From black-and-white textbooks to the digital textbook
Alenka Kepic Mohar
This article discusses changes in the materiality of textbooks by examining several examples of primarily Slovene textbooks from various periods. By focusing on their spread design rather than technical aspects (e.g., length, weight, and format), one may infer that their materiality changed with the development of printing technologies and publishing skills. Based on the assumption that textbook visuality is a field of meaning that requires different bodily movements, postures, and engagement with the physical environment to produce cognitive processing, this article sheds light on how the body adapts to the changed materiality of digital textbooks. Numerous micro-movements in a long string of procedures are required in a digital textbook ecosystem. All the participants should be aware of the different demands and properties of the digital textbook ecosystem. Therefore, further empirical research is needed.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize
Originally, literary prizes were restricted to the world of academia, but since the 19th century they have grown to become commercial events in the publishing calendar. This article looks at the role of the literary prize as an agent of change by focusing on two prominent prizes in the United Kingdom: the Booker and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. By analysing data from archive material held at Oxford Brookes University, this article argues that the founding of the Women’s Prize highlighted an issue with the Booker and promoted discussion around that issue, and that the Booker reacted positively in the years after the introduction of a competing literary prize.
The invisible wives, daughters, mothers, and other women behind famous men
In this paper, I review the Thanks for Typing conference held at Oxford University in March 2019, which explored the experiences of women who worked as literary helpmeets for famous men. I also give some details from the papers presented there. In my paper ‘“Jumped-up Typists”: Two secretaries who became guardians of the flame’, I discussed how two literary wives, Sophia Mumford (1899–1997), wife of the American historian and philosopher Lewis Mumford, and Valerie Eliot (1926–2012), second wife of T. S. Eliot, found their identities in supporting, and later defending, their husbands’ work. I also looked at the consequences of their devotion as they grew older. It was clear from the papers presented at Thanks for Typing that the contributions of the women who surround powerful or influential men—not only as typists but as assistants, muses, and even managers of their husbands’ affairs—are often hidden and suppressed. The full acknowledgment of those who contribute to creative and intellectual work is a subject that needs further attention from both men and women.
Alison Baverstock and Jackie Steinitz
To explore the reason why some biographies by or about politicians are more successful than others, and to help publishers consider the range of factors that may impact on their commissioning decisions, we sought to establish a range of likely influencing factors and to combine them in a formula. This is not a magic prediction tool, but rather a range of considerations that need to be worked through for various publishing propositions before decisions are made. As an exercise, and a starting point for wider discussions, it may benefit a group of individuals preparing for an editorial meeting at which commissioning is to be considered.
Erol A.F. Baykal
In praise of small presses
Background: There has been little formal reflection by independent publishing practitioners on how they (do or don’t) capitalize on their brand or imprints.
Aim: To discuss the unique opportunities presented by a small press’s ‘small’ identity.
Method: To document my own experience—as commissioning editor for a trade press, after co-founding a tiny start-up—in the broader context of industry knowledge acquired as editor of the Australian national trade press journal and a publishing academic.
Results: Through the creative writing of a personal opinion piece, I explore how our ad hoc personality-driven small press network may be particularly well primed to respond to challenging—and changing—circumstances.
Conclusion: That it is the nature of independent publishers, whether commercial ventures or micropresses, to be agile and adaptable; to respond intuitively to perceived opportunities; to connect directly with reading communities. That it may also be in the nature of an industry that proudly identifies and markets itself as individualistic and personality driven to not necessarily identify and articulate any such specific strategies … or, indeed, maintain them.
A glorious unravelling
Cody’s Books, in Berkeley, California, had its roots during the mid-1950s in the left-wing sympathies of its founders, the husband–wife team of Fred and Patricia Cody. Serving the University of California nearby, the much admired bookstore became a hangout and haven for intellectually curious students and faculty. In the social protest movements of the 1960s, the store functioned as a refuge from street violence as students and police clashed outside. When long-term employee Andy Ross bought the shop upon the Codys’ retirement, it was a thriving business but soon ran into challenges from encroaching chain stores and the emergence of online shopping. Ross responded variously: sometimes with ambitious, effective bookselling tactics, sometimes with ineffective resentment towards consumers who had abandoned the store. Attempts to survive through risky refinancing and the infusion of foreign investment money to support expansion into San Francisco all backfired. The last Cody’s branch closed ignominiously in 2008.