News: Academic Publishing Weekly

University presses get sustainable, preprint popularity rages on, and two Knopf Doubleday imprints become independent

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice
Academic Publishing Weekly: the latest curated news from around the industry. Purple background, white lettering.

2020: A Look at the Numbers

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) released its StatShot Annual report for 2020, revealing intriguing trends from an otherwise horrible year. Despite a global pandemic, book publishing revenues remained largely flat, only feeling a 0.2 percent decrease from $25.77 billion in 2019 to $25.71 billion. University presses even saw some gains, growing close to 3 percent to $391.7 million in 2020. But it’s not all roses; higher education sales took a hit, with revenue down nearly 6 percent compared to 2019. The report includes AAP’s musings on the results, in addition to stats on trade books, bookstore traffic, and print, ebook, and audio use. [Association of American Publishers]

University Presses Say Yes to Sustainability

This week, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) signed onto the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Publishers Compact, “a voluntary commitment that recognizes the responsibility of the publishing industry to create a sustainable future through action.” AUPresses will support the Sustainable Development Goals—which include reducing poverty, supporting quality education, fighting climate change, and more—through partnerships and collaboration between member organizations. Lisa Bayer, AUPresses President, noted, “I am proud to see the Association and the Board of Directors join the Compact at such a key juncture for our industry and, indeed, our planet.” [Association of University Presses]

The best science writers learn that science is not a procession of facts and breakthroughs, but an erratic stumble toward gradually diminished uncertainty; that peer-reviewed publications are not gospel and even prestigious journals are polluted by nonsense; and that the scientific endeavor is plagued by all-too-human failings such as hubris.

Ed Yong

How Has COVID-19 Changed Science Writing?

Ed Yong walks through how despite—or because of—the pandemic’s spotlight on science writing, the categorization of the genre has grown only more convoluted. Though many wish to treat science as a series of factual absolutes, Yong writes that it is intrinsically tied to the messiness of society—a truth that COVID-19 lay bare. Because science rubs shoulders with politics, sociology, public health, and pretty much everything else, how can the science writing genre be treated as an insular subject? Yong writes, “The pandemic clarified that science is inseparable from the rest of society, and that connection works both ways. Science touches on everything; everything touches on science. The walls between beats seemed to crumble. What, I found myself asking, even counts as science writing?” [The Atlantic]

Publisher Response to Preprint Use

Publisher Elsevier announced that preprints from its SSRN research platform—“an open-access online preprint community, functioning as a searchable online library”—will now be available through Scopus Preview, Elsevier’s citation database. The publisher said that this move comes in response to the growing acceptance and use of preprints in the research community. As Publishing Perspectives points out, “in the last five years, there’s been a 148-percent increase in the number of researchers publishing preprints on SSRN,” in addition to a surge of preprint downloads, also off SSRN. As Elsevier’s Gregg Gordon notes, “Preprints are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research landscape.” [Publishing Perspectives]

Pantheon and Schocken Books Spread Their Wings

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group announced that Pantheon and Schocken Books will now operate independently, joining the ranks of Knopf, Doubleday and Vintage/Anchor. In addition to this realignment, senior vice-president and publisher Lisa Lucas hopes to expand staff in “new editorial positions focusing on nonfiction and graphic novels.” Lucas stated, “We couldn’t be prouder to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen, reinvigorate and revitalize such iconic imprints, to retain the sterling, nearly-eighty-year-old legacy, while adding bold, modern, radical voices for a new generation of Pantheon and Schocken Books readers.” [Shelf Awareness]