News: Academic Publishing Weekly

PRH releases diversity audit, National Book Foundation chooses winners, and Spotify moves into the audiobook market

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

Publisher Releases Diversity Audit

Making good on its June 2020 promise, Penguin Random House released the results of its diversity audit, finding significant discrepancies between the demographics of PRH contributors (authors, illustrators, translators) and its readership. The audit compares PRH contributors to the US population and PRH employees, broken down by race and ethnicity. For example, Latinx contributors made up only 5 percent of PRH contributors and 9 percent of PRH staff despite accounting for almost 20 percent of the US population. White contributors made up around 75 percent of PRH contributors and PRH staff even though white people only account for 60 percent of the US population. PRH stated that the audit is only phase one of its process “to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within our company and throughout the publishing industry,” and included future goals and next steps moving forward. [Publishers Weekly]

The Future of Academic Library Spaces

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue. Climate change will create natural disasters that threaten our physical spaces. So, how do these factors impact libraries? David Banush, Tulane University’s dean of libraries, contemplates how the definition of a library might shift as we face increasing obstacles in accessing communal spaces and physical resources. He advocates for “a network of both physical and online resources whose user communities and staffing are fluid, distributed and sufficiently flexible to accommodate both short-term and longer interruptions to services along one or more of its nodes.” Banush speaks to the benefits of library networks—shared collections, distributed staffs, digitization—and the efficacy of collaboration between institutions as the future grows only more uncertain. [Inside Higher Ed]

Librarians at all levels will also need to readjust their own thinking of what it means to collaborate among institutions. For all the library community’s genuinely wonderful inclination to work across institutions for the greater good, a long-standing resistance to sharing has always shadowed those efforts.

David Banush, Tulane University

National Book Awards Winners

This week, the National Book Foundation announced the 2021 award winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature. For nonfiction, Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake from Penguin Random House took home the gold out of 679 submissions. Other winners included Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book for fiction and Martín Espada’s Floaters for poetry. The virtual ceremony was hosted by Phoebe Robinson, founder of the PRH imprint Tiny Reparations Books. Highlights from the acceptance speeches can be found here. [Publishing Perspectives]

Fostering Collaboration in Open Science

In a recent interview, Fiona Hutton, head of STM open access publishing and executive publisher at Cambridge University Press and Assessment, discusses Research Directions, a new initiative that brings researchers together across disciplines. Hutton explains the inspiration for the project, the purpose behind its guided questions format, and the need for a communal space “to bring different players together from a range of disparate fields to collaborate and solve problems together—problems that no one community could solve in isolation.” Hutton also looks ahead to the future of scholarly communications by underscoring the importance of utilizing new technology and putting researchers’ needs first. [Research Information]

Your Spotify Wrapped Just Got a Whole Lot Bigger

Spotify and Findaway graphics

This week, music streaming service Spotify announced its acquisition of Findaway, a digital audiobook distributor. Spotify has already ventured beyond music into the world of podcasting, but this move sets the service up to become a major shaker in the audiobook world. The Verge breaks down the impact this will have not only on Spotify’s business plan, but the broader publishing industry. How will Spotify’s transformation from a music streaming service to a podcast platform to a bookseller impact publishing and listenership trends? Does this deal have the potential to disrupt Audible’s hold on audio content? If Spotify is willing to invest in audiobooks, where will the audio industry go from here?