Serving the public good has long been the mandate of all libraries. Providing everyone with access to information, without regard to income or demographic differences, is perhaps a library’s most noble aspiration. For patrons with visual challenges, this has meant providing books in multiple formats, including large print.
Hachette Book Group (HBG) announced on March 1 that it had entered into an agreement to buy the Perseus Books Group, an independent publishing company. On March 3, Ingram Content Group announced its plans to purchase Perseus’s distribution operations. The two agreements come a little more than 18 months after an initial deal to sell Perseus’s entire operation to HBG fell through. Both parties hope to close the deals by the end of March, pending regulatory approval. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The New York Public Library in December announced a new partnership with nonprofit Benetech, and the organization’s Bookshare solution, to provide print disabled patrons with access to more than 370,000 accessible ebooks through NYPL and the Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. Although Bookshare provides free access to its collection for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities through an award by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, access to the collection for qualifying adults, seniors, and other non-students generally requires payment of a $25 setup fee and a $50 annual subscription fee. The partnership to provide free access to library patrons through NYPL is Bookshare’s first such partnership with a U.S. library, and Benetech officials have stated that the organization is hoping to establish similar agreements with public libraries throughout the U.S.
Oyster, the $9.95 all-you-can-read monthly ebook subscription service that came on the scene in 2013, quietly announced on its blog that it “will be taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months,” according to tech news site Re/Code. Perseus Books Group, home to publishers including Basic Books, Da Capo Press, Running Press, Public Affairs, and Avalon Travel, as well as one of the leading providers of distribution and client services to 600-plus independent publishers through PGW, Consortium, Legato, et al., announced in early September that it is once again up for sale.
“Altmetrics: A manifesto,” published five years ago this month, described an academic publishing landscape in which the volume of literature was exploding, and the three traditional filters used to help researchers gauge the relative importance of individual papers in their fields—peer review, citation counting, and a journal’s average citations per article—were failing to keep up. Scholars were moving their work onto the web, and alternative, article-level metrics drawn from online reference managers Zotero and Mendeley, scholarly social bookmarking services such as CiteULike, or even page-views of blogs and “likes” or comments on mainstream social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used to track the impact of new research in real time, wrote Impactstory cofounder Jason Priem; Wikimedia Foundation head of research Dario Taraborelli; Paul Groth, then-researcher VU University Amsterdam; and Cameron Neylon, then–senior scientist at the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Could these new metrics be just as relevant as peer review and citations when judging the impact and influence of new research?
Oxford University Press (OUP) and the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library have joined forces on The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources, a hybrid print book and interactive digital archive. Compiled over nearly four decades by Margaret Pabst Battin, distinguished professor of philosophy and medical ethics at the university, the scholarly work comprises a 752-page volume published by OUP, linked via embedded QR codes to an extensive archive of source material hosted by the Marriott Library. The searchable archive contains excerpts, links to primary texts where available, and local library catalog records, and can be accessed independently of the book and free of charge. In addition, readers may submit comments to the archive—corrections, addenda, or suggestions of other material for inclusion.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will award $1.7 million in grants to 36 writers through its Public Scholar program, it announced on July 29. Open to authors of scholarly nonfiction, whether affiliated with an academic institution or writing independently, the Public Scholar program offers a $4,200 monthly stipend for periods from six months up to one year. Its ultimate goal, according to the NEH, is to “bring humanities scholarship beyond academic departments and university campuses and into book clubs and best-seller lists.”
When the University of Akron (UA), OH, revealed plans on July 27 to restructure the University of Akron Press (UAP) and terminate its three full-time employees, the decision was met with a mixture of dismay and confusion. As part of a campus-wide effort to trim the university’s $367 million FY15 budget by $40 million before the beginning of the fall semester—which included cutting more than 200 other jobs as well as the school’s baseball program—UAP editorial and design coordinator Amy Freels and print manufacturing and digital production coordinator Carol Slatter were given two weeks’ notice. Press director Thomas Bacher was told to take two weeks’ paid leave, after which he would serve out the remainder of his contract through January 2016. Associate professor of English Jon Miller was named transitional director of the press.