The idea for the EMS to engage in publishing activities is probably almost as old as the society itself. It resulted, most notably, in the creation of the JEMS, currently published by Springer-Verlag, now member of the BertelsmannSpringer group, on behalf of the EMS, in 1999. Just about the same time the first serious plans emerged to run a commercially operating publishing house. Among the available options, including the taking over of an independent publisher or combining the efforts of member society publishers, the EMS eventually decided to launch their own enterprise. Although this possibility has been hinted at in the EMS Newsletter before, the intention was first communicated to a large audience by the president, Rolf Jeltsch, in his speech at the closing ceremony of the ECM in Barcelona, in July 2000. In the interim, much energy has been spent on the legal aspects of the undertaking, hopefully culminating in the registration of the European Mathematical Foundation, the governing body of the EMS publishing house, with the Swiss chamber of commerce in the fall of this year.
It is obvious that an increasing proportion of the mathematical community is dissatisfied with the mathematical publishing industry. Before all, it is the pricing policy of some large and important commercial publishers that is under debate, and there is a general feeling that they rather hinder the dissemination of mathematical knowledge than foster it. Be that as it may, there is certainly no denying that a present in every company the order of the day is to meet the short-term (short-sighted?) targets, most often at the expense of everything else. Financial considerations are clearly given first priority, editorial matters and publishing aspects rank second. One of the aims of the EMS publishing house is to reverse that order. The needs of the community are foremost in our minds, admittedly with the obligation to run an economically sound operation.
I do not share the view that scientific information should be entirely free. To quote John Ewing of the AMS, nothing is for free, the question is only who is paying. The collection, editing and publishing of scientific contents will always entail labour that belongs into the hands of professionals rather than scientists who should be able to devote themselves to research and teaching. Such a sharing of responsibilities is effective and in the interest of us all. Rather than depending on external funding, volunteers and on direct or indirect support from University institutions we believe that financial independence is the best option for long- term sustainability. In other words, our publications will not be free, but available for minimal prices possible under the market conditions. Everything spent on them will be fully reinvested in the publishing house. With the purchase of a book or the subscription of a journal you will support an endeavor that has your interests in mind. No payments are made to shareholders, and any profits have to be used on aims set down in the statutes of the Foundation.
We expect the first publications of the EMS to appear under their own name by the beginning of 2004, possibly earlier. We intend to publish first-quality peer-reviewed journals and books on all academic levels and from all fields of mathematics, emphatically including applied mathematics. Proposals are welcome and should be submitted to the address below. We appeal to all mathematicians to support our effort by publishing with us, and by endorsing the subscription of our journals and purchase of our books by the library of your home institution. We promise to pay back your confidence with the best possible service and quality.
Although the EMF is legally a separate structure from the EMS, the statutes and bylaws of the foundation ensure the decisive influence of the EMS through the participation of committee members in the board of trustees. Moreover, the editorial boards of our journals and book series will consist of mathematicians approved by and sympathetic with the aims of the EMS.
You will be informed on the progress of our plans irregularly in the EMS Newsletter. Apart from the creation of their own publishing house, the EMS continues to offer a large and well maintained collection of non-commercial journals and books on EMIS, the European Mathematics Information Service.