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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

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