Teaching an Old University Press Publisher New Tricks: Living in the Present and Preparing for the Future of Scholarly Communications
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University presses currently exist in the dual worlds of print and digital publishing. Current staffing needs require that they hire personnel with skills and experience that mirror that present duality. Training and maintaining a skilled workforce requires a commitment to flexibility and an openness to the ever-changing nature of scholarly communication. As the scholarly publishing ecosystem continues to evolve, university presses will need to look to a future workforce that has additional training, knowledge, and experience beyond the traditional skills associated with academic publishing, one that fully embraces the realities of a digital world, the habits of new generations of researchers, and the increasing role of technology in scholarly communication. This article looks at what the future might look like, what skills might be required, and how one might prepare for that future.
This article looks at practical issues in scholarly publishing pertaining to training, educating, and preparing scholarly publishing professionals for today’s technology-driven world. To provide a context for my views, I’ll begin by describing the nature of publishing at The Pennsylvania State University Press. Next, I’ll explore what contemporary publishing means within the setting of a university press. Then, using the following questions as a guide, I’ll map what skills might look like, now and in the future. One, what skills and expertise are publishers looking for in “contemporary book and journal publishing”? Two, where/how does one acquire those skills? Three, as publishing evolves, how will the skill sets for publishers change? And, four, where are publishers looking now for help in that future?
1. The Pennsylvania State University Press
The Pennsylvania State University Press, founded in 1956, is not unlike many university presses. It currently publishes annually fifty to sixty scholarly books in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, along with thirty peer-reviewed journals. More than one-third of the journals are published in cooperation with academic associations or other organizations (such as the Eugene O’Neill Society, the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, and the Moravian Historical Society and Archives). The press’s journals are available online, via Project Muse and JSTOR’s Current Scholarship Program. The press has also digitized a substantial number of scholarly monographs that are available through a variety of platforms. Difficulties in clearing third-party rights and permissions for ebook and other digital editions, however, has limited the number of titles available as ebooks. Its award-winning authors, editors, and contributors come from major—and not-so-major—institutions around the world. The press also has a vibrant regional publishing program, Keystone Books. The press handles its own distribution (for books), and receives a proportionately typical and generous allocation from its parent university to help cover its operating costs. It also benefits from additional, not insignificant, indirect support from the university. Revenue for this not-for-profit press, which must cover roughly 90% of its operating expenses for twenty-eight staff, is generated from sales of print and digital books, journal subscriptions, and licensing income. The Association of American University Presses to which it belongs considers the press a “small, mid-sized” press (<$3M annually). University presses are not all structured alike. Some report to provosts, some to research deans, some to boards, and others to library directors. Penn State University reorganized its press in 2005; I have been the director since 2007. Following the reorganization, the director of the press began reporting to the Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications. Even prior to the reorganization, however, the press and University Libraries had been collaborating; but in 2005, the press and the libraries established the Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing, a joint enterprise that explored new models of scholarly communication. That unit successfully publishes an open access monograph series, a reprint collection of regional classics based on the libraries’ holdings, and a monograph on German-language broadsides as well as other projects. The press continues to work with the libraries to develop a database of the broadsides. The Pennsylvania State University Libraries also publish several digital projects and provide campus-based resources, including repository services.
2. Contemporary Scholarly Publishing: Books
Apart from a few formal “Publishing Courses” and a handful of schools offering courses in publishing, the industry has typically been more of an apprentice-based enterprise than a professionally accredited one. People enter publishing in a variety of ways, but frequently, it is sort of an “accidental vocation.”
“Contemporary scholarly publishing” refers to original, peer-reviewed, academic research appearing in books, journals, and emerging forms of scholarly communication. For the purposes of this essay, I will focus on university presses, whose lists tend to concentrate on arts, humanities, and social sciences. I distinguish between book and journal publishing because they differ in terms of where they stand in the transition to a more fully digital world. I say “book” not “print” because I am interested in both print and digital (ebook) publishing. Whereas journals have transitioned more successfully to a digital world, much of scholarly book publishing remains in limbo.
Why do so many scholarly book publishers remain betwixt and between? First, advances in technology tend to “mimic previous states.” Thus, “there appear to be transitions in technology before the truly new, that based on a new model, is assimilated into the culture of the general user.” “A book” (in contrast with a journal) carries with it a load of cultural, social, economic, and in many cases personal meaning. “People are comfortable with what they already know and are therefore often resistant to large steps of change that may undermine an existing corporate or other infrastructure.” Thus we use the language of “ebooks” and “readers,” and devices are designed to look like “books”; developers use “e-ink,” graphic interfaces emulate turning a page, and so on. Even the use of the word “book” for a virtual “object” that is essentially zeros and ones persists.
Second, whereas the physical format of a printed journal was not essentially itself a conveyor of meaning, that is not always the case with a book. Just take a look at the variety of trim sizes for books, and the role of size in conveying a message. (Imagine an art book that’s 4" x 6" trying to display the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel versus one that is 8" x 10".) Imagine, too, that in art and architectural history publishing, an area in which Penn State Press excels, digital representation, while possible, does not meet the standards of color reproduction demanded by designers, museums, researchers, or rights holders. Screens, whether readers, tablets, or phones, fail to consistently and accurately represent color as well as a paper book. Books are also artifacts in their own right. They are collected. People maintain libraries in their homes and offices. Books have “dust jackets,” beautifully illustrated covers designed to entice a potential reader to “pick me up!” Books link us to cultural icons like Hemingway, Plath, Twain, or Alcott. In a few cases books are sacred. Books have an aesthetic above and beyond what’s between the boards. Yes, this aesthetic and emotional attachment to book as a physical object will probably dissipate over time, but it hasn’t happened yet, and it may never happen completely.
Third, publishers remain caught between the past and the future because they quickly discovered practical and legal obstacles prevented them from moving print collections into digital ones. Old—even existing—contracts often failed to anticipate a scenario in which digital rights of a work would be at stake. Even more problematically, many scholarly works contain “third-party” owned content that was licensed under restricted conditions. Frequently, these conditions did not include an ebook version. Publishers had to renegotiate author agreements; they had to track down rights holders and renegotiate e-rights. All of this, of course, costs money, time, and human effort. For most university presses, with limited resources, a rush to digitize books would have been tantamount to financial suicide. They lacked resources, especially money, to clear rights and to digitize backlists. Most, therefore, began focusing on redoing frontlist agreements and third-party rights. But the print market for books has not collapsed as had the demand for printed journals. Yet. So they continue to straddle a changing print-digital world.
2.1 What Skills Are Publishers Looking for?
In the current environment of change, publishers still look for skilled workers familiar with, or willing to learn, the ins and outs of specific areas within publishing. Presses still need acquisitions editors who have built or who can build networks of contacts and who know a couple of academic disciplines inside out. If a press specializes in design-intensive publications, it will need a skilled designer who not only understands the principles of book design, typography, and layout, it will also need someone familiar with the “tools of the trade” like InDesign. Designers now also need to be able to think about how to design a book for “e-delivery.” New technology also means new print delivery options like print-on-demand (POD) from Lightning Source and Create Space or the myriad other POD vendors. Sales and marketing staff generally need to be experienced, resourceful, well-connected, and familiar with how libraries and traditional sales channels operate. They must also recognize the importance of metadata, be acquainted with technology and social media, and understand how to work with behemoth partners like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. International sales channels must also be tended to, and the requirement that a press understand the role of technology in all these relationships is easily underappreciated. Almost all presses increasingly rely upon technology to manage the overarching process; this requires skilled information technologists who know not only technology but how publishing works. And besides wanting the usual, mandatory qualities in a colleague—integrity, accuracy, excellent communication skills, attention to detail, adaptability, collegiality—presses need staff who recognize the ever-changing environment and who are themselves willing to adapt.
Thus, second, presses are looking for individuals willing to thoughtfully embrace technological advances. On the one hand, not every technological step forward needs to be followed; on the other hand, publishers must be willing to experiment, fail, and experiment again. While presses do not seek staff who can write code, they do need individuals who grasp that technology is revolutionizing publishing. Presses still need colleagues who believe in the “core” purpose of scholarly publishing’s mission: to produce and disseminate the highest quality, original peer-reviewed research at the most affordable price. In contemporary scholarly book publishing fulfilling this mission has become extremely complex precisely because presses still have one foot in the old print world and another in the digital world.
A third relevant skill needed by contemporary publishers is an understanding of the law. It has always been the case that publishing revolves around legal rights, copyright, and licensing and reuse, but in today’s global marketplace, it becomes vital that more staff members possess a basic understanding of the intellectual property issues surrounding a given publication. Much of learning this comes from on-the-job training, reading, and opportunities at conferences and listservs. This area strikes me as incredibly vital. Where one stands on issues of fair use, for instance, has become a fault line that is separating (or should distinguish) university presses from commercial entities. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Google Books case, the Hathi Trust case, the Georgia State University case, and so on. More about this later.
2.2 Education About Contemporary Book Publishing
Given the rapid pace of change, presses must maintain an ongoing commitment to keep up with shifts in the industry. Many university presses look first to the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), whose annual meetings, listservs (for rights and permissions, journals, marketing, directors, production and design, etc.) are sources of information and conversation. The AAUP also offers an array of resources concerning scholarly publishing on its website, including links to industry data-collecting companies like the Book Industry Study Group or the Publishing Research Consortium, which works to “promote an understanding of the role of publishing and its impact on research and teaching.” Many scholarly publishers—though perhaps fewer university presses—have recognized for a fairly long time that the Charleston Library Conference affords an excellent opportunity for harvesting industry intelligence. Conference attendance at this forum for libraries, vendors, and publishers has grown exponentially since its inception thirty-three years ago, and it continues to play an important role. As digital publishing changed the face of the research library, it became imperative that publishers know and better understand the needs, interests, and challenges of arguably their most essential customer. Scholarly publishers who exhibit at the Midwinter American Library Association view it similarly, especially as technology redefined library collection practices.
Of course, every publisher read the so-called Ithaka Report, paying particular attention to the implications for university presses. But Ithaka S+R offers a wealth of white papers and studies beyond the Ithaka Report, looking at wide-ranging topics such as faculty surveys, support services, sustainability questions, Open Access, and research practices. Another consulting group, the Chainbridge Group, which works with scholarly organizations, universities, university presses, and the SPARC Consulting Group, also offers excellent resources for keeping a finger on the pulse of scholarly communications, especially in the area of emerging business models and Open Access.
Books, unlike journals whose delivery and consumption models have largely stabilized, remain in flux; scholarly book publishing continues to “evolve.” Presses remain between two worlds, in limbo, squarely between the print-oriented world of the past (and present), and the digital world of the present (and future).
3. Contemporary Scholarly Publishing: Journals
Unlike book publishing, journals publishing has, for the most part, successfully transitioned to a digital world. Journal publishers have developed the skills (or the partnerships) to exploit print on demand and short-run digital printing for small printings, to implement xml-workflows, to provide online peer-review resources, to work with hosting partners, and to integrate technology and the digital infrastructure so vital to journals publishing. Publishers educated themselves about journals publishing as it was being transformed. What skills are publishers looking for in journals publishing, and how do publishers learn about and acquire the new skills needed in contemporary publishing?
3.1 What Skills Are Publishers Looking for in Journals Staff?
In the context of a university press, when it comes to journals publishing, one of the chief values most prized is “experience.” Because journals publishing successfully moved early on to become chiefly a digital enterprise, many of the issues associated with producing, disseminating, and discovering content are not in flux. Conversations about enriched metadata for journals, digital object identifiers (DOIs), xml-tagging, altmetrics, and search engine optimization are common. Discussions about providing additional services to and tools for authors, contributors, editors, and societies are, if not already established in the past, underway among most journals publishers. Nonetheless, presses look to certain venues to learn the latest.
3.2 Education About Contemporary Journals Publishing
Because only a proportionate handful of university presses publish journals, when it comes to journal-specific information, presses look to organizations like the Society for Scholarly Publishing or the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, both of which offer training and education via webinars and on-site. The Association of American Publishers, too, regularly discusses issues surrounding electronic publishing. But university journal publishers also keep a watchful eye on the large journal publishers, such as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, and Sage. What kinds of services are they providing for the societies they publish or the customer (end-user) they serve? How are these journal publishers exploiting existing technology; for example, how are they using Google Scholar to improve their journals’ performance? Large corporations like those just named have invested millions if not billions in building a technical infrastructure that supports journal publishing. They anticipated (1) production methods would continually change as the technology changed; (2) users needed to be able to analyze their results and search across different journals and across platforms; and (3) information created digitally needed to be managed, organized, and—critically—archived. (4) They also knew that researchers needed their work to rise to the top and influence the scholarly conversation. Technical solutions to these objectives came mainly from commercial entities, although members of the university community recognized the need and the opportunity to develop resources for this new reality. Simultaneously, as journals embraced technology, initiatives arose from universities and university libraries to get in on the action. Many of these impulses came from Open Access–minded institutions, like Simon Fraser, Stanford University, Michigan, and UC-Berkeley. University presses, however, in part because of a lack of financial resources, were not always in a position to start initiatives themselves, but they partnered with those that did. Project Muse, Highwire, and JSTOR afforded opportunities for university presses to participate in the digital revolution. Many university presses looked equally to commercial and to not-for-profit organizations to help move their journals fully into the digital world. They looked to commercial publishers to help them understand how to exploit indexing and abstracting services, to respond to the need for editorial/peer-review workflow tools, and to fulfill other journal-essential tasks. They looked to not-for-profits to help them keep a commitment to affordability.
If one had to posit why journals succeeded in transitioning to a digital world so quickly, the answer probably involves not only the ability of the technology to “do it” but the interest of the “end-user” to take advantage of online journal articles. Thus technology has been embraced both on the side of what the end-user wants and in terms of what a publisher can provide. That combined urgency moved journals into the digital realm far more quickly than books. Groans about high journals pricing and shouts of “Open Access/Author Pays” notwithstanding, the impact of technology has been generally positive for journals. Journal publishers learned and developed very quickly new skill sets and services to meet the rising demand for digital journals. But caught in the middle were small society publishers who, publishing one or two journals, lacked either the financial resources or the publishing resources to produce digital journals with all the editorial, production, and dissemination sophistication of a commercial entity. Some remain caught between the rock of publishing a print-only journal and the hard place of being unable to afford to move to a digital platform. Of course, the real reason dedicated journal publishers embraced technology so quickly is neither a secret nor a surprise: money.
4. Learning Skills for the Future World of Scholarly Communication
So, if publishers in contemporary scholarly publishing are looking for colleagues with skills suitable for both a print and a digital world, what skills are publishers looking for now in anticipation of what a future world of scholarly communication might look like, and where do they find those skills promoted, taught, and refined? This fourth section looks beyond the present toward the future, fully acknowledging such “foresight” is usually mistaken, off the mark, and imperfect. Nonetheless, in the midst of the change, especially in the light of the extraordinary pace of change, publishers cannot always wait to learn from the mistakes of others. As a starting point for thinking about the future world of scholarly communication, one might ask, “What might that future world look like?” The next question would be, “What kinds of skills will be useful?” And then, “Where can publishers find or acquire those skill sets?”
4.1 The Future World of Scholarly Communication
The future world of scholarly publishing will be marked chiefly by a breakdown in who controls the availability of and access to scholarly content and the audience for that content (not just academic). Information may still be “controlled” and will not always be free, but the trend toward more widely available scholarly information outside the confines of a traditional research library—the democratization of information that began with the advent of the Internet age—will increase. Whether or not Open Access makes inroads into the humanities and social sciences in the same way as it has in STEM publishing seems highly debatable. But, if scholarly publishers learned any lesson from journals, it’s that global electronic dissemination of scholarly information on any variety of platforms—phones, tablets, glasses, or devices yet to be invented—will be the rule. The point of access to humanities or social scientific research will begin not at a desk or terminal at a research library per se, but via large bibliographic resources or “digital libraries” like the Social Science Research Network or JSTOR. If groups such as the Digital Library of America, the Hathi Trust, and the Internet Archive move beyond chiefly preserving public domain material, they may have an impact. Moreover, anecdotal reports suggest as well that those accessing scholarly resources will not be restricted to individuals with an edu IP address. Rather, as attested by sites like the Center for Disease Control, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), or the National Institute of Health’s Medline Plus, users from around the world simply want and expect access to reliable information. While these are government-based domains, that’s not always the case. This trend holds true in areas like law as well. LexisNexis is not only a database, it’s a “store.” Similarly, the successes of sites like ancestry.com are incontestable; work formerly done in historical society archives can now be accomplished anywhere, and people are willing to pay for it. Will a retiree interested in Siward’s connection to Malcolm and Donalbain in Shakespeare’s Macbeth be willing to drop money for a scholarly article at JSTOR? Almost certainly. With resources like CrossRef’s free DOI lookup anyone can locate a specific article. For “users” the distinction in genres—journal article, monograph, scholarly book, academic note—will continue to blur. Monographs will be written as long as they remain the sine qua non for promotion and tenure; but they’ll be accessed in discrete units/chapters and will be linked to and integrated with other content, and will include new forms of media.
4.2 What Kinds of Skills Will Be Useful?
First and foremost, publishers need to stay on top of the changes in technology and the marketplace. This doesn’t mean they’re looking for the next generation of hackers, code writers, or programmers, but it does mean that they will hire staff who understand the vocabulary of scholarly communication. Countless desirable skills could be listed, but I want to focus on two skills that will be increasingly useful in scholarly communication: legal and financial skills.
The next generation of “publishers” will need even greater breadth of knowledge when it comes to intellectual property and copyright law. University presses will continue to stand in no-man’s land between respecting the rights of authors, fiscal accountability, and the unstoppable culture of public access, and the widely held notion that “information wants to be free.” Conventional “solutions” to rights issues will need to be rethought, and university presses will find that they need to assess carefully their alignment. Will they hearken to the publishing rhythms of New York City, or will they listen to the different drumbeat coming out of the university communities? Cultural and public trends being mapped at places like the Berkman Center for Internet and Society argue strongly that university presses, especially those with modest revenue streams, will increasingly need to incorporate business models that move away from the traditional “siege mentality” perspective on intellectual property and copyright and toward positions that promote openness and access. Whether university presses like it or whether they agree or not, public opinion and legal decisions such as Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Inc., and Sage Publications, Inc. v Georgia State University do not endear university presses to their universities, nor even to their authors—who might look askance even though they would have stood to benefit financially from a different outcome in that case. Few scholarly authors are in it for the money. University presses risk losing vital support if they persist in aligning themselves against their own academic communities. Or, as a former sales manager used to remind me, “It’s the Golden Rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.” In this case, the universities are the ones with the gold. They, for the most part, make the rules for the majority of university presses, and the signals in universityland clearly favor relaxing fair use interpretations when it comes to published content. Exceptions to the Golden Rule here include—what a surprise—Cambridge and Oxford.
The second area concerns the need for increased financial acumen. Pressure to be financially viable will only grow as universities become increasingly run as businesses or corporations. Publishing is not universally viewed as “core” to that corporation’s mission, and unless university presses can demonstrate and educate their own universities about their value and the nature of their financial operation, they will be at risk. The stunning cluelessness of the University of Missouri administration as to the nature, role, and significance of its university press, for example, was not an anomaly. The attempted closure of the University Press of Missouri was at least a visible, frontal assault. More insidious efforts will slowly and quietly evaporate, dissolve, and absorb presses viewed as expendable. But financial expertise should not limit itself to just making sure that income exceeds expenses; rather, presses will need to develop new revenue streams and add new services that increase their value and the prestige for their universities and for their authors. Most vitally, presses will need to be able to educate administrators, faculty, and colleagues across the campus about what they do and how their work contributes to the mission of higher education. Increased financial accountability will also position presses to work more closely with small societies, to help them with their publishing needs—especially digital publishing needs—and realize their goals and objectives. Many small societies struggle to operate successfully, especially if they are publishing a journal. Unless an organization has a significant member base, publishing that single journal can be financially challenging. University presses are extremely well positioned to achieve scale in journals publishing. They can increase the visibility of societies, promote their authors, enhance the prestige of their publications, and broaden the impact of their “content” in digital environments. Financial skills are especially vital here but technical skills are important as well. Presses need to know how to integrate technology to improve discoverability, anticipate changes in user behavior (who was thinking of tablet delivery five years ago?), exploit social media, and optimize search engine results. They need to be able to provide new author services, such as ORCID registration. And, critically, they’ll need to position themselves to be able to financially afford offering these services.
4.3 Where Can Publishers Find or Acquire Those Skill Sets?
4.3.1 University Press Publishing Resources
Publisher-related organizations will continue to supply a wealth of resources to university presses in the future. The Association of American University Presses hosts vibrant listservs, organizes a well-attended annual conference, provides online resources in a wide variety of publishing areas, and monitors industry-related developments in areas ranging from intellectual property law to technology and international rights. Similarly, the Society for Scholarly Publishing offers webinars, hosts an annual meeting, and connects a network of like-minded scholarly publishing professionals. Even though at times the Association of American Publishers’ positions on copyright, fair use, and author rights do not always reflect a university’s or library’s point of view, the AAP is a vital and essential voice in the dialogue about intellectual property rights and law. A division of AAP, PSP (Professional and Society Publishing) tracks and reports on legislation related to publishing. AAP/PSP offers seminars and “bootcamps” on issues in scholarly publishing. Members of these scholarly communities share information and resources, discuss matters of mutual interest (with extreme sensitivity to legal matters), and advocate for their partners. Besides these large professional organizations, many university presses pay close attention to industry-related developments at commercial publishers, especially the larger ones like Springer, Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and John Wiley & Sons. This reflects a decidedly practical, survivalist mindset. The early bird may get the worm, but the second rat gets the cheese: capitalize on the investments made by others. The extent to which these sizeable publishers have built and sustained the existing scholarly infrastructure cannot be overstated, although it is regularly underappreciated. It is a rare university press that has not in some way benefited from the investments of these large for-profit entities. University presses thus have historically learned and benefited from their commercial counterparts. That will probably continue, but university presses will probably face increased pressure from their universities and university libraries to align less with these commercial entities and more with other not-for-profits; nonetheless, commercially oriented organizations and commercial publishers are critical resources for understanding the place and nature of scholarly communication.
4.3.2 University Presses and Social Media as a Resource for Training
Blogs and social media inform—and are used for sales, marketing, and PR—most scholarly publishers. With the gazillion to choose from, these can quickly become a huge time suck; but they cannot be ignored. Social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, if properly filtered, contain real gems of news, information, developments, tips, and ideas. Perhaps most importantly, social media and blogs allow scholarly publishers to participate in or eavesdrop on related areas of scholarly communication in ways that occurred infrequently in the past.
4.3.3. University Presses and the Library Community
For many years—and even today—one of the principal venues for learning about publishing occurs in the exchanges between scholarly publishers and librarians at the Charleston Library Conference. Presses typically build relationships with the Association of Research Libraries or American and College Research Libraries. They exhibit at the American Library Association’s annual meeting or the so-called Midwinter ALA. University presses always follow closely governmental conversations about proposed legislation, copyright, papers and reports from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and other governmental institutions. But Charleston has been unique as the locus for learning about libraries. Against the Grain was one of a handful of publications besides the Ithaka Report that early on engaged publishers and libraries. What started out as a small national conference focused on collections and acquisitions quickly became international and sweeping; and when technology kicked the door in with digital database deals, big deals, consortia pricing, ebooks, and e-reference—and the serials crisis—libraries and scholarly publishers and vendors recognized that they needed to be talking about new opportunities and challenges. With forces like the Ithaka Report urging libraries and university presses to cooperate, universities began to experiment. Initially, the conversations libraries were having about publishing and the conversations university presses were having about publishing were on two different FM stations. Eventually, each party began to tune in to what the other was saying, and today, press-library cooperation has nearly become commonplace, albeit variegated. One outcome of the variety of relationships between presses and libraries has been exposure, exposure to the other’s culture and exposure to different perspectives on emerging issues in scholarly communication.
4.3.4. The Digital Humanities and the Scholarly Ecosystem
The future “world” or “ecosystem” of scholarly publishing will encompass far more than the publisher-library-vendor complex of the twentieth century. The late twentieth century and the early twenty-first witnessed an explosion of digital initiatives, and several were not based in either presses or libraries. Not all the digital initiatives that sprang up in the 1990s and early 2000s survived, but they altered the landscape of “publishing.” A relatively new but critical site for professional development and learning future skills, thus, resides in the growing world of “digital humanities.” As libraries and university departments watched the impact of the digital revolution on students, researchers, faculty, and “end-users,” they anticipated change, and they began experimenting with digital publishing initiatives. While presses, too, saw things change, their course of action did not always mirror the course of libraries or university departments. The release of publishing tools like the Public Knowledge Project’s set of services or the California Digital Libraries’ XTF, however, caught the attention of not only members of the library community and university departments; university presses, too, especially those in cooperative environments, began to reexamine their roles in future scholarly publishing. For instance, the involvement of university presses in large, digitally driven projects, like the University of Virginia Press’s Rotunda Project or the University of Michigan’s MPublishing (now Michigan Publishing), opened the channels of communication far beyond the “press and library” frequency. Scholarly communication now includes a far-ranging complex of organizations, initiatives, and research centers. University presses, in particular, must participate in and learn from the conversation about scholarly communication taking place in that wider community. New conversations involving a wide range of university involvement—press, libraries, departments, institutes, initiatives— all add up to new educational opportunities, new awareness of the unique challenges in digital publishing, and a new appreciation for the changing nature of scholarly communication that included issues like data curation, e-scholarship, repositories and preservation, metadata standards, database publishing, text mining, and digital humanities. Presses have to take seriously that they risk marginalizing themselves if they do not pay attention to many of the campus-based advances in, and to the changing cultures of, scholarly communication.
Publishing has always been a relational enterprise. Today’s—and the future’s —scholarly publishing ecosystem—and training for that career— must include an awareness of and a relationship with the growing and influential community of the “digital humanities.” Anyone wishing to be a part of the future world of scholarly communication must recognize that the old world of publishing has been forever altered, even though it seems likely that elements of “publishing”— as has been true since the early days of writing—will continue. The new—and future—world of scholarly communication has been expanded, enhanced, and enriched by technology. Understanding that transformation, being willing to adapt to that change, and equipping a future generation of publishers for that new world is the beginning of wisdom when it comes to the future.
Patrick Alexander (@publisher2b, email@example.com) is the director of The Pennsylvania State University Press (@PSUPress) and the co-director of the University Libraries’ Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing. Involved in academic publishing for more than twenty-five years, he regularly participates in the Charleston Library Conference and the Association of American University Presses, where he formerly served as the chair of the AAUP’s Press–Library Relations Committee. His articles have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Against the Grain. He is especially interested in business models for arts and humanities publishing that promote both access and sustainability. He has been consulting and conducting workshops on scholarly communication, writing, and academic publishing for more than twenty years.
The press participates in Books at JSTOR’s ebook program as well as the so-called UPCC Books on Project Muse and has books in Google and NetLibrary, e.g., http://muse.jhu.edu/about/UPCC.html; http://books.jstor.org/.
http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/odsp.html. See Nancy L. Eaton, Bonnie MacEwan, Peter J. Potter, “Learning to Work Together: The Libraries and the University Press at Penn State,” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 35 (4, 2004): 215–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/scp.2004.0020.
H. Wellenreuther, Citizens in a Strange Land: A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730–1830. http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-05937-2.html.
The repository is called ScholarSphere: https://scholarsphere.psu.edu/; digital publishing projects of PSUL include The People’s Contest, a digital archive of the “homefront” of the Civil War (http://peoplescontest.psu.edu/).
Formal publishing courses do exist: e.g., on the one hand, the Yale Publishing Course: http://publishing-course.yale.edu/; and the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver: http://www.du.edu/publishinginstitute/. These programs facilitate entry into the publishing community by providing an overview of the industry and helping connect graduates with the industry. The “workshop” approach (e.g., in “editing” or “marketing”) further underscores the apprenticeship nature of the business/guild of publishing. On the other hand, Emerson College offers an M.A. in Publishing and Writing (http://www.emerson.edu/academics/departments/writing-literature-publishing/graduate-degrees/publishing-writing). This is a far more intensive education in the publishing industry and does equip graduates for entering into the variegated worlds of publishing. See also, e.g., Sarah Lawrence College (http://www.slc.edu/graduate/programs/writing/community/Publishing.html) and DePaul University (http://las.depaul.edu/english/Programs/Graduate/Programs/MAWritingandPublishing/index.asp), whose programs blend training in creative writing with publishing and editing. These programs focus on publishing in the broadest sense, from magazine publishing to poetry, fiction, and journalism. Scholarly publishing, while it shares many of the characteristics of “publishing” (design, marketing, editing, sales & marketing), also occupies a rather unique niche.
Very aptly, the title of former AAUP executive director Peter Givler’s farewell address: http://www.aaupnet.org/about-aaup/aaup-staff/994-givler-farewell-address.
Sandra Lach Arlinghaus and Richard H. Zander Arlinghaus, “Electronic Journals: Then and Now . . . A Fifteen Year Perspective” Solstice 19 (2, 2008). http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/61418. Even though this is a five-year-old report, its insights remain quite useful for charting what occurred during the transformation of journals.
For example, Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2011); Susan M. Bielstein, Permissions, a Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006).
http://www.bisg.org/. BISG, a major publishing trade association, promotes standards and best practices as well as collecting data about publishing trends.
Laura Brown, Rebecca Griffiths, Matthew Rascoff, and Kevin Guthrie, University Publishing in a Digital Age (New York: Ithaka, 2007). http://www.sr.ithaka.org/research-publications/university-publishing-digital-age.
E.g., Raym Crow’s influential “Income Models for Open Access: An Overview of Current Practice” 2009 report prepared for the SPARC Consulting Group: http://sparc.arl.org/resources/papers-guides/oa-income-models.
Clay Shirky’s remarks, “Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away” on Findings.com aside, scholarly book publishing is evolving. http://blog.findings.com/post/20527246081/how-we-will-read-clay-shirky. I suspect a mixture of hyperbole and a nod toward the growing world of self-publishing were on his mind, not scholarly publishing.
E.g., www.scholar.google.com. See, e.g., Jan van Aalst, “Using Google Scholar to Estimate the Impact of Journal Articles in Education,” Educational Researcher 39 (5, 2010): 387–400.
The exciting work coming out of the Public Knowledge Project (http://pkp.sfu.ca/) addresses the dearth of university-based resources for managing publishing projects. But commercial publishers have the advantage of being first to market, of having enormous capital resources, and of having expertly created tools. Open Journals Systems (OJS), Open Monograph Systems (OMS), Open Conference Systems (OCS), and Open Harvester System (OHS) are used by some university presses and university libraries with publishing programs, and have been embraced worldwide.
No one in the humanities and social sciences has been able to pull the economic rabbit of free access out of the hat of high costs; and the government, which does significantly fund STEM publishing does not fund publishing in the arts and humanities. The plan to limit NSF funding for political science (see, e.g., http://chronicle.com/article/Senate-Moves-to-Limit-NSF/138027/) is but the thin edge of the wedge of efforts to defund humanities and social science research. Moreover, the disproportionate funds available for researchers in the NEA or NEH (millions $) versus NIH or NSF (billions $) is simply incomprehensible.
See, e.g., SSRN: http://www.ssrn.com/; DLA: http://dp.la/; Hathi Trust: http://www.hathitrust.org/; Internet Archive: http://archive.org/index.php; or JSTOR: http://www.jstor.org/. The report by Ross Housewright, Roger C. Schonfeld, and Kate Wulfson, “Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2012,” http://www.sr.ithaka.org/research-publications/us-faculty-survey-2012, seems to corroborate this trend toward electronic resources/databases and general search engines and away from library catalogs and libraries (pp. 21, 22). Still, an increase from 2009 to 2012 in “library as starting point,” remains noteworthy (p. 67). The Open Library of the Humanities strives to “provide a platform for Open Access publishing” and new scholarly research in an effort to advance “low cost, sustainable, Open Access” models of publishing in the humanities (https://www.openlibhums.org/).
http://www.lexisnexis.com/store/us/. At this site, anyone can purchase legal reference materials. Lexis Advance, for example is a legal research tool available not only to law schools but to anyone with an ID and a credit card (https://www.lexisnexis.com/).
One of the most pressing questions in scholarly publishing revolves around the current system of promotion and tenure in the arts and humanities that relies on monograph publishing. While that is an enormous issue, it is not an issue that publishers can directly change, so I am purposefully not tackling that question. It is critical, however. An examination of the problem can be found in Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence: Publishing Technology and the Future of the Academy (New York: NYU Press, 2011). http://www.plannedobsolescence.net/kathleen-fitzpatrick/. See also Diane Harley, Sophia Krzys Acord, Shannon Lawrence, and Elise Herrala. 2011. “Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future” (March). http://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/publications.php?id=357. See also: Report of the MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion http://www.mla.org/tenure_promotion.
Often attributed to Stewart Brand, editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, e.g., R. Polk Wagner, “Information Wants to Be Free: Intellectual Property and the Mythologies of Control” Columbia Law Review 103 (May, 2003): 995–1034. www.law.upenn.edu/fac/pwagner/wagner.control.pdf. Wagner’s essay, by the way, offers an interesting and balanced challenge to the notion that there’s too much control in intellectual property law and that it stifles the availability of information in the public domain. He says it just ain’t so (e.g., pp. 997, 1034).
See, e.g., the Berkman Center’s various cyberlaw postings. One, in particular, shows how data is contributing to new models of publishing: “Social Mobilization and the Networked Public Sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA Debate,” 25 July 2013. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/8416. “This novel, data-driven perspective on the dynamics of the networked public sphere supports an optimistic view of the potential for networked democratic participation, and offers a view of a vibrant, diverse, and decentralized networked public sphere that exhibited broad participation, leveraged topical expertise, and focused public sentiment to shape national public policy.” Compare the findings here to Wagner’s observations in note 35 for another angle on control-based IP law.
One might observe a different message when it comes to patent law and universities, but particularly in the research library community, relaxing fair use interpretations is an ongoing agenda item. See, e.g., the Association of Research Libraries “Code of Best Practice in Fair Use,” http://www.arl.org/focus-areas/copyright-ip/fair-use/code-of-best-practices.
Most presses have Twitter and Facebook accounts for publicity and promotion. They inevitably become resources of shared industry news and information. Presses typically follow blogs and listserves too, including library-oriented listserves like Liblicense. One of the most-followed and useful blogs is the Society of Scholarly Publishing’s Scholarly Kitchen (http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/).
Brown et al., University Publishing in a Digital Age. Against the Grain the brainchild of the College of Charleston’s Katina Strauch, can be found at http://www.against-the-grain.com/. See also a discussion of these early configurations including Penn State’s University Libraries Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing: “Newfound Press: The Digital Imprint of the University of Tennessee Libraries,” First Monday 12 (10, 1 October 2007). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1968/1843.
Note, e.g., also the Journal of Electronic Publishing (since 1995; http://www.journalofelectronicpublishing.org/) and Journal of Scholarly Publishing (since 1968; University of Toronto Press), and the cooperatively published Learned Publishing (since 1987; by ALPSP and SSP: http://www.alpsp.org/Ebusiness/ResearchPublications/LearnedPublishing.aspx).
The Google Books case did nothing to improve communication. University presses and universities libraries found themselves at loggerheads over Google’s scanning of millions of research libraries’ holdings in copyright books. See, e.g., in July of 2013, Google won a reversal on the class-action status in the Author’s Guild lawsuit (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-01/google-books-plaintiffs-lose-class-status-over-fair-use.html).
But a few examples of press-library cooperation include University of Michigan, University of Virginia, University of California, University of Utah, New York University, MIT Press, Columbia University, Pennsylvania State University, Utah State University, Purdue University, Northwestern University. See the excellent ARL-sponsored internal report, Charlotte Roh, “Library-Press Collaboration,” University of Arizona Library and University of Arizona Press (19 July 2013).
http://publishing.umich.edu. The University of Michigan Press is now part of the larger organization of publishing services at the university, Michigan Publishing.
Just to name a few besides the University of Virginia Press’s Rotunda (funded in part by Andrew Mellon; http://www.upress.virginia.edu/rotunda/); Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (started with the help of an NEH Challenge Grant; http://mith.umd.edu/community/history/); the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University (http://chnm.gmu.edu/tag/digital-humanities/); California Digital Library (http://www.cdlib.org/; funded in part by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation); University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (http://cdrh.unl.edu/); in the sciences one can point to Cornell University Libraries’ arXiv (http://arxiv.org/), to their partnership with Duke University Press in Project Euclid (http://projecteuclid.org/DPubS?Service=UI&version=1.0&verb=Display&handle=euclid), and to Stanford’s Highwire platform (http://highwire.stanford.edu/). Anvil Academic (http://anvilacademic.org/) seeks to be a scholarly publisher of “born digital” and “born-again-digital” research.
Chronicle of Higher Education, has been following conversations about scholarly communication fairly closely. The regular blog, “ProfHacker: Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity,” frequently touches on issues related to digital humanities, publishing, and technology (e.g., http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/). What’s happening on the ground in universities is vital; another excellent opportunity for learning can be had at the various THATCamps (http://thatcamp.org/), sponsored by the George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Other organizations that provide educational opportunities about the intersection of scholarly communication and technology include: Educause (http://www.educause.edu/); Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR: [formerly http://connect.clir.org/ConnectHome]); Coalition for Networked Information (http://www.cni.org/); Educopia’s Library Publishing Coalition (http://www.educopia.org/programs/lpc).