PRESENTATION: Strategies for reconstructing the pre-history of the ebook through catalogue archives

September 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Abstract: Amazon’s dominance of the ebook trade since 2007 can be credited to their erasure of evidence about the historical development of ebooks prior to the launch of the Kindle. This activity included removing catalogue records for their ‘Ebook and E-Doc’ store, a strategy Amazon repeated with the removal of old public domain Kindle titles in 2014. Early ebook experiments prior to the Kindle were not financially lucrative but provided the foundation for the platform’s future success. In this presentation, I will explore the challenges of analysing contemporary digital publishing due to the shifting landscape prior to the Kindle’s entry to the market. I will use a case study of Microsoft LIT format (discontinued in 2012) and, Microsoft’s dedicated catalogue of ebook titles to demonstrate the importance of the catalogue website for contemporary book historical research.
The preservation of the original ebooks is an optimistic ideal for platforms that have shut down and are therefore only available for consumers who have kept backups of files from at least half a decade ago. As a consequence, catalogues are vital evidence of what titles were available for sale. The reconstruction and preservation of these corporate catalogue records, only partially available through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The preservation of these metadata sources allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the history of the ebook and the flow of content from platforms as they fall in and out of fashion. In this paper, I present some initial findings from reconstructing this catalogue and highlight the importance of archiving contemporary ebook catalogues to preserve important evidence of early twenty-first century publishing practices.

PUBLICATION: Peer Review in Practice

September 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Butchard, Dorothy, Simon Rowberry, Claire Squires, & Gill Tasker (2017), “Peer Review in Practice”. BOOC.

Preface: The report Peer Review in Practice was originally published in beta version during Peer Review Week 2016. It was the first stage in a mini-project focusing on peer review as part of the broader Academic Book of the Future project, and reviews the existing literature of peer review, and builds models for understanding traditional and emerging peer review practices.

The report underwent its own peer review. The beta version allowed readers to make comments upon the report, and a peer review was also commissioned by UCL Press. The former are still available on the beta version, while the latter is available here. The author of the latter (Professor Jane Winters of the School of Advanced Studies, University of London) made her peer review anonymously, but agreed on request that her comments be made public and her identity revealed.

The comments we received on the beta version were from a small number of individuals, and provided some useful additional resources and suggestions. As discussed in much of the literature of peer review, however, it was difficult to encourage substantial numbers of scholars to participate in the open, post-publication peer review. We also noted that the comment function led to responses being made about individual sentences or paragraphs, rather than providing overall analysis of the report. Overall, as an experiment in open post-publication peer review, we had hoped to receive more responses that would enable the report to develop further an ongoing core of knowledge and analysis of peer review. This current version of the report also has a commenting function, and we encourage the scholarly and publishing community to engage further with our report, in order to make it a useful ongoing resource.

One of the points made in the traditional peer review was about the lack of information about monograph publishing, something which we flag up in the introduction to our report. There is little research currently written on this subject, although as part of our mini-project, we are working on a forthcoming journal article focusing on peer review and monographs publishing in the Arts and Humanities. There are also further research projects focusing on peer review, including that encapsulated in a report by Fyfe et al., Untangling Academic Publishing: A History of the Relationship Between Commercial Interests, Academic Prestige and the Circulation of Research (May 2017), and the forthcoming project on ‘Reading Peer Review’, headed by Professor Martin Eve. The next stage in our own research into peer review is examining the language of peer review in Arts and Humanities journals.

DOI: 10.14324/111.9781911307679.15

Repository Version