Hello and welcome to This Fortnight in Publishing.
This has been a fortnight of reversals. After videos surfaced showing Milo Yiannopoulos condoning sexual relationships between adults and teens, Simon & Schuster finally decided to cancel their book deal with the author. The author is known to have previously called any number of individuals/groups any number of degrading names that will not be listed here. The deal had been announced in December 2016 and has attracted considerable controversy since. While some have defended it as freedom of speech, others have labeled it a cynical money-making scheme. Boycotts by authors and reviewers were proposed. It is unclear what repercussions the book deal would have for the credibility of Threshold, the right-wing Simon & Schuster imprint. Now that they have dropped the book, will the boycotts go away?
In another interesting reversal, the CBSE board has decided that perhaps expecting all CBSE schools to switch to NCERT books in the next three months may not be such a great idea. Instead, they have proposed that they will now "review" the books of private publishers. Kerala CBSE schools have decided to just go ahead and ignore the notice since the words "compulsory" or "mandatory" had not been included. Over 1,400 schools have ordered 32 lakh NCERT books following the notice.
In other news, the Obamas have closed a book deal for $65 million with Penguin Random House. The move reflects the industry's faith that Obama's book may not just be a bestseller, but may become an American classic that will continue to sell for decades to come. For comparison, Bill Clinton's memoir, My Life, won a $15 million advance in 2004.
The ferment within the academic publishing market continues. The open access movement, which was started to combat the prohibitive pricing of journals under the subscription model, hasn't quite taken off. Peer-reviewed open access journals charge authors for peer reviewing, editing, and publication services, but this system is getting high-jacked by predatory journals who mislead authors into paying large amounts for minimal if not absent peer-reviewing and editing. However, an interesting article in Scholarly Kitchen points out that perhaps authors aren't being "mislead" by predatory journals, but are willingly publishing in them to advance their careers with lesser effort. Perhaps the problem is with academic incentives - with the number of papers published translating into career advancement - than with academic publishing. And if so, perhaps we need another term than "predatory publishing" that suggests that authors are being ripped off. These publishers are fulfilling a need in the market created by the pressure of academic incentives - a need to publish quickly and cheaply. Lulu, one of the biggest self-publishing giants in the US, aims to cater to this need with Glass Tree, a book self-publishing service for academics.
Here's a little bit of trivia to wind up this edition: Tom Hanks is coming out a short story collection, where each story revolves around a different typewriter.
As always, direct all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good week everyone!
Amid the plethora of new models for academic publishing comes Glasstree, a DIY offering from US self-publishing company Lulu.com.
24 writers were conferred with the Sahitya Akademi Award which is given by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. The awards felicitated authors across more than 20 languages.
Humans proved they have the competitive edge in comprehension of original texts compared to translation programs, despite the rapid improvement of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. (For now.)
Advent of online bookstores, rise in book piracy, a flourishing photocopy culture and an increase in number of foreign publishers setting up shop in India, are behind the slump in the book market.
For a store that opened its doors barely three days ago, Higginbothams exudes an air of age, familiarity and old-world charm. But perhaps that’s inescapable, but also welcome, for a bookstore – possibly India’s oldest – that has stood rooted in its place even as the world around it transformed completely.
After 10 years of penning thrillers, author Ashwin Sanghi is shifting gears to explore non-fiction.
The decision was taken after a series of meetings with the MHRD, CBSE, and the National Council of Educational Research and Training to ensure that the books are in accordance with the National Curriculum Framework.
Alibaba's UCWeb to compete with Google and FB in India; opts for recommendations-based strategy in the country and will be offering monetary benefits to users who contribute self-generated content on the platform.
Barack and Michelle Obama each just sold a book in a joint deal that appears to be bigger than any previous presidential book deal in history. Reportedly, they are making $65 million. It’s a move that signals the publishing industry’s faith in the enduring value of a book from the Obamas.
Since the word "compulsory" was not included in the notice, the association has decided not to fully implement the directive by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) that has asked schools to use books printed and published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for classes I to XII for the upcoming 2017-18 academic year.
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'This Fortnight in Publishing' was started in April 2016 to bring together information on the publishing industry (in particular, India) from varied sources. Click here to view our archives.
After enduring withering criticism since it was revealed in late December that it planned to publish a book by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, Simon & Schuster said late Monday that it has canceled the book.
Oxford Bookstore in Delhi’s Connaught Place has cancelled activist Teesta Setalvad’s discussion on her new memoir, citing the “volatile situation” in the city. The development follows a series of disruptions at university events in North India, which involved members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Pearson has posted a record £2.6bn loss for last year after it took a massive write-down on its North American higher education business. The education giant's problems deepened in the crucial fourth quarter of last year as the new academic year began and students opted to rent their textbooks rather than buy them.
An overview of usage trends across libraries and journals indicates that usage is generally stable or up, archives remain of interest, and consumption doesn't align with authorship or funding.
A study of the output of American university presses from 2009 through 2013, which shows the number of monographs published by U.S. presses.
Described by a Whitman scholar as a ‘a fun, rollicking, creative, twisty, bizarre little book’, the discovery has been made available free online.
Stemming from the southwestern Hunan Province county of Jiangyong, a small group of women in the 19th and 20th centuries practiced this special script that no man could read or write. The writing system allowed these women to keep autobiographies, write poetry and stories, and communicate with “sworn sisters,” bonds between women who were not biologically related.
Ali Cobby Eckermann, an Australian indigenous poet forcibly taken from her family as a child, discovered without warning last week she had just won one of the richest literary prizes in the world.
Some of the winners of the PEN America Literary Awards have been announced. Prizes include PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and PEN/Jen Stein Grant for Oral Literary History.
Before it was published, censors approved Ahmed Naji's subversive novel 'Using Life' – so how did he end up in jail for what he wrote?
Stephanie Young on the storied and complicated history of the feminist bookstore.
Tom Hanks, Krysten Ritter, Wesley Snipes, Chris Colfer, Andrew McCarthy, and B.J. Novak, are all slated to release books this year.