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Wednesday, November 7 • 2:30pm - 3:10pm
Short Books: Why They are Published, the Obstacles they Face, and their Prospects for Success

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Fifty years ago, when standard monographs reigned, the Journal of Scholarly Publishing included in its inaugural issue a case for the short book and named it an “ideal form” for some scholarly purposes. A recent observer notes that the format has languished for decades, though the Very Short Introductions series from the Oxford University Press has been an exception. But we now have short books from several scholarly and commercial publishers, including the new Charleston Briefings. Hundreds of titles have been published in recent years. There is a history of the short book, all the way back to the political pamphlet, but digital communications in this century have meant new conditions for its role in scholarly publishing, including open access. This session, according to its title, will be in three parts, beginning with what publishers now say about the timeliness and utility of short books, and some data on short book publishing from a sample of academic presses. Short books offer appealing options to authors (e.g., in the timeline of research, writing, and publication) and to publishers in appealing to contemporary reading habits and to new audiences. Still, short books present problems in discovery and recognition, the latter in citations and reviews, but also in their role in the academic rewards system with what it typically demands in standard length monographs. Prospects for the success of short books, as publishers acknowledge, will reflect the interest of scholars in writing them and then how well they can be marketed, including their appeal for library collections. Finally, to demonstrate what might be expected of scholars, the presentation will offer an account of the experience of a prominent anthropologist and short book author who names reasons for colleagues, publishers, and libraries to welcome the form.


Matthew Ismail

Director of Collection Development, Central Michigan University Library

Steve Weiland

Professor of Higher Education, Michigan State University

Wednesday November 7, 2018 2:30pm - 3:10pm EST
Pinckney Room, Francis Marion Hotel 387 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403