In the "real" world of material production, financial capital tends to accrue to those who own the means of re-production. Publishers, printers, and authors share in a revenue stream that ultimately depends on the end-user (book or journal consumer), who is willing to buy a commodity. Publishing houses are generally of two types and target two distinct groups: trade and scholarly audiences. Authors of trade publications have "direct financial remuneration in mind from the outset." By contrast, academic authors want to maximize their distribution, often joking that "they would pay people to read their articles" (Ginsparg 4).
While business considerations primarily drive trade publications, intellectual value, often determined by a peer review process, drives scholarly publications. A non-profit association publisher, for example, or a university press, may find it possible to publish a book, which intellectually pushes the field. Such publishing houses, unlike commercial publishers, would not expect gross economic returns on the investment of time and resources (human and otherwise) required to produce and edit the book. Although their financial capital would not increase, the cultural capital--intellectual value they provide to academics--might increase significantly. In fact, such publishers often gain prestige among scholars, which in turn enhances the reputation of the author. However, those scholars who value innovative print texts may not have the financial capital or borrowing resources to attain them. (Some ILL services are painfully slow or cannot obtain sources at all from, even from regional libraries.) Therefore, access may only accrue to those scholars in prestigious institutions or a higher economic class. Other texts, with significant intellectual value, may be unsuitable for a particular journal, stylistically violate convention, or remain "too raw" for print publication. In the print world, these works, which potentially add to our cultural capital, would be lost.
These are complicated issues because innovative or paradigmatic work may have limited though significant value (in terms of distribution and financial return) and, at the same time, upset social relations. For example, Bernard Hibbits, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, proposes a model for law reviews that works to subvert the author/publisher relationship with his idea of self-publishing on the WWW. This virtual "raw archive," modeled on the e-print archives we discuss, promises "a superior form of scholarly communication," which will emerge and signal necessary educational reform. The rise of e-journals (including a broad range of texts that are esoteric, traditional, doctrinal, complex, and impolitic) will ultimately dismantle hierarchies among law reviews (and possibly their home institutions). Thus, Hibbits sees the WWW as a desanctified space, erasing boundaries, oppositions, temporal relations and hierarchies which "[i]nstitutions and practices have not yet dared to break down" (Foucault 23).
In reflecting on other related and "real" sites (such as law offices and universities), Hibbits challenges and critiques current law practices and offers some innovative solutions. He represents many practitioners who complain that law review journals are largely conservative, trendy, and reifying, creating hierarchies among law schools, professors, and students that may be unwarranted, unfair, and ultimately damaging to some (and over-praising of others). Furthermore, reputations and careers can be established based primarily on a student's involvement with the law review. This practice may be regrettable because student editors, responsible for selecting interdisciplinary, specialized, and doctrinal articles, neither have a broad enough knowledge of the field nor the necessary editing skills (Hibbits). Firms are more likely to hire editors of prestigious journals, which is ironic given that most law schools do little to educate attorneys in the actual practice of law. For Hibbits, the WWW functions as a heterotopian mirror that makes his location in the physical world, as he looks at (reflects upon) his institution or editors of the law review "at once absolutely real: connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there" (Foucault 24). By examining both sides of the mirror, Hibbits is able to "virtually" eliminate the old model while envisioning the new one.