News: Academic Publishing Weekly

AUPresses elects new president, Big Deals get a hard look, and UNC insists on more controversy

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

AUPresses Elects New President

The Association of University Presses has announced a new president, Lisa Bayer, who has served as director of the University of Georgia Press since 2012. Bayer’s experience prior to Georgia has been in marketing and sales, including the marketing director and regional trade editor at the University of Illinois Press. AUPresses’s former president, Niko Pfund, president of Oxford University Press USA, passed the torch to Bayer at last week’s AUPresses Annual Meeting. Bayer delivered concluding remarks, stating her hopes for the next year: “This can be a year to begin to recover, re-envision, realign our individual and overlapping strengths and commonalities as global members of the growing AUPresses.” [Association of University Presses]

UNC Sparks More Controversy—This Time, at the Press

This week, the University of North Carolina Press board’s current chair Eric Muller was denied reappointment by UNC’s Board of Governors. This move follows the denial of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist behind the 1619 Project. Muller—a UNC-Chapel Hill professor of law—has previously opposed the UNC system board’s handling of Chapel Hill’s Silent Sam Confederate monument, in addition to studying social justice issues throughout his career. Muller released a statement on the decision, writing: “It would be an ominous sign for the values of a leading research university and of a celebrated academic press if our system’s Board of Governors were to single out faculty members for punishment for voicing their views on matters within their expertise and research.” [Inside Higher Ed]

If there is a reason for singling me out in this unprecedented way, the system board has not shared it with me or with the UNC Press Board … I would hate to think it had something to do with my focusing public attention on ways in which the law has ignored and harmed the interests of African Americans—and still does. These are matters within my expertise as a legal scholar and historian, the very stuff of the work I do as a university professor.

Eric Muller

What Is the Big Deal?

Ithaka S+R released a new report on the effects of canceling Big Deals with publishers—how does it impact libraries and scholars? Aptly named, “What’s the Big Deal?” looked at 11 university libraries that were rethinking their Big Deal packages, and interviewed almost 90 researchers “highly likely to be affected by a cancellation at their institution.” Ithaka S+R’s Danielle Cooper and Oya Rieger dug into researchers’ preference for version of record, the sustainability of open access, and offered possible recommendations to libraries on how to adjust their journal access. [Ithaka S+R]

Cover of The Sum of Us

Social Justice Books See Continued Demand

The NPD Group released a report this week, highlighting the demand for social justice and race titles in the past year. NPD found that “adult non-fiction subjects with a focus on these topics grew 160% (more than 700,000 units), from January through May 2021 compared to last year.” Books industry analyst for NPD Kristen McLean noted that “these titles are all frontlist titles published in the last year,” suggesting that “new voices on these subjects continue to find an audience.” One of the most popular books in this category is 2021’s The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prospect Together by Heather McGhee, recently highlighted by Choice. [Publishing Perspectives]

Looking into the Crystal Ball (of Scholarly Publishing Content)

How can scholarly publishers expand their content options in a sustainable and innovative way? Prabhakar Bisen of Straive, the e-learning solutions partner, covers the emerging content types in academia (video, podcasts) and the need for better digital, interactive options. Bisen dives into how virtual conferences and the medical field have embraced video, and the potential non-academic audience gained through podcasting. Bisen also touches on the importance of lay summaries, infographics, and consistent engagement with your audience. [Research Information]