“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.
Librarians have long sought more guidance on self-published books as well as books by authors of color. Aiming to answer both needs is a new award offered by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and BiblioBoard (the company that partners with LJ on SELF-e), called the SELF-e Literary Award.
When the adult coloring craze jumped across the pond in 2013 with the intricate designs of Johanna Basford’s UK best seller Secret Garden (Laurence King), Dover Publications was ready. The company had been publishing coloring books for 45 years, not just for kids but for experienced artists as well, said Ken Katzman, VP, marketing. In 2012, encouraged by major craft chain Michaels, Dover launched Creative Haven, with images on only one side of a page, on good stock, with perforated pages for easy removal and display.
On February 3 HarperCollins announced that it would be publishing a sequel to Nelle Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird. In the wake of the news, speculation about Go Set a Watchman’s provenance abounded: Is it a sequel to Mockingbird, or a first draft? Did Lee’s lawyer actually discover the manuscript in a safe-deposit box after it was believed lost for decades? Was the timing of its discovery only two and a half months after the death of Lee’s sister Alice, often considered to be her protector, a coincidence?
After years of expressing concern about the potential impact that library lending might have on consumer sales, major publishers have good cause to take another look at the library market for ebooks, according to executives from library ebook distributors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. With consumer sales growth slowing, bolstering institutional sales will likely become more of a priority for major publishers. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash noted that publishers, like all for-profit companies, are always looking for growth, and “there’s still a lot a growth in institutions, and there [are] significant opportunities for growth in education…. If retail is flattening, you have to experiment.”