London Book Fair 2017

By Lara Speicher, on 31 March 2017

The London Book Fair is one of the highlights of the year for many publishers from all over the world, and is one of two key annual publisher trade fairs, along with the Frankfurt Book Fair held in October every year. This year, there were 1,577 exhibitors from 57 countries, showing their books and services and meeting with their business partners. For many publishers at the Fair, selling rights to publishers in other countries is the main purpose. UCL lbfPress had a stand this year on the IPG (Independent Publishers’ Guild) collective stand, and all UCL Press staff spent two or three days at the Fair, having meetings and attending seminars.

Altogether we had over 40 meetings over the three days, Lara took part in two panel sessions in The Faculty area (one on the Academic Book of the Future project, and one with Ingenta and Wiley on how to reach readers in a world of overwhelming content), and Press staff attended several seminars relevant to their roles. Our meetings were with existing partners and suppliers, freelance editors and designers, our counterparts at other university presses, as well as potential new suppliers and partners. We also had chance meetings with many others who saw our stand and came to talk to us – booksellers, sales representatives, editors etc. Even before the Fair, a number of meetings had already taken place with people who were in town for the Falbfir – Jaimee (UCL Press Managing Editor) met up with the Managing Editors and Production Managers of other university presses, a regular twice-yearly meet up for sharing knowledge, and Lara met up with the Association of American University Presses Director who are helping the Press with a number of interesting projects.

At such a critical point in UCL Press’s development, when we are in the process of appointing a North American distributor, developing a new website, expanding to 50 books a year, planning a major conference for university presses in 2018 (University Press Redux 2018), participating in a European OA infrastructure project (OPERAS), developing publishing services for other institutions and reviewing journal publishing models, the Fair was the perfect opportunity to advance all these projects with key people and potential new partners in one intensive block. It also enhances visibility for the Press via the stand, appearances on discussion panels, and articles and interviews by staff links.

We were also very proud to see the UCL Publishing Studies MA students launching the magazine element of their new student journal, Interscript, which is hosted on UCL Press’s OA student journal platform. With plenty of social media promotion, publicity at the Fair and a launch at the Association of Publishing Educators’ stand, it has got off to a very promising start. It’s inspiring to see the publishers of the future in action.

Altogether, the Fair provides a very exciting and collegial environment. As ever after the Fair, I have come away feeling that I have learnt a great deal, forged new relationships and been inspired by the sheer creativity and commitment of my fellow publishers.

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UCL Press and Academic Book of the Future BOOC presentation

By Jaimee Biggins, on 31 January 2017

Last week Lara Speicher (Publishing Manager, UCL Press) and I presented a session at the British Library on UCL Press and its new online BOOC platform as part of the second Academic Book Week (23-28 January 2017). Our presentation consisted of an overview of UCL Press followed by an introduction to our new online publication platform, BOOC (to be launched in February 2017).  BOOC stands for Books as Open Online Content, and the format consists of a living book that is hosted on a browser-based platform. Material includes traditional content such as reports and presentations alongside non-traditional genres such as videos, presentations, blogs and Storifys. The first project to be published on BOOC is content from the Academic Book of the Future research project, (a project funded by the AHRC and British Library and run by academics at UCL and King’s College London to investigate the future of the academic book) and the pieces included are peer reviewed contributions from industry professionals and academics involved in the project. Content can be added to the platform over time rather than in one go allowing for an ongoing, dynamic evolution.

The audience at our talk was made up of librarians, academics, booksellers and other people invested in the academic book. There was genuine interest in the UCL Press model and we received some questions about funding and how academics had reacted to us within the institution.  It was great to show the impact UCL Press has achieved in terms of download figures and number of countries reached since launching in June 2015.  There was also real engagement from the audience about BOOC. Questions that came up included: how does copyright deposit work with something like BOOC? How are BOOC articles cited? What license does BOOC use? Does BOOC have an ISBN?  Is BOOC actually a book or is it just a collection of articles? The latter question feeds directly into the debates that were core to the Academic Book of the Future project – these questions still need to be answered. How do we define an academic book? Is a book a stable thing? What about new editions? Editors of BOOC, Dr Samantha Rayner and Rebecca Lyons were on hand to talk about this. They also discussed the process of curating the material for BOOC and their role as a quality checkpoint along the way. We also gave a demo of BOOC and got very useful feedback from the audience. Most people seemed to admire the clean, simple layout of the site. We had some questions about the searchability functions of BOOC and whether content tagging could be used so that users could click on a keyword and be taken to content on that subject. Others said a bookmarking tool would be useful. We will feedback on this to our digital developer. The beauty of BOOC is that improvements can be made over time. We were pleased with the interesting discussion our talk sparked and look forward to following the continued debates about the future of the academic book!

New University Presses

By Lara Speicher, on 24 October 2016

On 12 October, some of the UCL Press team attended the launch of the first book published by the recently established University of Westminster Press, a fellow open access press. It was a well-attended event that took place in the beautiful Fyvie Hall in the Regent Street Campus. Speeches by the Provost, Professor Graham Megson, and the Press Manager, Andrew Lockett, described the motivations behind the setting up of an open access press. Professor Christian Fuchs, described as one of the world’s leading theorists of digital media, and author of UWP’s launch title, Critical Theory of Communication, spoke engagingly about the book, which offers a vital set of new insights on how communication operates in the age of information, digital media and social media. This is the first book in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series (edited by Professor Fuchs), which has a promising list of titles to look forward to.

University of Westminster Press is one of four new open access university presses that launched in 2015, of which UCL Press was the first, followed by UWP, White Rose University Press (a consortium of Leeds, Sheffield and York universities) and Cardiff University Press. In further UK university press developments, Goldsmiths Press launched its first title in May this year, and declares its interest in publishing non-traditional works that explore the very purpose of why academics publish. And just this week, Policy Press (established at Bristol University 20 years ago), announced that they would be expanding to establish University of Bristol Press, with a wider remit.

This revival of interest in university presses saw the establishment of a conference earlier this year, the University Press Redux, the first conference to be held in the UK dedicated to university presses, and initiated by the Academic Book of the Future project (we look forward to its report, due out later this year after a two-year study by academics at UCL and Kings College London). One-hundred-and-fifty delegates from UK, US and European university presses – large and small, new and old – gathered to discuss industry developments and challenges. Those discussions are reflected in a special open access issue of Learned Publishing, the journal of the ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers). Featuring articles by the heads of various university presses including California, Manchester, Liverpool, UCL, Westminster and Goldsmiths, the issue is a fascinating snapshot of the university press scene and scholarly publishing at a pivotal moment in its history. Read more here.

Lara Speicher

Publishing Manager, UCL Press

24.10.16

Writing the Academic Book of the Future

By Rebecca E Lyons, on 8 August 2016

The Academic Book of the Future is a two-year AHRC and British Library-funded project investigating the academic book in its current and emerging contexts. The Project has worked closely and collaboratively with a wide range of community partners, including individuals and groups from academia, publishing, bookselling, libraries, and other areas invested in the academic book in order to explore its possible future(s).

For the inaugural Academic Book Week (9-16 November 2015) we worked with Palgrave Macmillan on an innovative publication – a Palgrave Pivot called The Academic Book of the Future. It was innovative for the incredibly ambitious deadlines involved; the interdisciplinary (even experimental) nature of the content; the fact that most of the authors are not academics; and that it is Open Access, which makes it completely free to download.

The Project found the process of collaboratively creating this publication incredibly fruitful, not just in terms of the partnerships formed or the content created, but also for the new directions for working that were suggested by the entire process. It was a successful experiment in Practice-as-Research: the Project had dipped its toe in the water of one of the possible futures of the academic book, and had found the experience hugely rewarding.

Now, co-editors Dr Samantha Rayner and Rebecca Lyons are building upon this experience and working with UCL Press on an exciting new publication project called The Academic Book of the Future. As with the Palgrave Pivot, the spirit of innovation and collaboration – as well as academic rigour – is key. This new peer-reviewed publication will take the form of a BOOC (Book as Open Online Content – a term coined by UCL’s Professor Melissa Terras), which means that the content will take a range of forms and formats – traditional and otherwise – including textual pieces such as chapters and reports, but also videos, blogs, and even Storifies and curated email conversations.

We are delighted to be working with UCL Press on this project – they have fully embraced the spirit of innovation involved, and have offered both flexibility and dynamism in terms of the technical aspects of this new type of publication (the BOOC), as well as the consummate professionalism expected from a university press. Added to this, half of the Project team is based at UCL, and we are thrilled to work with this bright new internal partner.

We have written more extensively about why we’re publishing this BOOC with UCL Press on the LSE Review of Books blog, here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2016/03/23/feature-the-academic-book-of-the-future-practice-as-research-by-rebecca-lyons/

About the authors

Samantha Rayner is Director of the Centre for Publishing and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at UCL. In addition, she is Principal Investigator on the AHRC/British Library Academic Book of the Future Project. Rebecca Lyons is Research Associate for the AHRC/ British Library Academic Book of the Future Project. Find out more about their publication, The Academic Book of the Futurehttp://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/academic-book-of-the-future

Audio and Audio-Visual Academic Book of the Future

By Chris J Penfold, on 23 June 2016

On 23 May I was invited to speak at the ‘Audio and Audio-Visual Academic Book of the Future’ event, a symposium hosted by the British Library. The event was convened by Steven Dryden, a sound librarian at the BL, and aimed to bring together publishers, librarians and researchers to discuss the use of audio-visual content in scholarly books. I presented alongside two other speakers: Richard Mason, a novelist who showcased his new co-venture, Orson & Co, a platform that publishes audio-visual books, and Rebecca Lyons, who provided an overview of the Academic Book of the Future project, which she co-investigates.

Following the three presentations, the group engaged in an open discussion where all delegates reflected on their experiences of working with AV content in their careers or in their research. One question, which was pertinent to those attending from the BL, was on the issue of archiving: how do we determine which version of a book is the original when it is published simultaneously in different formats? Are ISBNs enough to identify each version, and how realistic is a future in which copyright clearance will be required for multiple e-formats even though print rights are challenging enough for authors to secure?

The floor was offered to a number of the ECRs in attendance who discussed their practice-based research and collectively emphasised a need for broader publishing options. They also raised the issue of attribution and lamented the difficulty of describing their contributions to online platforms and non-traditional forms of publishing. It was agreed that continued collaboration will be required between authors, publishers, librarians, archivists and coders to build a future in which AV content can be welcomed as a critical component of online publishing rather than viewed as an awkward luxury.