Session Proposal: Desert Island Press

Okay, this may be way off base for what others would like to do and may seem eye-avertingly naive and silly, but what the heck. I would love to have a conversation about what is essential when it comes to publishing scholarly monographs. If you found yourself on a desert island and started a scholarly press, what would you want to have with you? Which functions are absolutely key? Which are important but have become cumbersome for one reason or another? Which are things we’d be better off without? And while we’re at it, let’s assume we’re starting a press that is going to be small and lean and yet will have sufficient funding to do the desert island basics well.

For background, I’m a librarian at a small institution with a small library and I’m coming at it from the common reader’s perspective: I would like to make it possible for more people to be able to read interesting books by scholars, particularly in the humanities. In an era when huge chunks of my budget are eaten by (at least this month) SAGE and American Chemical Society bundled journals, offers I literally can’t refuse but which will suddenly cost me an extra $35,000 or so this year (and guess what we won’t be buying as a result?), I want to envision a sustainable future for texts that provide a contextualized and sustained examination of a topic that isn’t trendy enough for trade publishers and yet isn’t so arcane that the readership is self-limiting and small. It would be sweet if I could have committed that $35,000 to something I believe in before it’s too late. I know, that’s not a lot of money, but libraries do have the funds they could invest in a Desert Island Press if they decided to do it, and with enough libraries involved it could get some traction. And we could possibly design a sustainable publishing concept that is not necessarily scalable – as in “let’s do more of it” – but could be replicated by others who could pull together and create something similar.  Right now libraries are becoming the wallet people use to buy on demand, and that’s not sustainable. It’s not even a library.

If this is too off-topic, maybe some folks who are arriving early would be willing to chat over dinner or something.

photo courtesy of tyle_r



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Preparing for THATCamp Publishing 2011

Hi all — Amanda French here, THATCamp Coordinator and co-organizer (which is rare) of THATCamp Publishing. As we get closer to Sunday, October 30th, I wanted to give you more information about 1) workshops, and 2) proposing sessions.

We’ve currently got four workshops planned: WordPress, Anthologize, Open Journal Systems, and Emerging Ebook Standards. See for more information — we’ll add even more in the coming days. Also, we’re thinking about combining the WordPress and Anthologize workshops into one, partly because we’ve planned only three time slots, and having only three workshops would allow us to schedule one workshop per time slot. What’s your opinion? Comment on the blog or the workshops page and let us know. Once we’ve decided that, we’ll put the workshops in the blank schedule for Sunday.

As for proposing sessions, now is the time to start thinking about what you’d like to do or talk about at THATCamp Publishing. If you’re not familiar with the unconference model, you might want to read our About page, but also and especially our page on Proposing a Session. The best way to approach it might be to describe whatever professional problem related to publishing is currently bothering you most, and to pose your session proposal in such a way that you’ll get help with that problem.

To propose a session, log in at and write a blog post outlining your session idea. To write and publish your blog post, go to Posts –> Add New, write your post, and then click Publish. Your blog post will be published to the main page of the THATCamp Publishing site, which will allow us all to read and comment on it.

In the first session on Sunday, we’ll all discuss together which sessions we want to hold that day and when, and you’ll have a chance then to propose new sessions or to ask for a particular time slot.

Questions? Write me at . Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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Announcing THATCamp Publishing!

In conjunction with the 2011 Digital Library Federation Forum, there will be a THATCamp Publishing on Sunday, October 30th, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, Maryland. The chief topic will be new forms of scholarly and trade publishing, especially as facilitated by academic libraries and university presses. Watch this space and/or follow @thatcamppublish for updates.

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