Want to learn to cook like Chef Daniel Orr? Join him at Bloomingdale's on 59th St. in New York City July 11 at 4:00 p.m. as he demonstrates how to cook some of the delicious recipes from his latest cookbook, Paradise Kitchen. For more information, visit Bloomingdale's event calendar.
Charlene Regester, author of African American Actresses, will be on North Carolina Bookwatch Friday, July 8 at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 10 at 5 p.m. (repeat episode). According to its website, North Carolina Bookwatch highlights "the best and brightest southern scribes," focusing on their work, their lives, and the impact North Carolina has had on these authors.
Plenary 4: Press, Parent, Library fit tightly within the context of Plenary 3, on the crisis in the humanities, as if to say: we’re all in this thing together. Earlier in the meeting, we were selling to libraries. Here we were reminded of how we also live alongside them within the larger university community—invited to consider the overlaps, inter-dependence, and inherent benefits.
Ann J. Wolpert, director of libraries at MIT, gave us a candid view of life from within the university budget—as a fully-subsidized unit (what the university calls a cost center). A unique position among our subject trio—presses and parent institutions have considerable recourse to extramural funding and multiple revenue streams. Amid fiscal pressures on us all, libraries are often caught in the resulting crossfire of “spend less!” and “buy more!”
Hence, their pleas of "we’d like to buy more…with less" began to make sense. One fact clearly delivered: the budgets of old that allowed for nigh-limitless book buying from their favorite university presses were long gone, never to return. A not unfair takeaway: We will have to fish new waters, in addition to these, to reach sales figures of old.
Wolpert pointed out that in the campus ecosystem, “faculty endure.” They were doing the best they could to integrate themselves in the faculty’s research life cycles in support of the greater mission of the parent institution and advised university presses to do the same.
Daniel Greenstein, (Vice Provost, Academic Planning, Programs, and Coordination at University of California, Office of the President) spoke to the financial pressures on universities today as well, reinforcing much of what Wolpert said. He closed, however, with a hopeful vision for the future, wherein universities might successfully safeguard the health and vitality of their presses by drawing them within the scope of their overall brand. The university press would be seen not as complementing the parent’s brand—as we so clearly do and in so many ways—but rather as completing it.
Discussing ways in which we three (press, parent, library) could improve our collective self-awareness, as a single, strategically-cohesive community, Plenary 4 seemed to be a natural outgrowth of MaryKatherine Calloway’s speech at lunchtime—wherein Calloway noted we university presses have been “keeping our heads down” too long within our respective communities. The plenary also dovetailed with the breakout session to follow, Presses Under Pressure: Best Governance Practices for University Presses, wherein directors added to their collective toolkits for working effectively with their boards, public relations experts, independent advisors, and campus administrations to improve outcomes and options for their presses.
The gestalt of the afternoon: optimism leading into the meeting carried forth into plans for action.
"[The editors bring] together some of the very best of the new generation of scholars working on Berber issues from a variety of perspectives ... North Africanists and all those interested in the nexus between ethnicity, culture, politics, and history, will drive much benefit and pleasure from this elegant and informed volume." —H-Africa
"[The author] shows empathy for the studied people throughout the book and much understanding of how Romanian people feel and think. [He] gives a voice to the Romanian working class and lets them speak for themselves." —H-SAE
Given everything we’re facing, this session was the most exciting, informative, helpful, and hope-filled of the talks I attended (though I hear How Good Is Your MetaData was a close second). If you only listen to one section of the AAUP recordings and/or only get to pick an attendee’s brain for a few minutes, make sure it’s on this session.
Colin Robinson, founder of OR Books, showcased a thriving new business model for us—OR Books’ approach to market. Joe Esposito of Portable CEO Consulting analyzed the industry from the university press perspective and gave us a breakdown of what we will need to look for in our new business model components. And Bob Stein, founder and co-director of the Institute of the Future of the Book, rolled out what was basically a concept car of a new book format, calling it "the Social Book." Probably not breaking any news here, but Greg Britton, Johns Hopkins editorial director and chair for this panel, is an evil genius—what a lineup!
First, OR Books: The Movie is required viewing. According OR Books founders, OR Books has reached the point of “no returns.” (Their pun, not mine) They have no warehouse and no inventory; they do only POD and e-pub.
Strategy is about tradeoffs. This tradeoff allows them to shift monies that traditional publishers (we) spend on distribution 100% over to promoting authors and titles, driving greater sales with each dollar spent.
The masterstroke? OR Books works with Amazon as an independent vendor, filling orders themselves. Hence, the model of POD & e-pub products shipping straight from OR Books is preserved, no monies are spent on moving inventory between warehouses, and Amazon’s reach is put entirely at the publishers’ disposal—with the least profits given away in the bargain. Schmart.
The business model component of a renegotiated relationship with Amazon seems neatly excisable and implementable. I wonder how many university presses will be moving in this direction in the coming months?
Joe Esposito—what can I say? Esposito held class. Check out his slides, and get the audio. Esposito stressed the need for hybridized approaches. One solution will not cure all of our ills. Also stressed: we are not-for-profits in a commercial arena. With this comes drawbacks and advantages—we will have to be mindful of both. Last, we have major players reshaping the industry in their favor—namely, Amazon, Wiley, SAGE, et al. And we are overly dependent on one sales channel—Amazon. The combination is a killer. Solutions we seek will have to reshape the industry in our favor AND decrease our dependence on Amazon.
The kicker was Bob Stein giving us a live demonstration of his "Social Book." For those familiar with The Institute for the Future of the Book, what we saw looked to be the next evolution of Commentpress. So, I'm going to call it Socialbook from here on out. Socialbook brings a fixed text into a dialogic space wherein readers can select and comment on passages. As with Commentpress, users work in the margins rather than scrolling "away down below" like traditional blog space, but in Socialbook the text breaks out into chapters intuitively with tabs, and users can work in real time together; i.e., they can occupy the live critical space as a group.
The new coordination(s) of space, text, users, and time, will have clear applications in academic settings (including but not limited to): peer review, book clubs, distance learning, homework, lectures, and author events. Stein said that practical applications for much of what they are working on at the Institute may not hit the mainstream for decades—possibly a century. However, aspects of concept cars usually find their way into production models within a few seasons. We may be lining up Socialbook events sooner than he thinks.
This was a good day in publishing.
Why is Britton an evil genius? Look back at the lineup: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Schmart.
"[This book] is at once a strange and exciting work worthy of attention... [I]t will be of particular interest to those already steeped in the various mutations of the history of African film and criticism." —Film International
"[An] inspiring study ... Martin demonstrates again that she is a master at combining in-depth grass-roots histories with clear and provocative discussions of the theoretical literature." —African Studies Review
We are pleased to announce that we have joined Books at JSTOR, an initiative that will add more than 20,000 ebooks to one of the most widely used and well-known online academic resources in the world.
Books at JSTOR now has 22 publisher partners and expects to launch with close to 30 presses. The first books will be available at JSTOR beginning in June 2012. All books will be preserved in Portico, the leading digital preservation service for the scholarly community. For more information, please read the press release from Books at JSTOR.