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This article serves as foundational reading in anticipation of John J. McAdam’s three-part presentation at AAUP 2016, entitled “Reimagining the University Press from Scratch.” Watch a webinar replay of Part 1 and make sure to attend Part 2 and Part 3, debuting in Philadelphia.


By John J. McAdam

At the Association of American University Presses‘ Annual Meeting on June 18, 2016, I will be facilitating an industry mastermind discussion on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) in scholarly publishing from a start-up business perspective. In particular, we’ll explore: “How has the publishing industry performed over time and in particular the scholarly/university press publishing segment?” By way of background, I thought it might be helpful to provide some of that data regarding the broader publishing industry in advance of the meeting to get the conversation started.

For tax and economic reporting purposes, the US government utilizes the North America Industry Classification System (NAICS) to segment industries within the US economy. Entering the keyword search term “publishing” at www.naics.com, three key horizontal industry segments in publishing stand out:

NAICS Code NAICS Title NAICS Description Notes & Questions
511130 Book Publishers – except exclusive Internet publishers Organizations that design, edit, and market, and distribute books Why separate Internet publishing?
511120 Periodical Publishers – except exclusive Internet publishers Magazine, journal, or other periodical publishers Do these publishers support professors adequately?
519130 Internet Publishers Publishers that provide text, audio, and/or video content on the Internet exclusively Notes:

1) Publishing and/or broadcasting content on the internet exclusively or

2) Operating websites

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Why does NAICS carve out exclusively Internet publishers? Following the logic of the NAICS, exclusive Internet publishing has grown to warrant its own industry classification. In fact, Exclusive Internet Publishers is three times the revenue of both Book and Periodical Publishing and employs twice as many people.

The aforementioned NAICS “industry” codes contain five digits and represent a horizontal view of the publishing industry. Next, let’s review the publishing industry both vertically and more broadly using only two and three-digit NAICS codes. The NAICS categorizes publishing into three segments. The first is the industry sector Information (NAICS code 51). The second subsector is literally Publishing (NAICS code 511). The third is Book Publishers (NAICS code 51130) which is the best fit for most university presses. Now that we have data from these three market segments, let’s analyze the data points using Compounded Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs). What does the CAGR analysis tell us?

  • The number of firms is flat for Book Publishers, decreasing in Publishing, and increasing in Information—by the same amount, respectively.
  • Revenue in Information is growing 4.5 times as fast as that of Book Publishing.
  • Payroll expense is growing by double digits across all Information and Publishing
  • Workloads have increased per employee as evidenced by increasing payroll per employee.
  • Book publishers need to understand for what information customers are willing to pay.

If you are feeling overworked in Book Publishing, then the data confirm this feeling. If you feel underpaid, the data suggest otherwise (sorry). Payroll is growing at 9.1 percent and revenue is growing at 4.2 percent while total employment is declining at 5 percent compounded annually. Furthermore, revenue per employee increased to 9.7 percent annually which means employees are becoming productive (more revenue per employee) and being paid more per employee.

The revenue trends across Information, Publishing, and Book Publishing tell a clear story, as we can see in the chart below:

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Clearly, people have been buying more from the parent Information sector and at a higher growth rate over the last 15 years, than either the Book Publishing or Publishing subsets, which have remained relatively flat. As we view this revenue trend chart, we should wonder what’s happening in the Information industry that is generating such consistent annual growth. When we break down the subsectors and compare revenue trends, here’s what we see:

  • Recordings had flat growth.
  • Telecommunications had slow growth.
  • Broadcasting, Data Processing, and Data Hosting had fast growth.
  • Other Information Services had exponential growth.

Anecdotally, within Other Information Services, revenue in the Libraries and Archive industry is in fact growing. Of course, as will be no surprise to anyone, the Internet Publishing, Broadcasting, and Web Search Portals have the fastest growth. Look for more industry segmentation here when the NAICS updates economic activities next for 2017.

As we prepare for our SWOT analysis mastermind industry discussion, we should be curious about what is growing and why. Economic activities data inform us that information in nontraditional forms present opportunities for growth. If the university press continues to provide information in traditional ways, such as books and periodicals, then it should not expect growth. Why is growth necessary even for small, mission-driven nonprofit organizations? First, to ensure that revenue grows sufficiently to match growth in expenses such as pay raises. Second, in this case, publishing industry data reveal that book revenues are flat and people are demanding information in forms other than books. Your strategic business plan to keep your university press sought-after by and relevant to your stakeholders should account for these trends even if growth is not the objective in and of itself. Eventually change will be unavoidable. Whether growth or adaptation is the objective, let’s discuss what valuable information a university press might offer that people need. My intention is to facilitate a constructive discussion that will benefit both you and your university press. I’ll see you in Philadelphia.


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John J. McAdam is the author of The One-Hour Business Plan (Wiley), an instructor in Strategic Business Planning at The Wharton Small Business Development Center, an association workshop speaker, and business advisor. For more information, visit John on Twitter, LinkedIn, his website, or contact him via email.

Copyright © John J. McAdam 2016. All Rights Shared with AAUP.

Peter Berkery visits U of Nevada Press and Beacon Press

Since the beginning of his tenure in March 2013, AAUP director Peter Berkery has been visiting member presses as part of a “listening tour” to introduce himself to the community, accelerate his learning curve, and create an opportunity for in-depth exploration of the ways in which the organization might help university presses embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by a rapidly changing landscape—in publishing and in the academy. While it appeared the tour would wind down in the summer, it has continued. Peter will be chronicling highlights from his visits on the Digital Digest.


by Peter Berkery, AAUP Executive Director

Two very different Listening Tour stops reminded me how important the perspective from AAUP’s “front lines” can be: our smaller member presses sometimes can feel most acutely the twin challenges of the technology disruption and corporatization of the academy.

A late October visit to Reno allowed me to meet the small but extraordinarily dedicated staff of the University of Nevada Press. UNP is a state-system press, and I could sense some of the special challenges that come with that status. It can be particularly difficult for system presses to maintain mindshare with their administrations (and faculty), and it may be useful for AAUP to continue to explore ways both to leverage successes and undertake advocacy initiatives specific to the needs of this group.

The other important learning to emerge from my time in the Silver State: university presses fulfill missions in ways beyond academic credentialing. To be fair, this isn’t exactly news, but it was elegantly emphasized by the publishing program at Nevada. I think sometimes it can be easy for our colleagues in the academy to overlook that a university press well may be the sole curator of the history and culture of a region. That’s certainly the case in Nevada, where series on the urbanization of the American West inspired by the explosive growth of Las Vegas, and on mining history–growing out of Nevada’s mining heritage–would otherwise have little to no scholarly record without the hard work of Joanne O’Hare and her team. It’s a vital function, and one that deserves more credit than it sometimes receives.

Fast forward from a glorious autumn day in the Sierras to early December, the first wintery day in New England, when I found myself crossing a slippery Boston Common to visit Beacon Press.

Beacon is an AAUP Associate Member, whose mission is linked to its host institution, the Unitarian Universalist Church. Consequently, titles related to social justice figure prominently on their list: for example, an exclusive partnership with the MLK estate to publish “The King Legacy.” And although many of these titles result in course adoptions, the retail market is critical to Beacon’s performance. The conversation that flowed from the orientation of Beacon’s list highlighted how important certain copyright issues–permissions, piracy–remain, even in a world where many of us are beginning to incorporate Open Access into our publishing programs. What a challenging dynamic that creates for our association!

Another common theme between these two different members: the recognition that greater consortial activity would benefit their programs. Interestingly–and this is a theme that’s been common throughout the Listening Tour–that doesn’t necessarily translate into agreement regarding which specific activities might productively be accomplished cooperatively. There are solid reasons for the various perspectives taken by each individual press, but at the organizational level this will pose a challenge for AAUP when the time comes to set priorities.

In the end, I think the most striking similarity between these two very distinct presses is their common desire to identify new and better ways to engage a very specific sector of the consumer market: the educated reading public. In Nevada’s case, it’s to preserve a history and a culture; in Beacon’s, it’s to advance the human condition. Such endeavors are other important parts of a university press’s mission, and expanding the ways programs that support them should continue to be a part of AAUP’s mission as well.

Peter Berkery visits U of California Press  and Stanford UP

Since the beginning of his tenure in March 2013, AAUP director Peter Berkery has been visiting member presses as part of a “listening tour” to introduce himself to the community, accelerate his learning curve, and create an opportunity for in-depth exploration of the ways in which the organization might help university presses embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by a rapidly changing landscape—in publishing and in the academy. While it appeared the tour would wind down in the summer, it has continued. Peter will be chronicling highlights from his visits on the Digital Digest.


by Peter Berkery, AAUP Executive Director

I enjoyed two unique perspectives on the potential impact of technology on our community during the Bay Area leg of Listening Tour II: first, a focus on innovation at the University of California Press that resonates with my own prior publishing experience and later, some provocative new ways to think about how AAUP can serve its members from the folks at Stanford University Press. Both experiences were gifts, and I’m grateful to the many Left Coast denizens who shared their time and talent in order to make them manifest.

First stop, Berkeley. Alison Mudditt and her team are literally reinventing UCP, in ways that are exciting and–from my perspective–essential. Let me begin with some background: my career in legal publishing spanned those heady years in the late 90s when we migrated our product line from print to electronic (first, over proprietary dial-in lines, but as soon as Al Gore invented it, then the via internet). There are two significant features from this experience that are relevant to UCP’s (r)evolution.

First, the same publisher still owned the content, customers, and its central role in the process when the migration was complete. It’s caused no shortage of sleepless nights for me contemplating the possibility that the same centrality of all our university presses may not be a given once the technology disruption and its consequences achieve critical mass in our neck of the publishing woods.

Second, the truly revolutionary thing about our migration was what followed it. Most customers found the initial journey painful. After it was over, however, and they had settled into a life of online research, they began pushing us to go further, to make our content do more. For example, in the print world, we would provide binders full of sample forms and clauses for estate planning attorneys. Not long after we digitized that content, cutting-edge practitioners and authors began asking us to also automate the underlying workflow by developing document assembly software.

Under Alison’s leadership, UCP is following a similar trajectory, and their plans strike me as having similar logic. The UCP team is rebuilding in ways that will support their goals, including the recent hiring of a Director of Digital Business Development. Like legal publishers back in the day, UCP has a vision for how technology will transform scholarly communications. They have a strategy and an execution plan; as my old boss at that legal publisher used to say, “I like their chances”.

But the patina of general inevitability I’ve attached to the evolution that occurred specifically in legal publishing gives me pause today. Most university presses lack the scale to successfully undertake such large-scale initiatives; even the few Group Four presses who’ve attempted apps have been humbled by the experience. I can’t shake the feeling that a common platform automating the scholarly workflow may be critical to maintaining our centrality in the digital age. I hope to flesh this out more on future Listening Tour stops, and I welcome your thoughts on the notion.

Back across the bay, my visit with Stanford University Press yielded a completely different, yet equally exciting and challenging revelation. After touring their impressive new digs, still awaiting its finishing touches, I met with the staff in a groovy open-plan meeting area. (And I mean groovy: I quite literally found myself sitting in a “Doctor Evil” chair!) We were having an interesting exchange about my role, what AAUP is, and what it could be, when Chris Cosner, their IT Manager, began to articulate some of the limitations of our current listservs: listservs are hard to search … communication is too linear and hierarchical … collaboration is virtually impossible … email triage is a challenge … and so on.

As he was speaking, I began drawing parallels between what Chris was saying and the periodic soul-searching the association undertakes with our committees. Despite seemingly biennial reviews, it appears to me that we labor under the recurring belief that whatever AAUP’s current committee structure happens to be at the time, it doesn’t serve us optimally: there are too many committees, a few have outlived their purpose, one or two never have a clear understanding of what they’re meant to be doing, communication is a challenge, and so on. Don’t get me wrong: the association is blessed with an abundance of talented and dedicated volunteers who devote countless hours to AAUP committee business, but still—at a macro level—we seem unable to shake the sense that we’re not always as well served by committee efforts as we might be.

Then it struck me: perhaps AAUP needs to reinvision how technology can automate its own workflow–evolving from listservs to true online collaboration tools, from committees to communities. Just as technology reinvented lawyers’ workflows, and just as it is reinventing scholarly communication, perhaps it’s time to think about how it can revolutionize the ways in which the association provides platforms for its members to collaborate. The notion of communities really resonates with me, and when I shared it from my groovy chair, I think it resonated with others as well. To the extent this realization qualifies as an epiphany, full credit goes to the folks at Stanford who brought me to it. In any case, the discussion was a gift, and I am thankful for it. It will take more input to validate, and even more of that time and talent to implement, but it was one of those special conversations that makes me grateful for the opportunity to visit so many presses in person.

Next up: a report from Group One …

Peter Berkery visits Purdue UP and Indiana UP

Since the beginning of his tenure in March 2013, AAUP director Peter Berkery has been visiting member presses as part of a “listening tour” to introduce himself to the community, accelerate his learning curve, and create an opportunity for in-depth exploration of the ways in which the organization might help university presses embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by a rapidly changing landscape—in publishing and in the academy. While it appeared the tour would wind down in the summer, it has continued. Peter will be chronicling highlights from his visits on the Digital Digest.


by Peter Berkery, AAUP Executive Director

The first stops on the autumn leg of my Listening Tour were in Indiana, just as students were returning to campus for the fall semester.

Purdue University Press is a fully integrated unit of Purdue Libraries; in many ways, the structure and activities there have the potential to serve as a model–not just for library-press collaboration, but also for how a university press can add value for its host institution. In addition to the academic monograph and scholarly journal publishing activities familiar to most university press employees, PUP staff leverage their expertise to publish student journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly materials that do not meet the criteria for the PUP imprint under a separate “Scholarly Publishing Services” moniker. The library is the press’s advocate with faculty and administrators, zealously guarding both the press’s funding and the PUP brand. The broader university community benefits from the press’s publishing expertise, economies of scale, and consistent design, branding, and marketing decisions. Charles Watkinson, the director of PUP, reports into the library and holds the dual title of Director of Purdue University Press and Head of Scholarly Publishing Services, Purdue Libraries. He is also in charge of the institutional repository, Purdue e-Pubs, which acts as an online publishing platform as well as a place to deposit faculty pre- and post-prints.

The model is a clear success at Purdue. In some respects this must be attributed to the bonhomie of Charles and PU Dean of Libraries James Mullins; as is so often the case in these situations, success depends–at least in part–on the goodwill of the personalities involved. It’s unproven whether the Boilermakers’ scholarly publishing model can scale, but in the right set of circumstances other institutions would do well to explore it.

Next I arrived in Bloomington on a glorious late summer day, along with thousands of new and returning Hoosier undergrads! Change is very much in the air at Indiana University Press. With support from the Provost, IUP has become a part of the Office of Scholarly Publishing, a strategic campus-wide effort to develop and implement a coordinated university publishing strategy. (In addition to IUP, the OSP includes IUScholarWorks, the IU Libraries’ open access publishing program, and an IU faculty authored e-textbook initiative.) While this particular chapter hadn’t been completed as of my visit, the commitment to IUP was enthusiastically echoed by everybody I met, from the CIO and the provost through to faculty committees and librarians–and, of course, among IUP staffers themselves.

The university is also proactively encouraging the press to embrace the opportunities presented by both new technologies and potential campus collaborations. A recent move to IU’s Wells Library better positions the press to leverage the university’s librarian expertise and advanced IT resources, responding more nimbly and with more coordination to the dramatic changes in scholarly publishing. While IUP has a track record of collaborations, it’s clear to me that the creation of the OSP and its inclusion of the press will encourage innovation by integrating resources to create a publishing environment that can grow to serve more robustly both the university and the broader academy.

While IU continues to fine-tune its model, I left Bloomington confident that the future is bright for this respected university press.

Next stop: Reno and the Bay Area.

by Lorri Hagman, Executive Editor, University of Washington Press
A Books That Matter Essay

Stories Old and New: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Vol. 1, compiled by Feng Menglong, translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang (University of Washington Press, 2000)
Stories to Caution the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Vol. 2, compiled by Feng Menglong, translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang (University of Washington Press, 2007)
Stories to Awaken the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Vol. 3, compiled by Feng Menglong, translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang (University of Washington Press, 2009)

Book Cover: Stories Old and New

Stories Old and New: A Ming Dynasty Collection (ISBN: 9780295978444)

Some people spend thousands of dollars and endure hours of exhausting air travel to vacation in exotic places. But among the perks of my editorial job at the University of Washington Press in the summer of 1998 was being paid to boat down rivers and trek through mist-shrouded mountains in southeast China and to tiptoe into ancient monasteries and palaces, with eloquent and entertaining locals as my guides. This travel was, alas, only in the mind, but I relished it every day—an eight-hour minivacation in both space and time. My purported task was to copyedit the 1,270 manuscript pages of the English translation of Stories Old and New, a set of forty vernacular short stories collected in the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644) by the most knowledgeable connoisseur of popular Chinese literature of his time, Feng Menglong. My true mission, however, was deeper and more subversive: to undermine cultural stereotypes by providing the English-reading world with an unmediated view of Chinese culture and society.

Back then, I still was doing occasional copyediting in addition to acquiring books in Asian studies and various other fields. At its best, copyediting can be like tackling a cleverly constructed crossword puzzle, a self-contained and satisfying task—not something I care to do full-time, but an entertaining diversion. Normally, it’s preferable to have a new set of eyes for copyediting, to spot things that the author and acquiring editor no longer have the objectivity to see, but Stories Old and New required a copy editor with Chinese-language training, and I was the only such person available. So I both acquired and copyedited the manuscript.

Pausing in front of the text and multipage style sheet (one for each story, as well as a list of recurring terms) and shifting my gaze out the office window westward toward Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, I would sometimes reflect that I had just surfaced from a time in which China was already an old and marvelously complex civilization, but the city of Seattle would not be founded for another two and a half centuries. The stories were so rich, so varied, that collectively they illustrated just about everything one needed to know about late imperial China—from history to religion to family structure. When the first Chinese edition was published in 1620, compiler and editor Feng Menglong wrote in the preface of the power of fiction:

Just ask the storytellers to demonstrate in public their art of description: they will gladden you, astonish you, move you to sad tears, rouse you to song and dance; they will prompt you to draw a sword, bow in reverence, cut off a head, or donate money. The faint-hearted will be made brave, the debauched chaste, the unkind compassionate, the obtuse ashamed. One may recite the Classic of Filial Piety and the Analects of Confucius every day, yet he will not be moved so quickly nor so profoundly as by these storytellers. (p. 6)

Shuhui Yang, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Bates College, had first written to us in 1996 about the translation of Stories Old and New that he and his wife, Yunqin Yang, a simultaneous translator at the UN, were completing. I had long been familiar with Feng Menglong’s work, and in my student days had even presented a paper comparing a courtesan in one of the stories to a famous courtesan in Sanskrit literature, a paper that was eventually published in the Journal of South Asian Literature. But the Yangs didn’t know that; our collaboration on this project seemed pure serendipity.

Cover Image: Stories to Caution

Stories to Caution the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Volume 2 (ISBN: 9780295985688)

After the publication of Stories Old and New, I was surprised but delighted to learn that the Yangs were forging on with translation of the two remaining volumes in Feng Menglong’s trilogy of collected short stories, known collectively as the Sanyan: Stories to Caution the World and Stories to Awaken the World. Like Stories Old and New, each volume contained forty stories. Translating the three volumes—a total of 120 stories in 4,300 manuscript pages—was a labor of love on their part, as neither received professional credit or pay (beyond very modest royalties) for this work. My colleagues were understandably concerned about the difficulty and expense of producing these oversize volumes, but with generous title subsidies from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and Bates College, along with creative typography and thin paper, we were able to publish all three.

Although English translations of a handful of the stories had been published in various anthologies, these were always abridged, omitting the many snippets of verse that are strewn throughout the stories, counterposed with the text, such as this one from “Chen Congshan Loses His Wife on Mei Ridge” (Stories Old and New, p. 342”):

Upon returning to his own yamen, the inspector held a banquet to celebrate the victory. With the slaying of Tiger of the Mountain, indeed,

 His fame spread throughout the Nanxiong region;
His skills in the martial arts won praise from all.

Also omitted were Feng’s interlinear and marginal notes, often deliciously irreverent, such as the following (in italic) from “The Courtesans Mourn Liu the Seventh in the Spring Breeze” (Stories Old and New, p. 219):

From that time on, he grew more dissolute in his ways and went so far as to take up residence in the courtesans’ quarters. On a tablet of the kind that was held by officials, he wrote, “Liu of Three Changes, Imperial Poet Designate.” Before he called on a courtesan, he would first send over this tablet and she would then prepare wine and dishes and bedding for the night. (What a carefree life! This is better than serving as an official.)

Even Chinese editions of the stories have omitted elements of the original, such as sexually explicit passages, which the Yangs translate in full. Their translation of the three-volume collection is the first—and probably will be the only—complete, unabridged English translation of this milestone work in world literature. An important editorial feature that is apparent only when the stories are seen in Feng’s original arrangement is their thematic pairing.

The flavor of the Yangs’ translation is captivating. Feng Menglong had collected stories hither and yon, modifying and even, perhaps, freshly composing some of them himself (much as the Grimm Brothers had done in Europe). The language of the stories is not classical but vernacular Chinese, a form that reflected the grammar and usage of common speech. Although easier for those of us who are not Confucian scholars to understand, Feng’s Ming-dynasty common speech is several centuries old. One of the things I love about the Yangs’ translation is the slightly old-fashioned cadence of the English phrasing, which reflects Feng’s language: things happen “in a trice,” or to “all and sundry” (as in the extract above). Although the Yangs’ command of English is among the best I’ve ever observed in non-native speakers, I wondered how they had been able to capture that subtly old-fashioned tone. When I asked about this, Yunqin’s response was, “Dickens, of course!”

After immersing myself so deeply in his world through the course of three volumes and 120 stories, I felt that I knew Feng Menglong personally and, curiously, that, were he to time-travel to my world as I had to his, he would not be perplexed or intimidated by twenty-first century culture. With his broad mind and deep curiosity, he would have eagerly engaged with the contemporary intellectual and social scene, recognizing new and fascinating variations on the same old stories.

Cover Image: Stories to Awaken

Stories to Awaken the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection, Volume 3 (ISBN: 9780295989037)

Helping to bring this trove of cultural gems to the English-speaking world was a privilege and a delight. Translators Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang were model “authors,” and we were assisted generously in the multivolume project by scholars such as Bob Hegel (Washington University), Wilt Idema (Harvard), and Andrew Plaks (Princeton). Bob wrote a capstone foreword for the final volume, and he also organized an Association for Asian Studies roundtable discussion in 2009 celebrating the completion of the set. The Yangs spoke on the process of translation; I contributed an editor/publisher’s perspective on the challenge of editing, producing, and financing such a large project; and several professors of Chinese literature discussed the use of the Sanyan stories in the classroom. The following year, another AAS panel focused on the content and style of the stories. Participants uniformly agreed that the rich content of these stories augment teaching on any aspect of traditional Chinese society. As rare, unofficial records of popular culture, they are priceless.

Sadly, despite its importance, literary translation is not adequately encouraged or rewarded. Academic departments do not count it toward promotion and tenure; publication subsidies and book prizes usually exclude it; and, with rare exceptions, translated literature does not sell well. Yet, I believe that, over time, books like our Ming Dynasty Collection trilogy, which enable readers to experience another culture directly, through native eyes, will matter more in advancing cultural understanding than will analytical works. Good translations allow readers to connect deeply with other times and places; to observe them first-hand; to experience amazement at both differences from and similarities to one’s own culture; to, for a moment, forget self and place and time.

While reading a chunk of the first draft of volume 3 on my commute to work one morning back in 2006, I was so mesmerized by “The Grateful Tiger” that I missed my bus stop:

But they had hardly gone a few paces when a sudden strong gust of wind blew out all the lanterns and torches. A yellow-striped tiger with bulging eyes and a white forehead was seen leaping down from midair. The crowd shrieked and ran pell-mell in all directions.

They thought their lives were in danger;
Their souls took flight in fear.

When the wind died down and the tiger was gone, everyone cried out, “Thank heaven!” They relit the lanterns and the torches, and as they were preparing to go on with their journey, the sedan-chair carriers exclaimed, “Oh no!” Of the two sedan-chairs, one was now empty. A look with a torch confirmed that the bride had disappeared. . . .

Reluctantly, I disembarked at the next stop and trudged uphill to the office, wistful for the Ming.

By Dennis Lloyd

One of the great things about the AAUP meeting in the last few years has been the simultaneous conversations that have taken place on Twitter before, during, and after the meeting. The use of the #aaup12 hashtag made it easy to keep up with discussions, and even follow presentations that were taking place simultaneously to the one you were attending. (Or, in the case of AAUP staff members who weren’t able to attend, even if you weren’t in Chicago at all.)

However, what if you want to revisit that information later? It’s incredibly difficult to do so. (Don’t believe me? Go to your twitter account and try to search for the #aaup11 hashtag.) There are ways to archive, but also difficult to do after the fact. At least as far as I can determine.

I don’t know Martin Hawksey, but I was able to follow the instructions on of his blog posts to create a partial archive of the #aaup12 tweets. I say partial, because the 1500-tweet limit only allowed me to back up to some point during the first round of sessions on Tuesday morning. Although someone with better blogging skills than I might be able to actually fold them into this post, instead, I’ll just offer a link to the spreadsheet of those posts I created on google docs.

Hope some of you find this helpful! And if anyone has a complete archive of tweets, or knows of a better way to save them, step up!

By Sylvia K. Miller

Many thanks to our AAUP colleagues who sent positive comments and thoughtful questions in response to our announcement of the enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher:  The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron. In this blog post, I’d like to review briefly some of the aspects of the enhanced e-book production process that were new to us.

Author’s voice, multiplied.  At our invitation, the author provided extended captions for 19 of the enhancements, or 20% of the total.  The author’s voice now appears in the book in three layers: (1) in the audio, in the role of interviewer; (2) in the finished biographical narrative; (3) in the extended captions, which might be said to mediate between the first two.  She is slightly embarrassed when she hears her own voice in the audio; nevertheless, she is interested in the ways in which the enhanced e-book reveals the historian’s research process to readers, especially students of history.  One enhancement is a map, based on her notes from reviewing the 1910 census, on which she has marked the race of Clark’s neighbors in Charleston.  The map connects the raw census data with the finished narrative, in which the author states that Clark’s was a mixed-race neighborhood.  We toyed with a possible headline, “Historian at Work,” which we did not include but which might describe all of the enhancements.

Digitization.  Ideally the author’s materials would become a digital archive at a collaborating institution during production of the book.  However, in this demonstration project, the author had not yet decided where to donate her research materials, including 13 taped interviews.  Making do with the situation, we borrowed her stack of cassette tapes and digitized them in the media lab at UNC’s undergraduate library.  This took about 20 hours of staff time, spread over a couple of weeks, that we were able to justify under the umbrella of the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project.

Publisher-archive partnership.  Septima Clark’s papers are housed at the Avery Center for African American Research and Culture at the College of Charleston.  Recognizing the potential of the enhanced e-book to bring  the Center’s collections to the attention of a wider audience, the archivists granted permission for use of the materials that the author had identified and, with the support of the college’s Lowcountry Digital Library, digitized them.  The Center’s archivists were enthusiastic partners and even rediscovered in their holdings an interview with Clark that the author had not previously heard.  The collaboration is formally acknowledged on the title page of the enhanced e-book, and links to the Center’s website are included in the captions.

Technology.  The technology that we used was fairly simple; new standards from Barnes & Noble and Amazon allowed us to avoid having to use or write special software.  Starting with an Epub file, we inserted outbound links in the form of DOIs and URLs.  We inserted new content in an appendix and created internal navigation via HTML links inserted by hand; the audio content was in MP3 form.   (See the contact information below if you would like more detail.)

Audio excerpts.  Cutting the excerpts from the long interviews took only a few hours.  However, choosing and marking the excerpts to be cut took another several hours.  We did it the old-fashioned way, by reviewing transcripts together with the author, who bracketed chosen passages with a pencil.  Once all the MP3 audio files were included in the Epub file, some work had to be done to even out the sound volume.  The very best interview with Clark is, ironically, the one with the most ambient noise; perhaps more experienced sound engineers could have removed some of it.

Ellipsis.  In a couple of cases, the transcripts of interview excerpts included ellipsis points where the author had asked that we skip a digression in the conversation.   However, at first the digitally spliced-together audio did not indicate an ellipsis; this is a minor point, but it seemed to cross a line of scholarly integrity.  Playing around with “Garage Band,” a program that comes automatically loaded into a Mac laptop, we devised a swift clock-ticking sound to indicate the ellipsis.  We hope that people will know instinctively what it is when they hear it.

Permissions database.  Once you have more than a dozen or so items needing permission, it’s useful to switch from a spreadsheet to a database.  We set up a FileMaker database so that we could easily filter the growing list of items for data such as format, source, permission cleared/not cleared, location in the book (we were trying to balance enhancements across the book), and conveniently write captions and credit lines while referring to the descriptive and rights information on the same screen.  We were able to export reports for the author in Word (she did not want a spreadsheet) and, later on, export a captions manuscript for editing.

Navigation and usability testing.  I hardly need to point out that traditional navigational tools in print books such as tables of contents, running heads, numbered notes, and indexes have not needed usability testing in principle for a century or more.  However, our decision to group the enhancements in an appendix, list them in the front matter, and link to both of these added front and backmatter elements from the text was a new use of old tools, and we wanted to make sure that what we had done was clear.  Testing a prototype, the author’s graduate students gave us more than a dozen suggestions for changes, mostly links that would ease navigation among the new parts of the book.

Outbound links.  I have written about what I call a portal book, an e-book transformed by outbound links into an interface to a body of digital information. However, only 18, or 19%, of the enhancements in Freedom’s Teacher are accompanied by links to an online collection in which the item can be viewed in the context of other like items.  Although most of the remaining 77 enhancements carry links to the archive’s website, the archival items themselves are not yet viewable online.  We gave the full URLs as well as other identifying information about the online archives, so that if the links cease functioning, the reader can perform a Google search and find the archives anyway.  This is explained in a “Publisher’s Note” in the front matter.   The DOIs in the bibliography are the only outbound links guaranteed to be permanent, although of course there are very few because publishers are just beginning to register their books with CrossRef.  We hope that the inclusion of outbound links inspires archives to make more collections available online and book publishers to join CrossRef.  Maybe even archives will begin to use DOIs for archival items!  (This idea has been discussed but not enacted anywhere yet, as far as I am aware.)

Digital divide.  Despite her enthusiasm about the enhanced e-book project, the author does not own an iPad.  UNC Press owns one shared iPad, on which we loaded our corrected file for the author.  We lent this to her for a week.  She found, as we had in house, that checking the enhanced e-book demands time and patience, in order to check 60 audio examples (totaling 3 hours and 18 minutes of audio) for accuracy, along with the transcripts.  With the original print page numbers omitted in the digital book, it was a puzzle deciding how the author would notate corrections; after asking her to refer to the digital page locations—and to refrain from changing the type-size display, or the book would reflow and the page locations would all change, too—we realized it would have been better to have asked her to use the last eight words of the previous paragraph as a marker, because a phrase is easy to search.

Schedule and timing.  We produced this retrospective enhanced e-book in an intensive two months.  Of course it would be helpful to have more time; the best scenario, we believe, would be to plan the enhanced version along with the traditional version, from the start.

Video demonstration.  In order to explain the features of the enhanced e-book to readers who have not yet purchased it for a Nook , iPhone, or iPad, it was important to demonstrate it in a short YouTube video. We asked our colleague Seth Kotch of the Southern Oral History Program to narrate and use oral-history equipment for digital video.  He rigged up a stand for the iPad with two chairs and managed to film it without an opaque glare on the glass.  He followed our storyboard but altered the words in minor ways that felt more natural.  Subsequently the audio and video were subjected to a number of adjustments as we worked for a smooth flow of pictures and sound.  As only the second video that we have ever produced, it may have an amateur flavor which we hope is appealing.

Guidelines for authors.  Based on our experience with this project, we have drafted some guidelines for authors about selecting and preparing multimedia files for an enhanced e-book and incorporating callouts in the manuscript.  We are delighted that one of the UNC Press acquisitions editors requested this document for an author who is currently writing her book.

 Freedom’s Teacher is not UNC Press’s first enhanced e-book.  Our first was also one of Amazon’s first, Give My Poor Heart Ease:  Voices of the Mississippi Blues, originally a hardcover trade book that included discs tucked into envelopes in the back cover.  The Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project team made a video demonstration for it that was key to our success in bringing the author of Freedom’s Teacher and the archivists at the Avery Research Center on board to create the Freedom’s Teacher enhanced e-book.

We hope that the foregoing notes are of general interest, and we welcome specifically technological questions on the AAUP production listserv; sent directly to Tom Elrod, Digital Production Specialist, UNC Press (telrod@email.unc.edu); or sent to me, Sylvia K. Miller, Director, Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement (skm@email.unc.edu).

Katie Sweeney, assistant marketing manager at Fordham University Press, attended an ebooks seminar recently, courtesy of Brenna McLaughlin of AAUP and Ted Hill, President of THA Consulting. I asked her to write up her notes for a blog post to Digital Commons. Instead of rehashing her notes verbatim, Katie came up with this clever assessment. I think she hit the nail right on the head. We have been having a lot of fun assigning names to the different types of people in our office. Enjoy!

If I was a Director of a small press and I attended the Publisher’s Launch Conference: eBooks for Everyone Else, I’m not sure I would have taken the leap to create an eBooks Program.  However, that’s why organizations have different types of people.

  • You need the “visionary”—the person who sees the big picture.
  • You need the “techie”—the person who is willing to learn the technology, or at least understand enough of it to make an informed decision on the conversion company to hire.
  • You need the “negotiator”—the person who can get a contract on the table, bargain for better terms, and sign on the dotted line.
  • You need someone who’s “OCD.” They’re the person who will care enough about nitpicking every tiny piece of metadata and scrutinize the finished eBook.
  • You need the “worker bee,” although an entire beehive would be useful. This will be the person who knows the theory of how the workflow should operate, but will actually execute it.
  • You need the “naysayer.” The one who hates change and will be taken kicking and screaming into eBooks. They will be a hindrance, but they will probably spot half a dozen problems that you didn’t anticipate. Foresight is key.
  • You need the “scrooge” to nickel and dime your budget because contrary to popular belief, eBooks don’t just appear from established content. They’re another production stream in their own right.
  • You need everyone else who makes a regular book happen, make it happen for an eBook.

Once you’ve identified these people in your organization, the best thing you can do is educate them because there’s a lot to learn.

Like everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to eBooks. There is 24/7 availability. eBooks are never out of stock and there are no returns. Publishers can experiment with price points, create enhancements to files, or rapidly respond to marketplace events. Bonus: there is no physical inventory to ship or store. On the flip side, the disadvantages include, but are not limited to dealing with DRM, the technical file delivery, piracy, quality assurance, fluid business models, and trying to compute royalties.

Another hurdle is the change in the editorial and production workflows. Will you use an XML workflow at the front end of the editing process? In simplistic terms, this means creating a template and guidelines that copyeditors will use for tagging the manuscript. Further down the line, this will rear its head in production. You are now focused on all things “e,” but can your printers accept these files to make a print book? It’s a give and take between the print business we still need to do and eBusiness we want to do.

Publishers Launch also included some great nitty-gritty topics, such as metadata for eBooks. If you shop on Zappos, you know the importance of locating a perfect kitten heels in black patent leather in less than 20 seconds. Finding your book needs to be that easy.

Books covers were also a source of discussion. Traditionally, a great cover was thought to draw people from 20 feet. Today, finding a good book online is more about search and discovery. A book cover may be the size of a postage stamp. For publishers, this might mean creating a cover for a print book and creating a cover that is smaller, yet still distinguishable online.

Digital Identifiers are also expanding. Besides ISBNs, there is the ISTC —the International Standard Text Code that is a unique identifier for text. That means it belongs to the textual work, not the edition of a book. It is assigned to related works of the same content. There is also the ISNI—the International Standard Name Identifier. It identifies public identities, such as authors making it easier to locate all titles that an author may publish, regardless of the publisher.

And, once you’ve got your eBook made, you’ve got to figure out how to distribute it. Are you doing it all inhouse? That means you need to make sure you have the right type of file and negotiated agreements with every company you want to sell to. Are you hiring a distributor that will take one file and send it to their existing distribution agreements? The variations on these questions are endless. You need to explore you options and find the best fit for your organization.

The bottom line is that creating eBooks will touch all areas of your organization. It infiltrates editorial, production, marketing and sales. It’s not a simple task. One person doesn’t make it all happen. It’s a coordinated group effort that requires a strong leader and a dynamic team. Always have meetings to regroup. You might get frustrated, but you can always improve. For a small organization it can be a challenge. Some days it’s Survivor: Fordham Press, but every once in a while you hit tropical island status. That’s the day you hang up your hammock and take out your Kindle, your Nook, or your iPad and just read.

Check out the blog at “Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement” for Sylvia Miller’s reflections on their recently-ended online pilot.

In the first of two posts, she writes:

After 14 months, the Long Civil Rights Movement Project’s pilot online collection officially closed its test period on July 18, 2011.  You can still see it at https://lcrm.lib.unc.edu/voice/works, although project staff will no longer grant premium access to the full text of the experimental site’s 87 titles (books, articles, papers, and reports) to those who register except by special request.  Registration will continue to give any user the ability to see open-access content and comment on it at the paragraph level.

The commenting feature was the focus of the experiment.  During the test period, the number of registered users grew beyond our expectations, finishing at 776.  The number of annotations contributed by users was also impressive, finishing at 607.

In addition to these valuable statistics, Miller shares other learnings from the pilot, including valuable information on contributor behaviors, use of archives in teaching, and enhanced e-books. In her second post, Miller links to a number of other projects also experimenting in the area of archives, enhanced e-books, and “portal books.”

One the eve of its annual conference, the Association of American University Presses has launched a redesigned website and released the results of its second digital book publishing survey in as many years. The press release announcing the report can be read here, and the report itself is available for download.

In addition to providing interesting statistical breakdown as to the number of presses participating in a wide variety of digital publication efforts, it also reveals the widespread (unavoidable?) use of digital technology in traditional print publishing, particularly print-on-demand.

For most presses  (53 of 71 who participated in the survey) revenue from sales of electronic editions remains below 3%. It will be interesting to see how/if that changes in the coming year, particularly since the percentage of presses now reporting as participating in site licenses to libraries has nearly doubled (from 34% in the 2009-2010 survey to 65% in the Spring 2011 survey).

Overall, finding a working business model and creating systems to best allocate limited resources remain the biggest obstacles faced by university presses when it comes to digital publishing. As the report clearly demonstrates, despite these concerns, AAUP member presses are actively and enthusiastically embracing the possibilities. And if history is any indicator, following this weekend’s annual conference, “The Next Wave: Toward a Culture of Collaboration,” that enthusiasm will be redoubled throughout the summer.

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