The New Age of the Book | by Robert Darnton

“If everything comes together successfully, will electronic monographs be recognized as books? Will they acquire enough intellectual legitimacy to pass muster among suspicious tenure committees and to relieve the pressure on academic careers? This is the point at which veteran scholars can make a difference. Those who have proven their ability to produce first-rate conventional books could help create books of a new kind, far more original and ambitious than a converted dissertation.

In the case of history, a discipline where the crisis in scholarly publishing is particularly acute, the attraction of an e-book should be especially appealing. Any historian who has done long stints of research knows the frustration over his or her inability to communicate the fathomlessness of the archives and the bottomlessness of the past. If only my reader could have a look inside this box, you say to yourself, at all the letters in it, not just the lines from the letter I am quoting. If only Icould follow that trail in my text just as I pursued it through the dossiers, when I felt free to take detours leading away from my main subject. If only Icould show how themes crisscross outside my narrative and extend far beyond the boundaries of my book. Not that books should be exempt from the imperative of trimming a narrative down to a graceful shape. But instead of using an argument to close a case, they could open up new ways of making sense of the evidence, new possibilities of making available the raw material embedded in the story, a new consciousness of the complexities involved in construing the past.

I am not advocating the sheer accumulation of data, or arguing for links to databanks—so-called hyperlinks. These can amount to little more than an elaborate form of footnoting. Instead of bloating the electronic book, I think it possible to structure it in layers arranged like a pyramid. The top layer could be a concise account of the subject, available perhaps in paperback. The next layer could contain expanded versions of different aspects of the argument, not arranged sequentially as in a narrative, but rather as self-contained units that feed into the topmost story. The third layer could be composed of documentation, possibly of different kinds, each set off by interpretative essays. A fourth layer might be theoretical or historiographical, with selections from previous scholarship and discussions of them. A fifth layer could be pedagogic, consisting of suggestions for classroom discussion and a model syllabus. And a sixth layer could contain readers’ reports, exchanges between the author and the editor, and letters from readers, who could provide a growing corpus of commentary as the book made its way through different groups of readers.

A new book of this kind would elicit a new kind of reading. Some readers might be satisfied with a study of the upper narrative. Others might also want to read vertically, pursuing certain themes deeper and deeper into the supporting essays and documentation. Still others might navigate in unanticipated directions, seeking connections that suit their own interests or reworking the material into constructions of their own. In each case, the appropriate texts could be printed and bound according to the specifications of the reader. The computer screen would be used for sampling and searching, whereas concentrated, long-term reading would take place by means of the conventional printed book or downloaded text….”

Exploring the Uses of Open Access Books via the JSTOR Platform | hc:16603 | Humanities CORE

“This document is a report prepared for the JSTOR Presses project “Exploring Usage of Open Access Books via the JSTOR Platform”. JSTOR’s Open Access Books platform launched in October 2016. The first four publishers to submit content to the platform were UCL Press, University of Michigan Press, Cornell University Press and California University Press. Usage of the OA books made available via JSTOR by these publishers has been far in excess of the usage that each publisher has previously recorded via other distribution channels. This report is the outcome of research commissioned and funded by the four presses. It engages with usage data made available by JSTOR relating to OA books in order to assist publishers in understanding how their OA content is being used; inform strategic decision making by individual presses in the future; and shed light on the potential for data relating to the uses of OA books to support the potential of open access books to reach wide audiences. Additional key aims of the research are to help inform JSTOR in the development of the JSTOR OA Books platform; and to inform the development of JSTOR usage reporting. Ensuring that JSTOR usage reporting reflects the needs of OA publishers is also an important goal of the project. All four publishers have contributed to a discussion of the role and practicalities of usage reporting services provided by JSTOR. The project focuses primarily on data collected by JSTOR and made available to the research team for the purposes of this study. The data considered in the report relates to the period between 12 August 2015 and 7 August 2017. This data has been augmented by a short questionnaire and interviews, carried out by phone with some of the publishers. It is important to note that books considered in this report became available via the JSTOR platform at different times. Some of the books included in the data set are also available in both OA and gated formats via the JSTOR platform.”

In reversal, Cambridge University Press restores articles after China censorship row – The Washington Post

“Cambridge University Press reversed course Monday after facing a major backlash from academics over its decision to bow to Chinese government demands to censor an important academic journal.

The British-based publisher announced Friday it had removed 300 articles and book reviews from a version of the China Quarterly website available in China at the request of the government. But on Monday, it rescinded that decision after outrage from the international academic community….”

The China Quarterly follow-up statement | Cambridge University Press

“Following a clear order from its Chinese importer, Cambridge University Press reluctantly took the decision to block, within China, 315 articles in The China Quarterly. This decision was taken as a temporary measure pending discussion with the academic leadership of the University of Cambridge, and pending a scheduled meeting with the Chinese importer in Beijing.

The academic leadership of the University has now reviewed this action in advance of the meeting in China later this week. Academic freedom is the overriding principle on which the University of Cambridge is based. Therefore, while this temporary decision was taken in order to protect short-term access in China to the vast majority of the Press’s journal articles, the University’s academic leadership and the Press have agreed to reinstate the blocked content, with immediate effect, so as to uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the University’s work is founded….”

Petition · Christopher Balding: Petition Cambridge University Press Not to Censor China Articles · Change.org

“As academics and China focused academics, we are disturbed by the request by the Chinese government for Cambridge University Press to censor articles from the China Quarterly.  As academics, we believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and information on all topics not just those we agree with.  It is disturbing to academics and universities world wide that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative.  

We call upon Cambridge University Press to refuse the censorship request not just for the China Quarterly but on any other topics, journals or publication that have been requested by the Chinese government.

If Cambridge University Press acquiesces to the demands of the Chinese government, we as academics and universities reserve the right to pursue other actions including boycotts of Cambridge University Press and related journals. …”

ScienceOpen launches new Open Access journal hosting services – ScienceOpen Blog

Recently, we announced a new Open Access hosting partnership with UCL Press. But just what does this mean, exactly?

Our customised hosting services are designed to help publishers showcase and distribute the Open Access journals that they publish to maximum effect. These are the natural extension of our marketing and indexing services, developed on the basis of our years of experience in content management architecture layered with advanced discovery technologies. By working with a range of publishers and content types, we have built a flexible platform to inter-connect scholarly articles at the level of their metadata, and establish a forum for user interaction around them. For Open Access journals, however, we are able to offer further advantages by embedding the full text articles within our discovery environment.

Oxford OpenOUP supports Open Access — Steemit

“Oxford University Press (OUP) is mission-driven to facilitate the widest possible dissemination of high-quality research. We embrace both green and gold open access (OA) publishing to support this mission.

 

A proven track record of success

 

OUP has been publishing OA content since 2004. Since that time, ‘gold’ OA has grown dramatically and proven effective in some disciplines. For example, Nucleic Acids Researchmoved from a subscription publication to an OA model in 2005 and has gone from strength to strength, earning its highest impact factor ever in 2013.

 

We have also successfully launched or taken over high-quality OA titles, including: Genome Biology and Evolution, Journal of Legal Analysis,Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, and Database.

 

OUP facilitates green OA either by allowing authors to deposit versions of their manuscripts in institutional or subject repositories after a specified time period, or depositing the version of record on their behalf….”

Luminos

“Luminos is University of California Press’ new Open Access publishing program for monographs. With the same high standards for selection, peer review, production and marketing as our traditional program, Luminos is a transformative model, built as a partnership where costs and benefits are shared….

Monographs are the cornerstone of scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences, but have long been under siege. Shrinking library budgets and rising costs result in higher prices. The upshot is that presses must reduce the number of titles they publish, regardless of the merits of the work.

In the current system, distribution is limited to a few hundred purchases of each monograph. Libraries can’t build comprehensive collections, and readers can’t find or access important scholarly work. And new forms of digital and multimedia scholarship can’t flourish in a print-first/only model. It’s time for a breakthrough….

Open Access offers the potential to exponentially increase the visibility and impact of scholarly work by making it globally accessible and freely available in digital formats. Costs are covered up front through subventions, breaking down barriers of access at the other end—for libraries and for individual readers anywhere in the world.

Open Access provides our framework for preserving and reinvigorating monograph publishing for the future….

We believe in sharing costs between all parties who benefit from publication—author or institution, publisher, and libraries. In our model no one entity carries the whole burden, making it sustainable for the long haul.

The selection and review processes remain the same as in our traditional program; the same exacting criteria and peer review standards apply.

Creative Commons licensing options allow authors to control how their work is used….”

Editoria – Scholarly Monograph Platform – Collaborative Knowledge Foundation

“Since the second quarter of this year, we have been building a platform with the University of California Press and the California Digital Library. Initially, we were a small team – Kristen, Jure, and Adam – and we were tasked with designing and building an open source monograph production platform with our good friends at UCP and CDL. 

It was an ambitious undertaking as we were building the platform against the yet-to-exist PubSweet backend, and we were also in need of deciding what our design and build paradigm would be, and who was going to do the actual work. In short, we needed to design a platform, build the backend platform on top of which we were to build the Editoria platform, plus find a team….

We proceeded in what is emerging as ‘the Coko way’. We used and supported existing open source projects where we could (Substance and Vivliostyle), we invented open source technology and processes that made sense to us, and found talented people to work with that we also liked….”

University of California Press and California Digital Library to Partner with Collaborative Knowledge Foundation to Build Open Source Monograph Publishing Platform – University of California Press Blog

“We’re excited to announce that the University of California Press and California Digital Library have partnered with Collaborative Knowledge Foundation to develop, Editoria, a new open source, digital-first  book production platform.

Through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of California Press (UCP) and the California Digital Library (CDL) have embarked on a project to build an open source platform for content and workflow management of book-length works. The goal of the project is to create a shared resource for presses and library publishers to automate book production in multiple formats using a versatile, web-based production workflow system….”