Our contributors are simply amazing. They are what make a reference publishing business possible, and they often make it immensely satisfying. Oddly enough, publishers seldom sing their authors; I’ve known many in-house editors (and publishers) who think they deserve all the credit. They edit and reedit scholars’ work to ensure that it bears the mark of the publishing company, and not the expert. I have heard scholars on the subject, too, angry about the way their work has been mangled. One leading historian told me he hadn’t wanted his name attached to stuff he had (originally) written, because it was such a mess by the time the (eminent) publishing company got through with it.
We are a tiny company, with scant resources, and we don’t do all that we should or hope to do. But our relations with contributors are generally good, and often warm and fruitful and enduring. Nothing lifts my spirits like an email from a contributor saying something like this, which came from a contributor, Roger Hanson, to our 2003 Encyclopedia of Crime & Punishment: “Thank you for the splendid update on the the pioneering efforts made by Berkshire. Bravo, bravo bravo.” Who could ask for more?
Our authors provide us with new perspectives all the time, not only writing from their own countries but often dropping us a line as they travel. Roger Hanson, for example, was the second person to write to me from Afghanistan recently.