I got the same letter from the MLA and wondered about some of these same questions. As a guy who’s written a poor-to-fair scholarly book just so he could get tenure, a book that hasn’t been read by anybody but the poor bastards listed on the “Acknowledgements” page (current Amazon.com sales ranking: 695,858), I can honestly say that not too many people would miss the scholarly monograph. Correction–we wouldn’t be worse off without most scholarly monographs. I think there are much better ways to determine tenure decisions other than weighing publishing accomplishments on some arbitrary scale, especially considering the fact that recent hires, say, within the last 8 to 10 years are facing much steeper publishing requirements than our senior colleagues. However, in most departments, these senior colleagues are the ones making tenure and retention decisions. Instead of writing more books, we should invite people into our classrooms, so they can watch us teach.