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UCL Press – One Year, and 35,000 Readers On

LaraSpeicher13 June 2016

UCL Press infographic1As we celebrate our first year of publishing, it is apposite to pause for a moment and look back at all that has happened, before we launch into busy and exciting plans for the future. Most pleasing is the wide readership our books are reaching – in one year, our books and journals have reached a combined total of over 35,000 readers in over 160 countries round the world. That’s an average of nearly 3,000 downloads per book. In an age when many scholarly monograph publishers report sales figures of around 400 copies in print, it’s a really encouraging response.

Our open access model is proving to be very popular with authors too and we have had well over 150 book and journal proposals. Since we launched in June 2015 as the UK’s first fully open access university press, it has also been interesting to see the publishing landscape changing and more new university presses spring up, many of them also open access, including Westminster University Press, White Rose University Press and Cardiff University Press. Goldsmiths also launched its new press recently with a mission of publishing innovative and less constrained academic works.

We have published 14 books and 3 journals so far in a wide range of subjects including archaeology, anthropology, Jewish studies, urban studies and history, and

UCL Press infographic5the forward programme is building up quickly. In 2017 we are on course to publish 35 books and several more journals. Later this year and next year we look forward to publishing our first textbooks, on plastic surgery and public archaeology. We are publishing our first popular science book called Why Icebergs Float (Andrew Morris), a book that examines urban food production as a potential solution to the global food crisis (Sustainable Food Systems by Robert Biel), and our first BOOC (Books as Open Online Content), an innovative digital format that will launch with the outputs of the Academic Book of the Future project, an AHRC/British Library project led by academics at UCL and Kings College London investigating how scholarly publishing will look in years to come.

Here are a few key facts about our publishing since we started publishing in June 2015:

  • Our books have been downloaded over *35,000 times (that’s an average of 2,916 times each)
  • Our books have been downloaded in over 160 countries round the world, from Albania to Zimbabwe
  • Our most downloaded book is How the World Changed Social Media by Danny Miller et al, which was downloaded over 10,000 times between 1 March and 1 June 2016
  • Our books have been reviewed in THE, The Economist, The Atlantic’s CityLab, BBC World Service, BBC Today programme, LSE Review of Books and Wired, amongst others
  • This month sees the launch of our new interactive digital platform that offers scholars new ways of publishing their research in non-traditional formats

UCL Press infographic3There is a lot to celebrate, but most important of all is our authors and journal editors. We feel incredibly honoured that so many talented academics from UCL and beyond have chosen to publish with us, a new press with an alternative business model, and we look forward to working with them on more exciting projects in the coming years. And indeed, it is our business model that is driving our authors to choose UCL Press. As demonstrated in the figures above, open access means that books and journals are read and distributed globally in significant numbers. And what could be more important for scholarship?

In the words of Daniel Coit Gilman, founder of Johns Hopkins University Press:

It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures but far and wide.

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

*At 1 June 2016

 

Jewish Historical Studies Joins UCL Press: A Letter from the Editor

MichaelBerkowitz12 February 2016

Jewish Historical Studies coverJewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England is now jointly published with UCL Press. Why is this such excellent news and of historical significance in itself?

In 2013 the Jewish Historical Society of England (JHSE) celebrated its 120th anniversary.  It is one of the longest-running historical associations in the world and its journal, commonly referred to as Transactions, began in 1893-94. While its publication has been somewhat irregular (a few world wars happened to intervene), it is famous for featuring some of the most outstanding scholarship in Jewish history – well before Jewish Studies became institutionalised as an academic field. The JHSE is a hybrid: its membership includes full-time academics, part-time scholars and teachers, and those whose livelihoods lie totally outside of education. The JHSE comprises students and retirees, doctors, lawyers, accountants, journalists, musicians, artists, Jews and non-Jews. A rather large share of members are historians whose work engages Jews in the English-speaking world. As an organisation the JHSE has always aspired to promote the best and most current research in Anglo-Jewish history while its remit ranges broadly in Jewish Studies.

Until its most recent issue, Volume 47, Transactions was published privately by the Society. Starting with volume 44, my first as editor, a standardised peer-review process was introduced along with an editorial board. Whereas in the past (almost) all submissions to the journal appeared in print, this is no longer the case. We maintain the central purpose of Transactions – publishing papers that were presented to meetings of the Society – and also provide a venue for the types of scholarship and issues pertaining to research of concern to the Society generally.

In the grand scheme of things, the journal is thriving. Since the presidencies of Ada Rapoport-Albert (UCL) and Piet Van Boxel (Oxford), who initiated a shift to University College London for the Society’s functions, attendance at meetings and conferences has surged. Some fabulous younger scholars, such as David Dee of Leicester’s De Montfort University, Julie Mell of North Carolina State University, and Philip Nothaft of All Souls, Oxford, have published in, and become vital forces in the evolving shape of Transactions. Historians who are at the cutting edge of their respective fields, such as Alex Knapp in ethnomusicology, David Ruderman in intellectual history, Sharman Kadish in material culture, and Susan Tananbaum and David Feldman in social history, have published their latest scholarship in the journal.

Under UCL Press it will appear in print and on-line as an open-access publication, following a path that will make the journal even more attractive for aspiring contributors. (Submissions are piling up in my inbox.)

The next issue, volume 48, which will appear in December 2016, will have a substantial section guest-edited by Theodore Dunkelgrunn of Cambridge, concerning the formidable career of Solomon Schechter. The volume also will comprise ‘regular’ articles, book reviews, and at least one review essay.

    What is it, though, that makes Transactions different? One aspect is apparent in the current issue, which is dedicated to the late Professor David Cesarani of Royal Holloway (1956-2015) (to which we would add the Hebraized acronym z”l, ‘of blessed memory’). While many academic journals refrain from obituaries or any form of institutional recognition of deceased members, we regard this as part of our mission. Is there a historian anywhere who does not find such material helpful, or of interest? We also include information about the life of the JHSE: its current central group and branches, and those who appear at its meetings. Along with reviews of books, now expertly handled by Lars Fischer, there are ‘research reports’, often containing primary source material, which is not the standard fare of academic journals. We are, in the end, a scholarly and academic publication, but proudly more than that.

 As editor of Transactions and on behalf of the JHSE, I wish to thank Lara Speicher, Alison Major and their colleagues for making possible the relationship between the UCL Press and the journal. The well-being of the JHSE and an increasingly robust Transactions are mutually beneficial. To quote that great sage, Rick of Casablana:  ‘I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’

About the author

Michael Berkowitz is General Editor of Jewish Historical Studies and Professor of Modern Jewish History, UCL.

This post was originally posted in UCL Press news in February 2016.