In "Reflections on University Press Publishing," a former University of Toronto Press executive examines the current state of university presses.
Here's an excerpt:
As the revenue from sales of books decreases, there has been a corresponding increase in the need for subventions. The average monetary loss from publication of a scholarly book is in the range of $10,000-$12,000—defined as the shortfall between anticipated revenue and all costs, including all fixed and variable costs. In Canada, the usual subvention for an academic book (provided by the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program) is $8000. Thus there is a need for $2000-$4000 in additional subvention for each book published. Some scholarly publishers are able to find this money from within their own operation—usually from private endowments. Frequently, publishers are asking authors to subsidize their own books—either from research funds or, in some cases, from their own pockets. In some cases, publishers are forced to ask authors to provide books in camera ready form—effectively becoming their own typesetters—to subsidize this cost.