A busy month for Britain’s oldest – and newest! – university presses.
The past two years have seen an unexpected renaissance for university presses across the UK, with the launch of presses at UCL, Westminster, and Goldsmiths in London; Cardiff in Wales, and the collaborative White Rose Press in Yorkshire. Last month saw the announcement of another new press, as Policy Press – which recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary, and was this year named the IPG/Frankfurt Book Fair Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year – has partnered with the University of Bristol to form the University of Bristol Press (UBP). Policy Press will retain its focus on social policy as an imprint within the new press, continuing to work for social change. The new press, meanwhile, will publish in a wider range of subject areas, and is already advertising for three new commissioning editors, ahead of its formal launch in December.
From Britain’s newest university press to its oldest: Cambridge University Press has collaborated with the Kadas Prize Foundation and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) to announce the Nine Dots Prize, which seeks ‘to reward original thinking in response to contemporary societal issues’. Entrants are asked to answer the question ‘Are digital technologies making politics impossible?’ in under 3,000 words, with the winner receiving $100,000 to write a book elucidating their ideas, to be published by Cambridge University Press. Entries must be submitted by 31st January 2017, with the winner to be announced in May.
Britain’s second oldest academic publisher, Oxford, has also been in the news. The choice of ‘post-truth’ as the Oxford English Dictionaries Word of 2016 marked a return to a more conventionally recognisable word as winner, after the controversial decision to pick an emoji last year; other contenders included ‘alt-right’, ‘Brexiteer’, and ‘adulting’. Meanwhile, the decision to credit Christopher Marlowe as the co-author of Shakespeare’s three plays about Henry VI – taken on the basis of computerised textual analysis and the judgment of an international team of academics – garnered huge amounts of publicity for the launch last month of the four-volume New Oxford Shakespeare.
Meanwhile, Britain’s third oldest university press, Liverpool, has announced a partnership with ReadCube. The deal will make the press’s 26,000 journal articles discoverable across ReadCube reading portals, and add enhancements including hyperlinked in-line citations and Altmetrics.
In France, the long-established academic publisher Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) – which earlier this year opened a flagship print-on-demand store near Paris’s Sorbonne – has announced an alliance with Belin Editions which will see the two publishers integrated into a new group under the title Humensis, while retaining their editorial independence. The alliance will begin on December 1st.
Academic publishing has not gone unnoticed on the shortlists for this year’s FutureBook awards; both SAGE and Cambridge University Press have been shortlisted for the Platform of the Year (Reference/Education) category. The winners will be announced at the FutureBook conference on December 2nd.
The latest updates from industry bodies have brought mixed news for academic publishers. The Association of American Publishers reported that university press sales were down 1.7% for the first six months of 2016, compared to the previous year, while the UK’s Publishers Association reported a rise of 9% in digital revenues for academic and professional, against a fall of 7% for digital across the wider industry.
Alastair Horne writes our Academic Newsletter.