Is it harder to publish academic books in the digital age?
IS IT HARDER TO PUBLISH
ACADEMIC BOOKS IN THE
Dana Beth Weinberg, PhD
Professor of Sociology and Director of the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied
Eastern Sociological Society Digital Mini Conference
March 17, 2016
Scholarly Needs and Publishers’
• How has the book
market and digital
decisions about the
kinds of books and
authors in which to
Academic Publishing and Academic Jobs
• Hiring, tenure, and promotion
• Dissemination of scholarship
• Peer review publication outlet
Academic Publishing and the Book
• Niche books with relatively small audiences
• Reputation for intellectual quality
• Potential competition from trade publishers for more
popular types of titles
Major Changes in Publishing from
• Ebooks, reprints, and print on demand (POD)
• Indie publishers and indie authors
• Electronic journals, archives, and changing role of the
• Discoverability of books
The Book Explosion
Bowker’s Books in Print (ISBNs)
Original Titles 2002-2012
Titles in Print
Titles in Ebook Only
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
B5 Publisher Large Publisher
University or Academic Press Institutional Publisher
Traditional Audiobook Publisher
Self-Published Author Unmatched
Pursuing more popular topics?
• Analysis of trends in academic publishers’ titles by BISAC
heading showed no steady trend changes by subject.
Academic and University Presses
6,910 7,032 7,056
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Titles by Seasoned and Debut Authors 2007-2012
seasoned author debut author
*With the data starting in 2002, debut authors are defined starting in 2007 as
having their first book published in the reporting year.
• Academic publishers are publishing more titles now than
in the early 2000s. Some of these new titles may be
reprints or ebook versions of previously published works.
• They are publishing steadily in the same subject areas,
suggesting that they are staying to their established niche
markets rather than pursuing more popular subjects.
• There may be a slight decline both proportionately and
overall in opportunities for new authors to publish. This is
a trend to watch.