way of Chuck]. So Bak is overcharging by about 50,000 pounds.

  2. In the event that everything is sorted out, the K-theory Foundation owns the journal etc, would we expect the subscription price to fall by 50-70%? If such details cannot be made public due to ongoing negotiations, then, well… But I would hope this is something that is on the table.

  3. The Journal of K-theory was launched at a meeting in Belfast in 2007.
    At the time I compared it to an earlier launch in Belfast – that of the Titanic. For the background to the 2007 K-theory / Journal of K-theory transition see
    The problem had started a few years earlier with an undeclared strike of Tony Bak as Managing Editor of K-theory, holding back papers from the publishers. At least the current strike of the editors of the Journal of K-theory is declared, so will not damage authors

  4. The most relevant passages from Lueck’s document, quoting from the open letter signed by the whole Journal of K-theory editorial board, are this:

    “The title of JKT is currently owned by a private company [DR: owned at least partly by Bak]. This situation is only meant as a temporary solution to restart publication of K-Theory articles as soon as possible. It is the Board’s intention to create a non-profit academic foundation and to transfer ownership of JKT to this foundation, as soon as possible, but no later than by the end of 2009, a delay justified by many practical considerations”

    and this:

    “We trust in Prof. Bak’s leadership for the launching of JKT and forming, together with the editorial board, the foundation to house the Journal. The statutes of the foundation will provide democratic rules governing the future course and development of the journal, including the election of the managing team.”

    It is unfortunate this timeline wasn’t adhered to.

  5. This just received on the ALGTOP-L mailing list:

    Dear Colleagues,

    The time has come to advise your librarians to cancel the subscription to the Journal of K-Theory. The precious money could be better spent elsewhere.

    As you know the journal is going through a crisis. The most recent development is that the Bak family has written to Cambridge University Press informing them that they are under a contractual obligation to keep publishing the journal through the end of 2017, whether they like it or not. I haven’t seen the contract in question, not have I seen the letter from the Bak family to Cambridge University Press, hence I cannot comment on the legal merits of the case. The Baks evidently feel confident, Tony Bak has accepted at least one paper for the 2015 edition of the journal without clearing it with any of the other editors.

    The Baks might be right, Cambridge University Press might have no choice but to continue publishing the journal. But the vast majority of the editors will be walking out and the scientific standards of the journal are bound to plummet. It would be a waste of money to continue subscribing.

    Yours, Amnon

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