In celebration of International Women's Day, we recognise our many journals with women at the helm - each of these journals has a woman on staff as the Editor-in-Chief or as a Managing Editor.
In celebration of International Women's Day, we recognise our many journals with women at the helm - each of these journals has a woman on staff as the Editor-in-Chief or as a Managing Editor.
|African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review||Africa Today||Aleph|
|Antisemitism Studies||Black Camera||Ethics & the Environment|
|Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies||The Global South|
|History & Memory||Indiana Theory Review|
|Journal of Modern Literature||Jewish Social Studies||Journal of World Philosophies|
|Prooftexts||Philosophy of Music Education Review||Research in African Literatures|
Bryan Furuness teaches at Butler University and is author of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson. In a guest blog post, Bryan gives his thoughts on encouraging and cultivating emerging authors.
By Bryan Furuness
IU Press asked me to write a post about an Indiana writer. "Sure!" I said, forgetting to mention that I am not great at following directions.
Instead of writing about a single Indiana author, I'd like to think about a bunch of Indiana writers you've never heard of, writers I've never heard of. Emerging writers.
This is as good a spot as any to say that the views expressed here are my own; they do not reflect the views of the press, etc.
What do I mean by "emerging?" According to the Indiana Authors Award, an emerging author is someone "who has published no more than two books."
Two books? Criminy. Look: If you have two books to your name, you done emerged.
Let's lower that bar. For the purposes of this post, I'll define an emerging writer as anyone serious enough to be working on a book-length project but has not yet published one.
A lot of Hoosiers fall under this designation. How do I know? I've seen them at the IU Writers' Conference, at the Gathering of Writers sponsored by the Writers Center of Indiana, at the Steel Pen Writers' Conference up in the region. I see them in the Butler MFA program in creative writing that grows every year. Empirical evidence abounds.
Why should you care about emerging writers? This is the talent pool, people. If you care about literature and you care about our state (and because you're reading a post on the IU Press blog, I'll assume that you do), then you should care deeply about nurturing this group that is writing the next generation of stories and poems and novels.
The problem is that we don't care. We don't nurture. What we do, in this state, is grab onto the coattails of front-runners.
A few years ago, I was at an Indiana Authors Award reception, where I watched John Green take home the top prize, which came with $10,000. Nothing against John Green—he seems like a deeply decent human and I am glad to count him as a Hoosier—but I walked away thinking, Why give him that award? Who did that help?
Part of the award's stated goal is to "[attract] greater attention to 'home-grown' literary greats," but did anyone really think they could do that for Green? The idea that the award would raise the profile of the guy who wrote the bestselling The Fault in Our Stars is laughable.
The money must have been nice, but it didn't make a bit of difference to Green's writing career. Time is the most important resource to a writer, and that money did not buy him a single second more of writing time than he had before.
So what was the point?
Maybe I'm being churlish here. Maybe the real point of an award is to say HEY WE THINK YOU ARE GREAT. But if you attach money to it, wouldn't it be nice if that money did some good? Otherwise, aren't you missing an opportunity to make an actual difference?
More on difference-making in a moment. First, another example of coattailing.
$10,000 seems like a lot until you put it up against $750,000. That's the amount of money the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is raising so they can move to nicer digs in downtown Indianapolis. The heart of the library's mission is to champion Vonnegut's legacy.
Vonnegut needs a champion like Oprah needs a publicist. If only Oprah could get her name out there!
On one hand, the Vonnegut Memorial Library is doing no harm and I should just shut up. On the other hand, I'm concerned about opportunity cost. Every dollar donated to the Library is a dollar that won't go to an organization that could nurture the next Vonnegut.
Also, consider the cost/benefit ratio of that $750,000. How much will that money really enhance Vonnegut's legacy? Will it make a difference in how he's viewed?
Probably about as much as the Indiana Authors Award lifted John Green's profile.
So why do we keep throwing ourselves at these frontrunners? My suspicion is that it has less to do with raising their profile, and much more to do with raising our own. Our state is taking selfies with Vonnegut and Green so that everyone will know we're with them. Later we'll probably drop their names loudly at the hotel bar. Which is actually kind of pathetic. Come on, Indiana. Show a little self-esteem.
But what would happen if we invested those literary dollars where they would actually make a difference?
As I mentioned earlier, time is the most important resource for a writer—and money can buy time in the form of childcare, or a retreat, or to allow someone to go from full-time to part-time employment. Money can pay for schooling or mentoring to hasten an emerging writer's development. Sometimes, it turns out, you can actually throw money at a problem.
Don't coddle the emerging writers, you might say. Ignore them! Hardship will weed out the weaklings, and the truly talented and dedicated ones will rise to the top as they always have. The strong will survive.
It's more likely that the privileged will survive. The ones who make it through the literary thresher won't necessarily be the ones with the most talent or the most interesting stories to tell; it will be the ones with means.
I have about a million other things to say on this subject, but this essay's already too long by Internet standards, so I'll bring my point home. Indiana, level the playing field. Let's support a diverse chorus of developing voices, so writing isn't just a game for the privileged. Let's celebrate our Greens and Vonneguts, but let's also invest in the next generation of luminaries. And if we don't have the time and energy and money to do all of this—if we have to make a hard choice—let's choose bootstraps over coattails.
IU Press, in conjunction with the Office of Scholarly Publishing and the IU Library, will host a fall series of workshops at the Scholars' Commons aimed at helping IU faculty, staff, and students navigate the world of academic publishing. This three-part workshop series is presented by book and journal publishing professionals and will cover the following topics:
How to Write a Book Proposal
This workshop is designed to address questions about approaching a publisher with your scholarly work. An experienced acquisitions editor will lead a discussion about how to size up publishers, preparing and submitting your book prospectus, honing your dissertation, and what to expect during the review process and beyond. With plenty of time for questions and conversation, this session will get you started on the road to publishing your first book.
In this workshop, IU faculty, student representatives from the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research, and staff from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education will discuss ways for undergraduates to get involved in research and publishing at IU. Campus resources and examples of successful student research projects will be shared. This will be an informal session with dedicated time for Q&A.
Last month, I had the privilege of attending the Association of American University Presses's annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, thanks to a Newcomer Grant from the AAUP and to IU Press for generously covering the rest of my travel expenses. I was honored to receive the grant and, having read all the blogs and notes from past attendees from the press, terribly excited at the opportunity!
The theme of the meeting, "Connect, Collaborate," resonated with me and with my own history at the press. Prior to becoming an employee, I gained intern experience in as many departments as I could, learning about marketing, production, design, and managing editorial, and bringing prior internship experience in acquisitions and rights. I believe both IUP and the greater AAUP are best served when staff reach out across departmental or press lines to broaden understanding of roles, to help colleagues, and to streamline workflows to meet the needs of all stakeholders, internal and external.
Once I arrived at the conference, I was thrilled to meet so many colleagues who embraced similar philosophies. I expected to gain fresh insights from the sessions, but I was completely unprepared for the intensely collegial atmosphere and the wonderful conversations that spanned all three days of the conference. I spoke in depth with recently hired publicists, press directors with over 25 years of service at AAUP institutions, scholars studying the act of publishing, and everyone in between, meeting colleagues representing presses from the UK to California.
Through the mentorship program, I connected with Jessica Ryan, managing editor at Duke University Press, who proved to be extremely helpful in orienting me to the conference and open to engaging in deep discussions about how our two presses tackle similar problems. I met a number of colleagues from the UK and Canada and was impressed by their OA programs and their positive, "can-do" approaches to tackling the funding difficulties of these programs.
I also had the opportunity to talk to several directors of other presses at length and to pose my favorite question: "What was your path to your current position?" which often has surprising and intriguing answers, from the more typical director with a long career of service in acquisitions or marketing to the director who jumped right in and started a (successful) small, open access press for his university after a career in corporate management. The insights these directors learned over their careers were often quite similar, despite their different paths, specifically the importance of: encouraging collaboration across departments, watching for opportunities to align the press with the home institution, and encouraging staff to pursue innovative projects.
I'm not going to try to compress two full days of sessions into one blog post, but I particularly enjoyed three sessions:
The first plenary session featured Vint Cerf, an American internet pioneer who is recognized as one of the fathers of the Internet (You can watch the full session online). He explained that although we may feel like our digital age is making the preservation of content easy, current methods of digital storage are actually less like to survive than paper or papyrus artifacts (this is in part due to the rapid rate of development, which quickly makes software and hardware obsolete).
He emphasized that we do not need to return to keeping paper copies, but that we need to devote resources to developing technology and standards to make long-term preservation feasible for all. The current preservation of digital artifacts requires several key pieces: the original file, the software to run the file, the operating system to run the software, and hardware that can run the operating system. Assuming you have the capabilities to open the file, how do you find the relevant file in a massive electronic repository? For example, consider how difficult it can be to find an email from five months ago (or ten years ago!). Once you have the capabilities to archive electronic data, who decides which files should be preserved in the repository and which can be "recycled"?
Governments, foundations, content producers, publishers, and technology innovators will have to work together to develop a solution and to fund the implementation, but progress is being made. One team is developing a "digital x-ray" that can scan a computer running the operating system, the software application, and the digital object and then emulate all the pieces needed to open the archived object.
The Open Access Monograph panel was particularly interesting, since panelists came from university presses, libraries, and Project MUSE and engaged in a spirited discussion with the audience. The panelists emphasized that:
Several presses jumped in during the discussion to note that their open access models are successful now (and some claimed profitable). Instead of selling 20–60 copies of a backlist book in a year, one press had 1,500 open access downloads, and a press from Germany mentioned that their open access program was generating more sales than they had predicted. Outside of the panel, I spoke in depth with colleagues from presses in Canada and the UK who agreed that open access could be financially viable through a combination of home institution, library, and government support, a print-on-demand sales component, and the development of new value-added services for authors and researchers.
Two areas that remain a bit sticky for open access programs are discoverability and the perceptions of scholars, departments, and tenure committees. Although many libraries express support for open access, they admitted that they are have trouble getting open access materials into their catalogs and databases for scholars to find. However, one press colleague emphasized that "it is the publisher's job to make sure their content is discoverable," and another pointed out that open content creates relatability and discussion through deep linking, which will ultimately facilitate the discovery process.
Although a few attendees felt that most tenure committees don't have a problem with open access (claiming that only individual departments and faculty members still have negative perceptions of open access), everyone seemed to agree that education will be a key component of an open access program and that it is crucial for presses to demonstrate that their open access programs are not "second tier" to their "standard" programs. By continuing the university press communities' long history of rigor and excellence in the open access sphere, tenure committees will be able to trust that an open access monograph has experienced the same level of scrutiny and refinement as any other.
Finally, the Social Media/Web 2.0 collaboration lab was also a fantastic opportunity. It was a bit of a gamble, since the session description suggested that attendees be marketing staff or marketing interns, but as I hoped, my marketing background combined with a two-year focus on the managing editorial/EDP side allowed me to collaborate with marketers and publicists by building on their ideas and suggesting new opportunities that might not be as easily apparent from the "trenches."
The overarching "problem" my discussion group focused on was how marketers and publicists could get in touch with journalists to suggest relevant scholars and books that could open up trending news beyond black and white talking points. Tip sheets and emails from individual staff members could quickly be buried in a journalist's email, and collaborations between presses might not be nimble enough to provide relevant information about trending topics to many different journalists.
Our solution is to collaborate to develop a Twitter hashtag where Press staff and authors can tweet about scholars and books that focus on trending topics. As the hashtag gains critical mass, journalists would be able to quickly skim for topics they are writing about. The best aspect of the solution is that anyone—author, acquiring editor, marketing manager, designer—who spots the relevancy of a book or scholar to a trending topic would be able to contribute toward publicizing it. Of course, it's not a perfect solution and still has plenty of bugs to work out (on the most basic level, what kind of short, pithy hashtag would encompass "relevant scholarship on trending topics from university presses and sound scholars"?), but I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues to flesh it out into a real solution.
Another unexpectedly wonderful aspect of the conference was the flood of tweets pouring out of every session. I "live-tweeted" some of the sessions I attended, but I also enjoyed focusing on listening and engaging with an individual session while having the opportunity to skim the Twitter feed afterwards for key tidbits from the other sessions. If you're interested in quick highlights from any of the sessions, I recommend skimming the #AAUP15 channel on Twitter, reviewing the AAUP15 Wiki, and watching some of the slideshow presentations from the meeting. And of course, if you haven't been (or if you have), considering attending AAUP 2016 in Philadelphia!
The Internet—and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—to the Rescue
University presses have been devoting considerable brain power to sources of funding, workflow efficiencies, and technological shifts for some time, and fortunately they are joined in that venture by others who are interested in preserving and promoting scholarship, including libraries and places like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. The Mellon Foundation has recently jumped in with full force by giving substantial capacity-building grants to nine university presses—one of these went to the UC Press to support technology and development of the Luminos monograph program and a California Digital Library faculty publishing portal called eScholarship. The goal of these grants is to help university presses develop open source platforms and new workflows to sustainably produce open access, media-rich, born-digital scholarship. There were brief presentations of these initiatives at the AAUP, but there are more in-depth summaries available at the AAUP website. The many routes to this goal funded by the capacity-building grants include distributed subsidies and author fees, as discussed above; workflow and content management systems to increase efficiency and decrease cost; technology for incorporating interactivity and new media; integration of OA content into Project MUSE to improve marketability and searchability; inter-press collaboration to decrease cost for outsourced processes; lowering costs and barriers to access for art and architectural images; enrichment of content to do things like measure reader engagement; and improving peer-review processes and publication standards for digital monographs. Technology and results will be shared in the scholarly publishing community and particularly among university presses.
Besides the University of California Press's Luminos program, the only Mellon-funded initiative discussed in detail in the sessions I attended was the Manifold Scholarship project in development at the University of Minnesota Press. Like the Luminos program, Manifold seeks to put monographs on the web quickly and with low cost to the press, but with a bit of a twist: the entire publication process, including critique and revision, will be not only open access, but linked, iterative, interactive, and perpetually refinable. It has the potential and intention to include critique, social media links, publication history, and commentary. There will be options for traditional print books, siloed content (non–open access e-books), and less interactive, openly engaged versions of the OA monograph available, but University of Minnesota Press Operations and Business Development Manager Susan Doerr estimates that 10 percent of academics will jump at the chance to share the growth and refinement of their work on the internet. Manifold's digital versions have the potential to evolve as new findings come to light, abandoning the characterization of the e-book as "a frozen web page." Like Luminos, Manifold Scholarship has a mandate to make open-source code available to other scholars and presses.
Format Fragmentations and Convergences
As a project manager in an Editorial, Design, and Production (EDP) department, I am charged with making books manifest themselves phsycially. The internet, the Mellon grants, and even the far-off-seeming idea of digital vellum give us the illusion that we can transform the beautifully designed books we've been making into beautifully designed e-books that we can click on and start reading. We can push a button in InDesign and export to digital formats and presto change-o!—we have an e-book. We can upload to the web and put the cover on Amazon and start selling copies, correct?
This is very far from the truth, I'm afraid. My first four hours at the AAUP meeting were spent reviewing in daunting detail the many pitfalls of trying to convert books to digital content in a variety of formats and across 17 different types of devices-of-the-moment. The take-away message from the highly skilled presenter, Laura Brady, is that the better the design of the book, the more problems you will have converting it to an e-book. If you've managed to do this once with an acceptable outcome, try to export your text to that template. By the way, formats, it will not surprise you to learn, are constantly changing. Change to EPUB 3 now (and presumably EPUB 4 or EPUB WEB when it appears), as quickly as you are able.
In the meantime, the beautiful layout you've worked so hard on in InDesign may not be recognizable in your e-book. Pictures will float away from their captions, hidden codes will emerge, text will disappear in night mode, and it's possible that your table of contents will also migrate to the back of the book. Further, the most important things you can add to your e-book—navigation, internal links and structure, page lists to cross reference with the print version, metadata, and accessibility for the print impaired—have no corollaries in your print book. No reader, wisely advised Brady, has ever complained about too much navigation in an e-book. I think of the fade I feel reading e-books and how lost I am without the little bookmark arrow and nod my head in agreement. But by the time you've "fixed" your print book by adding all these features and deleting all the "span soup" in the InDesign files, you'll have two different versions of the book that can't be reverse translated. And we all wonder who can afford to hire Brady. The speculation is "commercial publishers."
In the next session we learned about how and where to incorporate XML coding into what we do. If we adopt XML-first workflows, the promise is that we will be able to create content that might be more amenable to conversion to multiple formats, including formats that have not-yet been developed. It's a lot of work, the panelists seemed to feel, which people wouldn't mind doing if it got them increased sales or improved schedules. That doesn't seem to be happening to a significant degree. Jennifer Comeau, assistant director and EDP manager at the University of Illinois Press, talked about a slow rollout toward digital journal content, but emphasized the low payoff was leading to morale problems with an XML-first workflow: blurbers don't want to read e-books, it's more quality assurance work for staff, and so far combining and repurposing has not met a significant market need. Conversion of backlist content may be a good idea in terms of archiving, but while everyone seems to want to move to XML, there's not yet a clear incentive for doing so.
Bob Oeste, senior programmer and analyst at Johns Hopkins University Press, was more positive. According to Oeste, a Project MUSE survey indicates that 67 percent of users are interested in EPUB formats. Oeste demystified the e-book by explaining that it's nothing really more complicated than a zip folder, and all we have to do is make that folder contain the features that readers will want in the future without even know that they want them. I feel like maybe many years of explaining his work to people who can't understand it may have encouraged him to carry the simplification habit a bit too far, but I'm enjoying thinking about what I want from books that I'm not getting yet. My mind leaps immediately to The Matrix and I worry for a moment about smell-o-vision. I'd really like to be able to turn the pages of my e-book without using my hands, but maybe I'm being old-school thinking about pages. What Oeste actually means is that users want e-books to work on the web in a way that's more "app-like." As a user, I want that too. That is incentive enough for me to learn new coding procedures and do a few more checks of the text. But the consensus for this session is that the cost benefit analysis does not yet favor an XML-first workflow.
At the next session, XML-first workflows were adamantly presented as our only rational option. David Rech of Scribe Inc. emphasized the importance of a well-formed document with appropriately nested structures, and advised that we use XML "first, only, and always." This is the key, he explained, to future-proofing our content and making it flexibly adapt to a variety of formats. XML has coded, nested structure and we need to learn to think that way. I'm beginning to once again feel puffed-up and confident about XML-first. We're editors. We already code and we code first. We care about grammar. We already think about nested structures all the time. This seems encouraging. There are comments about the tail wagging the dog, but I'm quite sure the ideas in our beautiful books can survive nested structures. I've forgotten, for the moment, about the costs of XML-first workflows in the present and I'm ready to future proof.
Other dark-horse ideas for digitization get floated during the comments and questions portion of the sessions. These include having the University of Toronto code our files for other presses using eXtyles. (It's expensive, I hear. They already seem to be web compatible, someone else says.) Skip XML, advises one audience member; the commercial publishers are all using HTML5. Or, as another audience member advised, replace jobs in editorial and composition and send the whole process offshore. Or perhaps—there are "oohs" and "ahhs" at the product showcase as this happens on-screen—we can drag and drop a book into a system called Typéfi Publish to virtually eliminate editing and coding, move proofs quickly to our authors, and convert back and forth between formats. There go the offshore jobs as well. My editor's heart sinks as I note that these feats are listed under the heading "Solwution" in the Typéfi literature. We really do all make mistakes.
I quietly asked whether my colleagues were converting their content to XML. They all said they were. I asked them what they were doing with them and they didn't yet know. The goal at this point seems to be archiving and re-purposing. Rebundling articles has had promising early results for some journals, but getting the permissions sorted out is difficult. Our press is sending our InDesign files out for conversion to e-books and we are still producing beautifully designed print books that I admire fetishistically. We are using an XML-last workflow, and producing e-books just fine.
I am a passionate print book lover, but I truly want to embrace the future and even love reading books on my phone. I'm excited by the multi-media content in science textbooks and apps and want IU Press books to be able to incorporate this technology as well. I believe in open access and accessibility. However, my firm sense of purpose was beginning to waver in the face of so many approaches to digitization and so few clear success stories. So it was with great excitement that I attended my last digitization session: "The Grand Convergence: The Evolution of an Interoperable Publishing Ecosystem." The description reads "The publishing ecosystem we've all come to take for granted is fragmented and siloed, but there are some key initiatives underway to address this problem, three of which are highlighted in this session." I was definitely feeling the fragmentation and silos in the digital publishing ecosystem, and chose to look beyond the fact that that Grand Convergence session described not one solution, but three. I'm very glad I did.
In this session, Bill Kasdorf, the Vice President of Content Solutions at Apex, described the efforts of the W3C—the World Wide Web Consortium—to develop international standards for interacting with the internet that will allow us to achieve interoperability between various digital formats such as EPUB, XML, and HTML, which is the language the web uses to create documents. Kasdorf, who has a background in book composition, values design and seems to value the book. Within a few years, he says, we will have EPUB WEB, which will allow a single file to move seamlessly from the web to e-books on a variety of devices, and even to print books, which I hope will be beautifully designed. Convergence will represent the best of all worlds: XML and EPUB will bring styling, metadata, and packagability to the book and the web will bring structure and accessibility.
Next, Erich van Rijn of the University of California Press presented the HTML5-based format that will provide web access for their Mellon Foundation–funded Luminos OA digital monographs series. Van Rijn's vision is that we adopt a reverse workflow: writing books on the web using HTML5 and exporting them to InDesign for print and elsewhere for all the formats we can imagine. He points out that web usage is large and growing: market penetration is 40 percent and has tripled since the year 2000. He argues that web apps are getting better and better, and offers the compelling example of the superiority of the web version of Facebook versus the phone versions.
With support from the Mellon Foundation, Luminos and eScholarship will create a low cost and fast way to move author revision and editorial processes directly to the web, where all editing will be done using track-changes in HTML5. The web-first workflow will allow them to offer suites of publication services that libraries generally can't offer (it's worth a trip to the eScholarship portal for examples). With the promise web standards developed by the W3C, there will be automatic conversion to any format you like and no need for any typesetting. This raises concerns for me, but I know Bill Kasdorf will have his eye on this as well.
Next, the University of Minnesota Operations and Business Development Manager Susan Doerr described the web accessibility and flexibility of their Manifold Scholarship monographs, where they've added interactive and iterative components. This program is discussed more fully above. Their source code and platform will be open access and available to all presses and incorporates everything we love about the internet—constant updates, links, interactive content, and instant open access—into the scholarly monograph.
These are all different systems and platforms again, it is true. And people are already scurrying to replace them with EPUB WEB. But if we can truly share our most rarefied, provocative, complex, and least-read books as webpages with anyone who wants to learn, I'm in. And if we can then with a push of a button print out the lovely, beautifully designed, carefully edited IU Press books I love so much, I'm more in. And if people with print disabilities can push a button and hear these great books as clearly as I can read them, I'm in even more. I think I'm even in for an EPUB WEB2–first workflow.
It's an exciting time in publishing and the little zip files that are holding our e-books are getting to be things we never imagined we wanted without our even knowing we wanted them. It was a rare privilege to watch great minds sort through the difficult problems we try to slog through every day and imagine better things for the scholarship we value so much. The diversity of approaches presented at AAUP, though daunting, was an inspiration in itself. The support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation colored the entire proceedings: all remarked they had never seen such a positive atmosphere of collaboration and collegiality. At the final session, "How Can Universities and Their Presses Co-evolve?", Jill Tiefenthaler, the President of Colorado College, spoke eloquently about the growing funding inequalities between universities and the challenges associated with providing affordable education to our students. We have likely never needed the humanities—and university presses—more than we do now.
Today, Nancy Lightfoot, another one of our Pat Hoefling Grant winners, will recap her experience from the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) 2015 conference. Nancy is Project Manager and Editor at IUP.
The AAUP Annual Meeting: Business Unusual in the Service of Scholarship
We've all heard predictions that publishing is in dire straits, that people don't read anymore, and that the book is dead. If publishing in general is becoming an increasingly tough business, scholarly publishing is facing even greater challenges. A recent post I saw on a copyeditor's list—probably among the most bookish of the bookish crowds out there—was dismissive: "Nobody reads scholarly books." All too often sales figures bear that out. University of Minnesota Press Director Douglas Armato once defined a scholarly monograph as a book that doesn't make money, wryly adding that if a university press book makes any money at all it's called a trade title.
For many purveyors of intellectual content a few "tent pole" publications, movies, or performers generally prop up a very big tent full of products that they hoped would make money and didn't really end up doing so. For university presses our tent poles are our trade titles and they are not financially sturdy. We have also, by our mission, made a firm, long-term commitment to producing extremely fine scholarship that we absolutely know will lose money. Nobody is questioning our commitment to these books: they are the collective knowledge of our best scholars. They win awards, they lead scholarly fields in new directions, they intelligently examine the way we interact with the world, and they enhance our lives and the prestige of our institutions. What we need to somehow do is find a business model that will align with our mission. Proceeding as low-budget versions of commercial publishers has not gotten us where we need to be in the future of scholarship, so we need to become masters of reinvention. There was good evidence at AAUP that we already have.
A Mission Not Impossible
Among those on the copyediting list who were ready to dismiss scholarly books, there were a few who came back—mostly off-list—saying they read them and loved them. We exchanged a series of testimonials about our favorite university press books and lists and felt the glow you get when you know someone else shares your secret passion. One of the most energizing aspects of attending the AAUP was that everyone shared that same passion and sense of mission. Everyone there values scholarship: we read it, we love it, and we work long hours for low salaries because we are committed to sharing it and preserving the very best of it for the future. We are experts at sorting through information to determine what is worth sharing and saving. And we are also committed to sharing that information widely: we believe what we do is for the common good and increasingly believe in open access (OA). I was once in a staff meeting full of editors who let out a collective squeal of indignation about the New York Times asking readers to pay for gradations of access. My inner voice was indignant: You are editors! What makes you think writers and editors can work for free? But we all want our content instantly and for free these days. When it comes to scholarly publishing, whether to make content open access is no longer a question for debate; open access is inevitable and spreading fast. It is for the good of scholarship and it is part of our mission.
Vint Cerf, Internet Evangelist, Frames the Debate
An unexpected highlight of the AAUP meeting was a presentation by Vint Cerf, the vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. Cerf's talk was expansive, entertaining, and well worth watching and it nicely laid out some of the central questions occupying the academy and academic presses: How do we choose what information is saved? Is there a convergence about the format we can save it in? And who pays for the storage of collective knowledge?
For some time now, Cerf has been speaking about the Black Hole we may be leaving in the historical record in the digital age. Increasingly our carefully saved digital artifacts have become inaccessible as storage formats change (the Betamax tape of your favorite movie; the CD containing my dissertation that I can no longer read on my new MacBook, which lacks a CD drive). In addition, much of the information necessary to reconstruct our content is proprietary: the software we use to store it, the hardware we store it on, and the operating systems that run it all belong not to us, but to those who created that particular part of our intellectual content. So who owns our information coded on all these systems? The bride and groom who carefully stored their wedding memories on the now-defunct iPhoto? Or Apple? And who should bear the burden of storing and associating it all? Can proprietary software code be copied "for the common good" as we have continued to allow books to be Xeroxed?
Cerf argues that we should have the choice about whether to preserve our history and is currently evangelizing for "digital vellum," a sort of x-ray of the various formats used to store executable content that would ensure retrievability of our digital information—one version is already in development at Carnegie Mellon. When asked what he was most proud of as one of the Fathers of the Internet, Cerf mentioned the layered structure of the web and the fact that the internet deals with packet of information and is agnostic with respect to format. We are far from having home or office digital vellum readers, however, and the systems most publishers are currently dealing with are far from agnostic with respect to format; as anyone who has struggled with the latest version of Word or considered workflow options for converting to text files to e-books can attest. It is implicit in the business models of tech companies that format will be constantly changing: How else will they be able to sell us new products? But the money they're making is coming from us, and creating content that will be readable in a constantly changing ecosystem of software, operating systems, and devices is an expensive task of daunting complexity. Where do we jump to produce low-cost, high-quality, and future-proofed digital content?
The Monograph 2.0
The staple of most university press catalogs is the scholarly monograph. As of now, university tenure committees generally require a traditionally published, print monograph before granting tenure in the humanities and other fields. And while scholars need them, university presses will likely produce them. A poll of 1000 scholars by the University of California Press determined more than half of were opposed to the idea of open access monographs. There will still be paper books and proprietary content for the foreseeable future. But there are big shifts happening in the way content is being produced and pressure to change these attitudes.
As Alison Mudditt of the University of California Press announced matter-of-factly in the panel "Successful Product Development: Is 'Fail Fast' the Only Way?," in many significant ways "the scholarly monograph isn't working for anybody." Even print monographs don't make money. Not enough people read them, which means they have low usage and visibility and their ideas are not reaching the scholarly community. Scholars are chafing to try new media and interactive formats, and the print-first format isn't integrating well with the digital mainstream. The mission of university presses is to disseminate the finest scholarship, but with tightening budgets for presses and the libraries that purchase their books, the pressure is always there to choose books that will sell over—or at least among—books that contain revolutionary ideas.
The primary change as we move forward toward open access will have to be in the way the production of scholarship is funded. A problem is that the cost of producing, promoting, and preserving scholarship is not borne equally by all universities: those universities with presses are subsidizing the publication of scholarship from other institutions. That's been accepted to date, but it is not an overly popular cause to pour scarce funds into. As we factor in the cost of open access, more of the cost of producing scholarship will have to shift from readers and university presses to authors and their home institutions. The pay-to-publish model is already well-established in open access journals in the sciences, of course, where authors are commonly charged steep article-processing fees (APCs) by journals such as PLOS ONE.
The publishing subsidies authors currently receive in the humanities will not be enough to sustain the OA monograph, however, the cost of which is roughly and conservatively estimated at about $15,000. This is not a price that can reasonably be asked of junior faculty in the humanities. As a result, the University of California Press's Luminos OA monograph program emphasizes a cooperative consortium model for funding: some of the cost will continue to be borne by subsidies to university presses, some may come from subscription fees from the faculty member's home institution, and some will have to come from library subscriptions. Publication subsidies will likely have to increase—as Alison Mudditt reasonably points out, the cost will be trivial compared to the cost of setting up high-tech labs in the sciences. There is still revenue coming in from print sales, which remains the strong preference for most book buyers. A large savings and the move to OA can be simultaneously achieved by publishing monographs quickly and directly to the internet, a process that still demands investment to develop the appropriate technology. With contributions from all these revenue streams and faith in a web-first, efficient platform to decrease cost, UC Press estimates the author's title publication fee in a sustainable Luminos digital OA monograph program will need to be about $7,500. UC Press plans to offer advice and consultation for ways to come up with that fee.
Part 2 of Nancy's recap will be posted tomorrow.
This week on the blog, we're featuring posts from some of our colleagues who attended the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) 2015 conference last month. Today's post is by Sarah Jacobi, Interim Regional Sponsoring Editor and one of this year's Pat Hoefling Grant winners.
AAUPs, much like the finches once studied by Darwin in the Galapagos Islands have learned to change the shape of their beaks in order to survive. For AAUPs, the beak is our books. The days of high print runs for monographs, non-POD printing, physical bookstores, and no e-books are gone forever. More than ever before, the world of book publishing is continually changing and university presses are on the front lines of that change.
Innovation. Collaboration. Modification. Those were all buzzwords at the 2015 annual meeting. The panels this year were focused on a wide variety of subjects. One of the most informative was on the joint project decisions made by acquisitions and marketing.
It was during this panel that two of my new favorite phrases of the annual meeting were uttered: “where the rubber meets the road and sometimes small animals get killed” to describe book proposal meetings and the relationship between acquisitions and marketing was “bloodier than blood.”
For me, one of the best things about the meeting was hearing about how other university presses handle routine publishing procedures and tasks. This was especially true at this panel. At one press, the contract meeting until 1.5 years ago, was a closed door affair involving just the acquisitions editors and the director. No additional input from other departments was requested. At another, there are weekly contract proposal meetings. One senior editor described the acquisitions department as having to constantly pivot inward and outward within the press.
I was able to attend the collaborative lab on how three Michigan university presses have worked together—members from each press talked about how they’ve collaborated for conferences, advertising, and author events. They even passed around a collection of seasonal postcards they are thinking about sending out. Each postcard focuses on a season and a couple things that make Michigan great during that time of year. I was intrigued by the idea. There was also lots of discussion about the pros, cons, and how-tos when working with another university press. Regional book events and mailings were targeted as a good collaboration area for same state university presses. University presses can also work together if they have a mutual author in common.
Another really fun panel was “Does It Have to Be Blue?” which focused on the purpose and evolution of book covers. The cover is no longer an ornament of the text but a billboard. I especially appreciated the designer who showed several examples of the same book cover from the last 30-40 years. In several cases the original cover was more interesting than the current one but had fallen out of favor due to expense or relevance. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for those old book jackets.
This entire experience was made possible when I was chosen as a 2015 recipient of the Pat Hoefling Grant. I was both stunned and honored to be chosen. Pat was an amazing person and full of fun and positive energy. This scholarship is a wonderful tribute to her.
We were pleased to host University of Nebraska Press employee Emily Giller last week for her AAUP residency! This program is designed to give staff at AAUP member presses the opportunity to refine or learn new skills and procedures from colleagues who are strong in a particular area or have developed innovative programs. She shares her experience in this blog post.
I have never been to Indiana before. I’ve never had a reason to visit. So, I was excited that my first visit to Indiana involved spending three days working with the great staff at Indiana University Press in Bloomington, IN.
I chose to visit IUP because they publish a lot of books in Jewish and Holocaust studies. As many of you probably know, Nebraska has a partnership with the Jewish Publication Society, which is only a couple of years old. I went to Indiana hoping to learn more about how IUP markets its Jewish titles and how we can increase our presence within the Jewish market.
The staff at IUP not only taught me about marketing Jewish titles, but they also gave me great insights in advertising, electronic marketing, catalog production, cover design, and so much more. I met with most of IUP’s marketing staff and sat with them as they walked me through every step of their jobs. I also had the privilege of attending an author book signing located at Indiana’s Lilly Library. It was great to be able to see the IUP marketing department in action.
I must admit, I was sad to leave Bloomington when my time there was up. I truly enjoyed learning more about the publishing world from the marketing professionals there. I’m happy to say that I came back to Nebraska with new ideas and new insights into the publishing world.
By Darja Malcolm-Clarke
In June, thanks to the Pat Hoefling Professional Development Grant from IU Press, I was able to attend the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) in New Orleans. This was my first time attending and was an excellent introduction to the UP publishing industry beyond IU Press. The theme of this year’s meeting was Open to Debate, a gesture toward open access, the technological/digital mandate that promises (or threatens, depending on your point of view!) to transform scholarly publishing. The website framed the conference inquiry thus: “As we replace old business models with rapidly evolving new ones, scholarly publishers must collaboratively and energetically defend the core truths of our industry while signaling our willingness to embrace change.”
Attending the conference this year was important to me because I somewhat recently left academia proper for UP publishing; upon entering the industry, I found there was much more going on than I’d realized when I’d been on the other side of the manuscript submissions pile. I knew this meeting would be an excellent orientation to the issues the industry faces, both in the present moment and as anticipated in the coming years. I was not disappointed.
“Open to Debate” indeed! Throughout the conference I heard a variety of positions about OA, and positions about the positions, and questions about the positions. There were a number of panels and sessions that provided different “ins” to the “problem” as well as attempts to identify the “core truths” of the industry (to use the language of the conference materials).
The conversation opened with the first plenary session, titled “Not Just Open Access.” I believe the title was intended to suggest that it’s not just OA that is up for debate because OA, it turns out, allows us to call into question many of the “givens” of university press publishing of the last century. The plenary presented three perspectives on “how university presses can rethink their missions of access, clarify their value propositions, and explore new models of connecting readers and consumers to scholarship” in light of the “information scarcity models with paywalls and cost-recovery to fund and execute” the mission of distributing scholarship. Things would be simple, of course, if the digital revolution meant that scholarship could be disseminated far and wide digitally—for free. But OA, it turns out, is not free. It’s not even cheap! Grappling with that reality is one of the challenges UPs face and constitutes the foundation of many of the inquiries I heard at the conference. Indeed, much of the discussion revolves around the difficulties of funding OA given the way UPs are structured in relation to their home institutions and other universities. And that presents an unusual opportunity to rethink many other aspects of the industry as it exists.
Joe Esposito frames his talk by asking, if the current UP business model is broken, where is the breakage? He begins by pointing out a key difference between UP publishing and library publishing—libraries have institutional support while UPs must be governed by marketplace economics. At the same time, UPs cannot follow a strictly for-profit model because part of their very mission is anchored in the commitment to support certain worthwhile disciplines that might not otherwise be profitable in the purely for-profit world. Thus UPs are stuck in the difficult position of having to be governed by marketplace economics while pursuing a mission that is decidedly not tenable in marketplace economics! Thus, to stay afloat, a UP must rely on other UPs to publish home-institution scholarship in some of these fields, which leads to further dilution of support from the home institution. The result is that institutions can wind up not supporting their own UP.
Mark Edington also addresses this problem, pointing out that the UP industry is organized in a way that pits UPs against their own institutions, in that presses are actually largely supporting the work of faculty of other institutions. As a result, institutions tend not to have an incentive to support their UP. Moreover, Edington points out, having UPs compete in the marketplace and function as firm-based organizations, as opposed to having institutions provide the revenue and create a commons-like organization, sets up university presses to struggle.
Edington presents OA as an opportunity to redress some of the problems Esposito brings up—the conundrum of UPs being mission-driven (that is, not-for-profit) while being asked to accomplish the incompatible task of being market-driven. He frames OA as simply a means to an end, the “how” to the UP’s mission statement (which is the “what”—to disseminate scholarship).
Edington suggests that shifting to an OA model can be an opportunity to transform the kind of waters we swim in from being marketplace- and revenue-focused to being focused on disseminating scholarship. The way to do this is to recognize that the UP mission is also the mission of the home institution, and for the home institution to adopt maintaining its press as part of its mission. Doing this could shift the way UPs go about their business and the kind of work they are able to do. If I understand him correctly, Edington suggests that institutions supporting OA in their presses is not only the way to shift from an unsustainable model of UPs in the marketplace—it is also the opportunity we need to make UPs focus on scholarship rather than on “catering” to consumers. This, of course, can only help researchers who are in fields that are not commercially “popular” but nonetheless have valuable work to present to the scholarly community. In other words, the best way to assure the UP system will survive the shift to OA is for home institutions to take on fiscal responsibility for maintaining their presses.
Edington points out too that some of the rancor about OA stems from an association of digital publishing with second-tierness (an attitude I sometimes see, as a fiction writer, from people outside fiction circles who maintain the knee-jerk assumption that magazines published online are universally low quality; this erroneous association has not yet been exorcised from wider cultural discourse, it seems). Others hold that OA is utopian, but Edington says hoping to maintain UP publishing with the rise in the cost of academic books over the last decade is itself utopian.
I am sorry to say that only the first four minutes of the video of Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s talk about scholarly societies and the commons were made available, so I was not able to refresh my memory/decipher my frantically scrawled notes from her talk. However, I look forward to perusing the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, of which she is co-founder.
Another thread about how to fund OA was presented in the “Town Hall” session The Revolution Will be Subsidized. The focus of this panel was to restore the economic viability of the humanities monograph; the models presented both relied on Open Access. The first was presented by Raym Crow for the AAU/ARL Task Force. The second was presented by Donald J. Waters of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Suffice it to say that the models were as complex as they were compelling. I leave it to the reader to explore these different initiatives.
Another panel, Open Access: Success and Sustainability, looked at case studies of OA experiments underway. Representatives from four institutions presented their group’s OA initiatives: Susan Skomal of BioOne’s Elementa; Frances Pinter, the Executive Director of Knowledge Unlatched; Alison Mudditt, Director of University of California Press; and David Corey of University Press of New England. The overarching inquiry was by what criteria should we define the success of OA experiments—by sustainability, high usage, worldwide reach? The intricacies are beyond the scope of this post, but for interested parties, the links above may help illuminate some of the workings of Elementa and Knowledgte Unlatched. Mudditt cited the unsustainability of current business models as one reason for her leading UCP into their OA experiment, as well as massive shifts in the dynamics of the journals market. Corey concluded that in his view, OA fulfills the UP mission and the university mission, echoing sentiments from the first plenary that UPs are caught in a paradox of having to operate in a higher education mentality (having a nonprofit mission to share scholarship), while being asked to operate simultaneously in a publishing industry mindset (maintaining sales stability and growth). He pointed to the need to strike a balance between discoverability (higher education mentality) and affordability (book publishing mentality).
The second plenary session was built around the idea that just as scholarly publishing is changing, so should the AAUP. Reimagining the AAUP: Evolutionary and Revolutionary Opportunities was a session unlike any I’d ever attended! The group of 400 people, crowded into an enormous ballroom, was broken into smaller groups and asked to brainstorm on the future direction of the AAUP; the aim was to gather attendees’ “ideas for how to best realize the myriad opportunities for AAUP that lie before us.” The association’s mission statement had been recently reworked, and we were asked to develop a strategic plan in the separate arenas of advocacy, collaboration, infrastructure, education, and research. The different groups then presented some of the fruits of their brainstorming, and we voted via text message on the most important or promising of these. It was fascinating to see the results being compiled in real time! A more detailed summary of the process and the results can be found here. It will be interesting to see how the results of that process unfold—whether the congregated were able to compile a strategic plan that was truly useable or informative.
I went to the AAUP annual meeting with the sense that OA is shaking up the UP industry and that everyone is scrambling to make sure they have a seat on that train as it pulls out of the station. What I didn’t necessarily anticipate was the deep contemplation that would go into identifying and rethinking the “core truths” of the scholarly publishing industry. It was heartening and energizing to see the varied approaches to framing the issues OA presents and configuring ways to grapple with them—and indeed, appeals to use this moment of transition to bring UP publishing in better line with what should be its core truth and primary focus: nothing more nor less than simply disseminating scholarship.
by Tony Brewer
Day two of the meeting began with “A Seat at the Table: Navigating University Structures for Fun and Profit,” a frank discussion about reporting hierarchies at different presses, how to make use of them, and at times what (or who) to avoid. Of all sessions, this one made the best use of the phrase “Please don’t tweet that.” How much leeway, then, do I have with a blog post?
Meredith Morris-Babb, Director of the University Press of Florida, suggested creating a “crisis tool kit” with the names of people to contact when you want action. Mary Katherine Callaway, Director at LSU Press, suggested finding out when and where faculty meetings happen (and when non-faculty can attend), and mapping out the actual hierarchy (who will get results) as well as the published structure (who will get credit/blame).
Nicole Mitchell, Director at University of Washington Press, noted that their press is overseen by a faculty committee appointed by the president and that those faculty are librarians who are more plugged in to the university than are press directors. Consequently, press staff meet with them weekly.
Structures were all over the map, as one would expect, with varying levels of involvement from all camps. Of course, clear, open communication is always the best policy, but I think being in right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time is as much a determiner of political success as any other factor in publishing.
The Tuesday plenary session, “Reimagining the AAUP: Evolutionary and Revolutionary Opportunities,” was a highlight of the meeting. Facilitators were the past, present, and future AAUP presidents (Philip Cercone, Director, McGill-Queen's University Press; Barbara Kline Pope, National Academies Press; and Meredith Morris-Babb, Director, University Press of Florida, respectively).
The organizational firepower behind this session was truly awe-inspiring. Everyone was assigned to a random table in a large ballroom, four to eight people at each table. Everyone then voted (via text message) on the importance of one of the four goals (Collaboration, Advocacy, Research, and Education) of the new AAUP strategic plan. The results were tallied on a large screen in real-time. Each table had a moderator and was then assigned a goal. My table tackled advocacy. Several tables were handling each goal. After brainstorming tactics for about 30 minutes, we tabulated the best five ideas about advocacy. A table moderator was selected at random and read that table’s results and this happened for each goal. All results of the plenary can be found here, and there is a ton of data. The next step is for the AAUP board to review the data and priorities which tactic they will pursue.
Again, in keeping with the theme of the meeting and with the changes in university publishing as a whole, collaboration and advocacy were clearly the most important goals. I thought one of the most interesting suggestions was that the AAUP change its name, as the organization is neither solely American nor limited to “presses.” (For that matter, what university “press” actually utilizes a press? Ah, semantics.)
The plenary session was long and carried over into lunch, but the interactive nature kept everyone engaged. The session “Managing the Modern Press” followed. Richard Brown, Director at Georgetown University Press, began by describing “tyrant”-style of leadership, using Sgt. Carter from the TV show Gomer Pyle USMC as an example. Good leadership, he said, should be modeled after the basic principles of quantum physics, since particles exist only in relation to each other and these relationships are fundamental to the system's ability to renew and revitalize each other.
He also said healthy relationships require:
Also, neither charisma nor power nor brilliance equate to good leadership, but the ability to create conditions for healthy relationships which includes offering vision and a worldview (products, ID, place); communicating all the time; and being encouraging and affirmative whenever possible.
Pam McClanahan, Director at Minnesota Historical Society Press, provided an excellent handout entitled A Director’s Guide to Managing the Modern University Press, organized by press size. She also related:
Five (too) Easy Pieces (of advice)
She also suggested after-work activities IU Press typically already enjoys (happy hour, department outings, etc.) but also mentioned that to be successful and well attended, such get-togethers need to be convenient and not too frequent.
Linda Secondari, Creative Director at Oxford University Press has found that when it comes to flex-time, treating staff as grown-ups is something of a leap of faith, but there are benefits. For the staff, remote working and flexible scheduling often requires a more collaborative team structure. Giving the freedom to adjust work hours also empowers employees, making them more self-directed and generating proactive problem solving. Staff in turn act like adults, use clearer communication, and, in Linda’s case, generated quarterly reports on progress toward targets, with commentary.
Leila Salisbury, Director at University Press of Mississippi, spoke about motivating employees, especially Millennials. Gens X & Y value less ambiguity and opportunities to learn, so it’s important to articulate traditional career paths; they want to be partners in the enterprise, not wait 20 years for a seat at the table. Remember though that younger employees can be stretched but don't overwhelm them. They also prefer a balanced life: home, family, and place are important to Gen X & Y, who want to be committed to careers but free to pursue personal interests.
She also touched on dealing with uncertainty, citing an April 2014 Wall Street Journal article that noted, “75% of people in uncertain situations erroneously predicted that bad things would happen. So the reactions and decisions that were made based on fear and anxiety could turn out to be exactly the wrong moves.” One should accept uncertainty, not avoid it, for it is inevitable.
The final session I attended was “Collaborative Content Strategies: Projects that Work.” Fresh from the previous session on managing presses, Pam McClanahan described the concept of collaborative content as a large theme under which one can gather articles, essays, or even photographs or other collections (one year of the Civil War; the summer of 1964 as it relates to the Civil Right Movement; climate change; etc.).
She said collaboration has four components:
As an excellent example, she displayed the digital-first open access encyclopedia of Minnesota: MNopedia. In 2010 the Minnesota Historical Society met with potential users and contributors, consulted tech experts and evaluated similar resources, then set the plan in motion. The site was built in 2011, though it continues to be tested and expanded. MNopedia is funded “by Minnesotans”: the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008.
The MNopedia stresses consistency and thorough research: as noted on their About page, “MNopedia eras are aligned with the 2011 Minnesota K–12 Academic Standards in Social Studies.” It also throws the spotlight on local history and has connected many scholars and experts across the state.
Next David Ruddy, Director of Scholarly Communications Services at Cornell University Library, introduced Project Euclid, a “collaborative partnership between Cornell University Library and Duke University Press which seeks to advance scholarly communication in theoretical and applied mathematics and statistics through partnerships with independent and society publishers. It was created to provide a platform for small publishers of scholarly journals to move from print to electronic in a cost-effective way.”
Development of Project Euclid began in 1999 when Cornell University Library received a Mellon Grant to support the transition of small, non-commercial mathematics journals from print to digital distribution. It launched in 2003. By 2006, “it had become clear that its operating model was under stress. Gross revenues from subscriptions were increasing at significant rates, but so were expenses. Net income at the close of the fiscal year provided Euclid with a modest surplus, but not nearly enough to capitalize growth and remain competitive,” according to a case study by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), who helped to cement a joint venture between Cornell and Duke University Press.
Why not partner with Cornell University itself? There was no strategic advantage to working with Cornell University Press (though the library DOES work with CUP in other areas) and the Euclid mission is not locally focused, plus Duke UP had experience putting its own math journals online. Duke handles marketing, financial, and order fulfillment while Cornell provides and supports Project Euclid's IT infrastructure.
Project Euclid is about 70% open access, made possible through support by subscribing libraries and participating publishers, so some articles have BUY buttons on the abstract page. It also offers print-on-demand through a third-party vendor for select content, mostly monographs.
Donna Shear, Director at University of Nebraska Press, spoke about the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH), which “advances interdisciplinary, collaborative research, and offers forums, workshops and research fellowships for faculty and students in the area of digital scholarship.” The CDRH mounts projects that work as multimedia first (only) or that are already in print but benefit from multimedia enhancement. CDRH is funded in by the University of Nebraska and other private donors. Its many projects (26 currently) have their own funding sources: the Walt Whitman Archive, for example, is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, University of Iowa, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia.
One ultimate goal of digital scholarship at UNL is to get scholars tenured, promoted, and receiving raises “based on a file heavily weighted with electronic scholarship.” They are not there yet largely because “review committees and others grapple with the problems of peer review processes that are not as prevalent for electronic as for print scholarship.”
In answering the question how to keep these sorts of projects fresh and updated (and funded), Mick Gusinde-Duffy at University of Georgia Press stressed that they need to be “actually” sustainable and scalable, noting that presses are working toward sharing workflow but there is still tension between day-to-day publishing and opportunities to experiment. I think that’s where a lot of publishers are struggling to innovate: the desire is there but the resources are scarce, even for “day-to-day publishing.”
Also mentioned was The Full New York Times Innovation Report that covers problems with digital publishing and offers many good ideas and insights university presses could use.
In a discussion of “who pays for all this,” Donna Shear was quick to say they always knew UNL would be paying for CDRH. Pam McClanahan Funds said resources and staff time were mapped to data population of the MNopedia rather than to when the site would launch, and related that the MN Historical Society could funnel funds directly to specific parts or topics on the site. Gusinde-Duffy also noted it is important to emphasize “skin in the game” to stakeholders (scholars, content providers, and funders), and that it is essential to specifically prioritize funding: say “I want money for five books about these five WWII battles,” rather than “I want to fund publications about WWII.”
It may be difficult to get some acquisitions editors (and by extension some authors) invested in these projects because the outlay initially is more than just money. It requires a lot of time and an intense amount of collaboration outside of one’s area of expertise. But this is the direction in which university presses need to go even though these projects are not e-books but digital resources, and their attraction adds to the scholarly mission. Readers are NOT coming to a digital site for the full text; they come for photos or a taste of the complete work. Collaborative content also increases the potential author pool, especially a project like MNopedia, which requires much ongoing scholarly participation.
I sensed excitement at the 2014 AAUP meeting. Scrambling for funding and successful (profitable) projects is still what we do, but there definitely seemed to be a renewed focus on the publishing mission and enthusiasm for new (or at least as-yet-untried) ways of disseminating scholarship. One recent new venture for IU Press is moving to the Wells Library and becoming part of the Office of Scholarly Publishing. But we are not alone; many presses are making moves in a similar direction and it is a rather cutting-edge maneuver. Collaborating with libraries (or at least librarians) as well as societies and associations is becoming more and more mainstream. Even the AAUP itself is thinking of ways to collaborate with or advocate for presses in new ways. We remain in good company and the conversation continues.
Again want to I thank the Pat Hoefling Memorial Grant Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend the 2014 AAUP annual meeting. It was an honor to represent Indiana University Press.
Project Manager/Editor Darja Malcolm-Clarke will be blogging for us tomorrow about her experience at AAUP.