University Press Redux: The Return

By Lara Speicher, on 16 November 2017

For me, and I think for many others in the university press sector, the first University Press Redux Conference in March 2016 marked a sea change in the way UK university presses are seen, and see themselves.

Kick-started by the momentum generated by the Academic Book of the Futureproject (a two-year research project into the scholarly publishing industry, funded and supported by AHRC and the British Library, 2015-2017), the first University Press Redux Conference in Liverpool in March 2016 was launched by Anthony Cond, Managing Director of Liverpool University Press (winner of both the Bookseller and the IPG Awards for Independent Academic Publisher of the Year in 2015).

I use the word ‘launched’ deliberately, since ‘organised’ does not fully convey what Anthony achieved in that first conference. Attended by over 150 delegates from around the world and with speakers from the US, UK and Europe covering all aspects of university press (UP) activities, and with representatives from all levels and functions, the conference offered an opportunity on this side of the Atlantic for university presses to meet, discuss and exchange ideas and information. The mood was buoyant, the presentations were stimulating, and we all learnt a huge amount.

Redux 2016 happened at a particular moment, which also helps to explain its success. Scholarly publishing is undergoing significant change, with a challenging market, changes in library supply, digital distribution, new HE policies, and changing university missions which have led to a reexamination of the purpose of university presses. At the same time, many new presses have been springing up, signaling a desire on the part of institutions to do things differently. Redux was an opportunity to share those challenges and changes with all those who work in the sector – not just the UPs, but also the affiliated sectors that we work with: libraries, authors, academics, suppliers, policy makers, funders and our own institutions.

The things that shone through clearly to me during that conference were threefold:

1) that we are a ‘thing’, with distinct skills, responsibilities and challenges, quite different from scholarly publishing generally, even though we share many similarities
2) that despite our shared identity, we are also remarkably diverse in our outputs, activities, practices, sizes and missions
3) that we should be incredibly proud of what we do, and that our parent institutions should also be incredibly proud of what we do for scholarship and for our universities’ brand recognition

And what also came through very clearly was the feeling that we must do this again.

And so Redux was born as a regular event on the conference calendar. The University Press Redux 2018 takes place on 13-14 February 2018, at the British Library Conference Centre. It will take place every two years, and it is now ably supported by ALPSP, putting it on a firm footing for the future. Each conference will be hosted in a different location by a different university press which is responsible for organizing the speakers and the programme.

I volunteered for Redux 2018 for the main reason that having only launched in 2015, UCL is very new university press with a fully open access model which is still very unusual. As such, UCL Press is keen to collaborate as much as possible with other university presses – to help establish itself, to learn, and to share its experience of its OA model. But also, I volunteered because it’s fun. I think we are incredibly lucky to work in such a collegial sector. There is a genuine eagerness to collaborate and help each other which really stands out.

Registration for Redux 2018 bookings is now open and well underway – please join us for two full days of stimulating conversation and presentations. We look forward to seeing you in February!

Frankfurt Book Fair

By Lara Speicher, on 24 October 2017

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the oldest and largest book fair in the world. Founded in 1454, it has taken place regularly ever since, and it attracts more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and over 278,000 visitors annuallydownload(2016 figures). It has five separate halls each with several floors. The Fair has a dual purpose: for most international publishers it is a trade fair where they come to do business every year: to sell international rights, and meet with suppliers and other collaborators and colleagues, and that is what the first three days of the Fair are devoted to. For many of the German publishers, it is very much a Fair to promote their new books to the public, and visitors come at the weekend to see the displays of books and attend author presentations.

Each year there is a country of honour, and this year it was France. The Fair was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, demonstrating the importance of the Fair to international trade and culture. Every day on the German news there are reports from the Fair’s activities, showing the central place it holds ifbfn the country’s calendar.

This year was the first year that UCL Press exhibited. We had a small stand in Hall 4.2 where we were surrounded by other UK and European university presses, and other science publishers and small scholarly publishers. I attended for the first three days then Jaimee Biggins, UCL Press’s Managing Editor, came to look after the stand for the weekend and attend a Convention of International University Presses (see here for more).

I had over 25 meetings during the three days I was there, and among those I met were other university presses and other institutions with whom we have collaborative projects already happening or in development, such as Chicago and Cornell University Presses; other university presses for sharing of knowledge and information, such as Sydney University Press and Wits University Press; publishing associations with whom we are collaborating such as the Association of American University Presses, the Association of European University Presses and ALPSP; our existing suppliers and distributors such as NBN, OAPEN, JSTOR and Science Open; and potential new suppliers and collaborators.

Among the most interesting of this last category was a company called Baobab who distribute both print and ebooks to African university libraries. As an open access publisher with a mission to disseminate scholarly research around the globe, I was particularly keen to hear whether Baobab might be able to help UCL Press distribute its open access books to African university libraries. It turned out that Baobab has an existing service that distributes free ebooks on behalf of NGOs and aid agencies that UCL Press can take part in. Although OA books are made freely available online, ensuring that they reach targeted communities is not always easy since OA supply chains for monographs are not fully developed. So this new partnership is very encouraging and exciting, and it meets one of the key drivers of UCL’s global strategic objective of ‘increasing independent research capability around the world’ by making high-quality scholarly research freely available.

All in all it was a very worthwhile event for raising UCL Press’s profile, strengthening our existing relationships, and forging new ones, and we are already planning Frankfurt 2018!

The International Convention of University Presses

By Jaimee Biggins, on 23 October 2017

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books. It takes place in October every year. UCL Press had a stand at the Fair this year where we could showcase our books, and have meetings with other academic publishers and suppliers. While at the Fair, I attended the 5th International Convention of University Presses. The Convention featured about 100 representatives from more than 22 countries and each year it offers an opportunity to discuss new trends in international academic publishing. It is a great way to network with other university presses and those working in academic publishing and gain an international perspective.

The topic this year was ‘Translation: Unlocking New Worlds of Ideas’. The day focussed mainly on foreign language authors who want to be translated into English. The keynote ‘What factors determine the circulation of scholarly books in translation?’ by Gisèle Sapiro (Director of Research at the CNRS –The French National Center for Scientific Research) set the scene for the discussion. It sparked quite a debate especially around the funding for translation of scholarly works. Scholarly books are costly to translate and do not sell many copies, so there is quite a dependence on subsidies. Other sources of funding are international organisations and private foundations. Also interesting to note is the trend of scholars choosing to write in English so they will be read right away – this is sometimes at the sacrifice of publishing in their national language. There is also a certain pressure by publishers on academics to publish in English to gain access to the widest readership possible.

In the round table discussion there was a presentation of different translation grant programmes, with speakers from organisations in countries such as Canada, Germany, Norway and France all outlining funding programmes that support translation. It was interesting to hear about schemes to support authors by offering grants which cover the cost of translation and also expenses such as book launches and promotional activities. All of the programmes aimed to make academic books more visible through translations. The criteria for this funding varied – for example the Council for the Arts, Canada, base their funding on the impact, merit and feasibility of the project. Unfortunately it is a trend that there are many more applications received than grants available. Astrid Thorn Hillig from the Association of European University Presses said that university presses need to come together collectively to claim the importance of translations and support more translations.

The day ended with pitching of a number of projects for translation by various publishers. Each speaker had two minutes to pitch their potential project, offering a synopsis of the book, and the selling points which provide a case for it to be translated. All in all the day was a real eye-opener into the world of translation and was a great way to connect with international colleagues.

COASP – Conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (Lisbon, 20-21 September 2017)

By Lara Speicher, on 27 September 2017

The annual conference organised by OASPA took place in Lisbon this year, and for the first time members of UCL Press were there to present a paper and to attend the conference. Now in its 9th year, COASP presents a key opportunity for publishers and affiliated colleagues – such as librarians, funding agencies, government, academics and higher education communities – to gather and discuss developments in open access for scholarly research.

This year’s conference started with an inspiring talk by Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Open Data Policy and Science Cloud for the European Commission, who outlined the Commission’s vision for open access to scholarly research. This included an announcement that the Commission would start to publish articles themselves and would be seeking a partner to provide a journal publishing platform with fast publication times and open peer review, along the lines of that adopted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust (both of whom use the F1000 publishing platform).

Sessions followed on open infrastructure, APCs, research evaluation and assessment and peer review, with speakers including the Head of Scholarly Communications at Cambridge University Library, Danny Kingsley, the Publisher for PLOS, Louise Page, and the Head of Open Research for the Wellcome Trust, Robert Kiley. Interspersed, were panel presentations featuring related initiatives in OA infrastructure, policy and publishing.

The conference and the society are geared towards scientific journals, and there was therefore very little on OA monograph publishing. I was on the only panel discussing OA book publishing, focussing on peer review for OA monographs, along with Anke Beck, CEO of De Gruyter, and Aina Svensson, Head of the Electronic Publishing Centre at Uppsala University Library. Many delegates commented after our presentations on how different peer review is for books than for journals, since it involves considerably more editorial development and discussion, and often makes a significant contribution towards the shaping of the overall book, rather than simply evaluating quality.

Overall, it was an immensely useful couple of days and, as always at conferences, it was also a chance to see our many colleagues and partners in the industry who come from far and wide and who we don’t see very often, and to meet new publishers and hear about other initiatives and practices from around the world. I was particularly interested to meet the university presses of the University of Technology Sydney and Adelaide University, who both have thriving OA book and journal publishing programmes. It was also great to meet the Head of University of Missouri Library’s Open Scholarship and Publishing Services, who have a fantastic open access textbook programme that has seen great success so far, and from which UCL Press’s developing OA textbook programme can draw inspiration.

Join us at the launch of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History

By Alison Major, on 27 September 2017

Join the UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World, the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies and UCL Press to celebrate the publication of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, edited by Zoltán Biedermann (UCL) and Alan Strathern (Oxford).

Date: 30th October 2017, 6-8pm

Location: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies

All welcome, but registration is required

The peoples of Sri Lanka have participated in far-flung trading networks, religious formations, and Asian and European empires for millennia. This interdisciplinary volume sets out to draw Sri Lanka into the field of Asian and Global History by showing how the latest wave of scholarship has explored the island as a ‘crossroads’, a place defined by its openness to movement across the Indian Ocean. Experts in the history, archaeology, literature and art of the island from c.500 BCE to c.1850 CE use Lankan material to explore the history and historiography of Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean region, kingship, colonialism, imperialism, and early modernity.

Read more about the book here.

Where does the born- and reborn-digital material take the Digital Humanities?

By Chris J Penfold, on 22 May 2017

w-a-hOn 18 May 2017, Niels Brügger, Professor of Internet Studies and Digital Humanities at Aarhus University in Denmark, and co-editor of The Web as History, delivered the third lecture in the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities annual Susan Hockey lecture series. With a focus on archiving, the lecture investigated the different types of digital media and explored how each type can be used for scholarly purposes.

Understanding the web’s function as an archive requires a grasp of its scale, yet the amount of data added to the web on any given day is difficult to fathom. Google processes over 20 petabytes of digitised data, born-digital data and reborn-digital data every 24 hours – that’s over 20 million gigabytes. But how do we archive this volume of information? How can we preserve the contents of news websites that have a shelf life of a day, or even an hour?

The web is where, and how, future researchers will learn about the 21st century, and so the importance of archiving – deciding which parts of the web should be preserved, how often, and by whom – increases with every petabyte of new data. As with any collection of documents, the ways in which they are collected and curated determines how they can be used by future researchers, across the Digital Humanities and beyond. The web is the equivalent of the letters, novels and artworks of the past, yet it offers a place in history for not only the artists and writers of our time but for everyone who uses it.

Anyone interested in the topic should read The Web as History, available to download for free here.

Launch event: Europe and the World: A Law Review

By Ian Caswell, on 19 May 2017

Join UCL Press and UCL Laws for the launch of a brand new journal: Europe and the World: A Law Review

Date/ Time: Monday 19 June 2017, 18:00 – 19:00

Location: UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Entry is free, but pre-booking is required, as this will be a popular event!

Keynote speech from
Prof. Miguel Poiares Maduro (European University Institute)

Chair
Caroline Wilson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

About the journal

Europe and the World – A Law Review aims to contribute to legal scholarship on the place of Europe in the world, with a particular but by no means exclusive focus on the EU’s external relations law.

 The journal serves as a forum where the national, international and EU perspectives meet and engage. The journal is therefore irreverent of traditional distinctions between EU, international, and national law. While primarily offering legal doctrinal and theoretical analyses, the journal also publishes multi-disciplinary work and political science and international relations contributions with an external perspective on the law of EU’s external relations.

Journal includes 4 articles  and 1 editorial:

  • ‘Making Transnational Markets: The institutional politics behind the TTIP’, Marija Bartl.
  • ‘The EU and International Dispute Settlement’, Allan Rosas.
  • ‘Of Presidents, High Representatives and European Commissioners: The external representation of the European Union seven years after Lisbon’, Frank Hoffmeister.
  • ‘(Not) Losing Out from Brexit’, Annette Schrauwen.
  • Editorial

JISC Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop

By Jaimee Biggins, on 17 May 2017

UCL Press is delighted to be taking part in JISC’s Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop on Friday  four-year institution as e-textbook publisher project which investigates the viability of higher education institutions publishing their own e-textbooks.  Book now to reserve your place.

Projects have been undertaken by UCL Press,  University of LiverpoolUniversity of Nottingham and University of the Highlands and Islands with Edinburgh Napier University. The overall objective is to assess whether the textbooks that have been created provide:

  • A more affordable higher education for students
  • Better value for money than commercial alternatives
  • An improved, more sustainable information environment for all

During the project, participating institutions are creating eight textbooks covering a range of subjects, applying business, licensing and distribution models and reporting back on the impact, value and viability of the models they choose.

Workshop overview

The four project teams will reflect back on the last three years of the project under a number of broad themes:

  • Costs: how long did the books take to write, what were the hidden costs?
  • Benchmarking: cost benefit analysis and evidence to invest in more e-textbooks
  • Technology: the technology used including lessons learned and issues faced
  • Licensing: issues encountered including CC licenses, 3rd party copyright issues
  • Dissemination, distributions and discovery: concepts and process behind the dissemination, uptake, and wider adoption of the e-textbooks
  • Uptake: evidence of usage by students and courses
  • Feedback: Would the authors do it again, would they act as champions?
  • Implications of implementation: What are the implications for the wider adoption of the e-textbooks at other institutions?

Delegates will be encouraged to make notes on these areas and to contribute thoughts and ideas in relation to their own institutions in the afternoon workshop. This will allow participants to discuss the themes and look at the notes made by others. These ideas will help shape a proposed toolkit for institutions, which will be a major outcome of the project.

The workshop will appeal to potential authors, librarians, learning technologists and senior university staff who may wish to consider publishing their own e-textbooks. Find out more here.

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!