Books

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Peer Review in the Humanities and Social Sciences: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It?

Next up in our series of posts celebrating Peer Review Week 2016 is a conversation about peer review in the humanities and social sciences. Chefs Alison Mudditt and Karin Wulf, together with Mary Francis of the University of Michigan Press, discuss the differences and similarities between peer review in HSS and STEM disciplines, and between reviews for books and journals in HSS. Continue reading

Book Review — The Traps of Big Data Revealed in “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

The new book, “Weapons of Math Destruction,” calls out many worrying trends in the application of big data, with particularly salient entries on higher education rankings, for-profit universities, the justice system, insurance, and employment. Continue reading

How Much Does Publishing Cost?

There have been several recent studies of what it costs to publish academic monographs, but they all mistake the cost of production with the cost of publication. This post summarizes the issues and suggests a very simple way to calculate the cost of publication. Continue reading

Vindicated by Its Critics: The Kent Study in Light of Other Research on Library Circulation

In 1979, a study at the University of Pittsburgh Library found that 40% of the books added in the previous six years had not circulated. 37 years later, we librarians still cite that number and many of us use it (among other factors) to justify moving in the direction of patron-driven acquisition. A critic of that practice argues that many subsequent circulation studies contradict the Kent Study. But do they? Continue reading

Curation Nation: Thoughts on the Future of Textbooks

Is there a role for a curated, remixing approach to developing next generation textbooks. Robert Harington investigates the role of curated open textbooks in teaching today’s students, looking at some of the available tools, the way in which instructors utilize such tools, and issues around fair use of content. Continue reading

Open Ebooks Coming to Project MUSE: An Interview with Wendy Queen

This summer, Project MUSE announced that it is developing its ability to host and distribute open access (OA) ebooks. Project MUSE’s director Wendy Queen spoke with me recently about this program and some of the broader strategic issues we should be contemplating. Continue reading

Textbooks in Academic Libraries: The Publisher’s Case

This post presents a case for why publishers would want to participate in a program to sell textbooks to academic libraries. The plan would include a means for publishers to retain their profitability, albeit on a lower sales volume, by taking advantage of digital technology and by “repairing” some broken elements in the current marketplace, e.g., the market for used and pirated books. Continue reading

Academic Libraries and the Textbook Taboo: Time to Get Over It?

Has the time come for academic libraries to start thinking seriously about providing textbooks to their student patrons? A few are already doing so–why not more? Continue reading

Neither Fish Nor Fowl: Journal Publishing and the University Press

University presses are not well positioned to thrive in journal publishing because they have not adopted any of the (relatively few and common) business strategies that are necessary, given market dynamics, for success. I do not put forth this thesis lightly. I have great affection and admiration for university presses, their value — craftsmanship, attention to detail, “getting it right”— and their mission. This is not admiration from afar: I served, in the formative years of my career, at the University of Chicago Press (Chicago), where I learned the tools of the trade and many of the practices and protocols of scholarly publishing still in use today. But after nearly two decades of observing university presses, from within and without, this thesis seems to be inescapable. Continue reading

Copyright, Expectations, and Economics — Can Taylor Swift Help Us Find Our Backbone?

Expectations of free content are entrenched, but artists, authors, and publishers are all hurting because of it. The basic problem? It’s leading to a lack of trust in the future. Continue reading

Book Review: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

An excellent book about humankind in general holds important fundamental insights for scholarly publishers, editors, and researchers. Continue reading

Is the Proposed Merger of IDPF and W3C Good for Publishers?

The IDPF and the W3C recently announced they were making plans to merge. Will this merger be good for publishers by integrating them more closely into the community that manages the web infrastructure? Or will the merger result in diminishing publisher control over one of the important distribution standards for digital texts? The past five years of experience doesn’t give reason to be reassured of the outcome. Continue reading

Update on a Library Research Project

Preliminary results on a research project on library acquisitions are now in. They suggest some interesting patterns in collection-building; the data from this project will be useful for other researchers. It is hoped that the full roll-out of this project will take place later this year. Continue reading

The Open Access Monograph

There are many programs now to create open access monographs, but the business models surrounding these efforts do not appear to be sufficiently robust to make the OA monograph sustainable. The problem is that the monograph is something that many people want, but few are willing to pay for. Continue reading

What the Heck is Amazon up to Now?

Although Amazon is a central player in many areas of publishing and media, it is hard to predict where it will head next. This makes it hard to plan to compete with it. On the other hand, Amazon has some typical ways that it behaves when it enters a market and strategic planners can learn from them. Continue reading

Postscript on Sci-Hub: The University Press Edition

Not only is Sci-Hub pirating STM articles; it also has built a large collection of unauthorized university press monographs. This undermines the argument that Sci-Hub is an activist site fighting against corporate greed, as the university press community typically operates at a deficit. But university presses have many other challenges, and the threat posed by Sci-Hub is not the largest among them. Continue reading

How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications

A new survey looks at the ways readers discover scholarly publications. Due to methodological limitations, scholarly information professionals should practice caution in interpreting the findings and considering potential business responses. Ultimately, it is impressive that the researchers have taken on such a large-scale study, which adds some additional context to our understanding of discovery, especially in its diversity. Continue reading

To Kill an Argument: Politicizing Comments on the Internet

A recent blog post by ARL that was ostensibly about “To Kill a Mockingbird” was actually a set piece on the term of copyright. This rhetorical strategy of using news simply as a jumping-off point for a political statement undermines the credibility of public discourse, which hurts us all. Continue reading

Seven Things Every Researcher Should Know About Scholarly Publishing

After many and long conversations among colleagues within and beyond the Scholarly Kitchen
about what researchers need to know about scholarly publishing, Alice Meadows and Karin Wulf compiled a list of what we think to be the most urgent issues.
Continue reading

Sci-Hub and the Four Horsemen of the Internet

Sci-Hub sets a reprehensible example, but publishers cannot be content simply to stamp out such services. In order to evolve the industry into the future, publishers have to provide services that make Sci-Hub and its ilk seem old-fashioned and inconvenient to use. Continue reading

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The mission of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is "[t]o advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking." SSP established The Scholarly Kitchen blog in February 2008 to keep SSP members and interested parties aware of new developments in publishing.
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The Scholarly Kitchen is a moderated and independent blog. Opinions on The Scholarly Kitchen are those of the authors. They are not necessarily those held by the Society for Scholarly Publishing nor by their respective employers.