After a successful first outing in 2015, Academic Book Week returned last week with more than twenty events, both ‘real’ and online, and a range of exhibitions, competitions, and discount offers across the country. From London to Stirling, and Birmingham to Bangor, publishers, universities, and bookshops celebrated the importance of the academic book to British life. The British Library hosted several events, bringing together publishers, researchers, and start-ups for a workshop on new tools in academic publishing, and sharing innovative work from the university presses at UCL and Cambridge. In Oxford, the London Book Fair’s Tech Tuesday considered what the future might hold for the sector, while online, a Twitter debate featuring representatives from Digital Science, the Royal Armouries, and Glasstree asked whether self-publishing might play a part in that future.
At the forefront of this year’s Academic Book Week, as in 2015, was a poll: this time, people were asked to choose a winner from the Twenty Academic Books that Shaped Modern Britain. From an illustrious and wide-ranging shortlist that included Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, and E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, the public chose John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. The full shortlist can be found on the Academic Book Week website, along with a brief introduction to each title – an interesting reading project for an ambitious book group in 2017, perhaps?
It’s been a busy few weeks for Cambridge University Press, which announced a new senior vice president for academic publishing in the Americas. Brigitte Shull, formerly vice president for Management, Business, Economics, and Political Science publishing at Springer Nature, will report to Academic MD Mandy Hill. Cambridge has also launched a new discoverability initiative, updating the metadata for more than 24,000 titles to improve the quality of its MARC records and so increase satisfaction amongst librarians and users.
Liverpool University Press has launched the first of two innovative collaborations with the University of Liverpool Library. Using Primary Sources is an Open Access teaching and study resource produced in partnership with the university’s Department of History, and funded by UK not-for-profit educational services provider JISC. Combining rare archival source materials with peer-reviewed chapters from leading academics, the project exemplifies the growing trend for deeper partnerships between university presses and their parent institutions. Liverpool University Press has also partnered with Ubiquity Press to host another of its projects, Modern Languages Open, launched in October 2014 as a platform for the open access publication of research across the sector.
The announcement of the shortlists for the 2017 IPG Awards has seen a hat-trick of nominations for social and behavioural sciences publisher Jessica Kingsley Publishers, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. The London-based press is listed not only for the ProQuest Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year, alongside Edward Elgar Publishing, Cambridge University Press, and SAGE, but also for the Nielsen Digital Marketing Award, and the Alison Morrison Diversity Award, in recognition of a list that seeks to promote inclusion and normalise people’s differences. In the first year of the IPG Awards, back in 2007, Kingsley took home two titles – Academic and Professional Publisher and overall Independent Publisher of the Year. In its anniversary year, could it go one better? We’ll find out on February 9th, at the annual IPG Spring Conference.
Another publisher celebrating an anniversary is Emerald, which has marked the occasion with a fresh identity, a new corporate structure and a series of new websites. The new Emerald Group brand will incorporate all the company’s existing businesses and any future acquisitions, while the publishing business Emerald Group Publishing will become Emerald Publishing. A special Emerald at 50 website highlights the publisher’s achievements over its first fifty years, and shares its fifty most influential articles, from 1967 predictions of the future of computing to last year’s investigations into teacher involvement in curriculum development.
Two interesting developments across the Atlantic may have implications for UK academic publishers. JSTOR has published a white paper on Reimagining the Digital Monograph, asking how the digital experience and value of the long-form scholarly argument can be improved, while the Modern Languages Association has launched Humanities Commons, a not-for-profit platform for networked scholarly communication providing a repository for papers, plus social networking, collaboration and blogging tools. MLA Director of Scholarly Communication discusses the thinking behind the site in an interview with the Scholarly Kitchen.
Alastair Horne writes our Academic Newsletter.