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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the American hardcover revolution, in the 1980s and 1990s, Alfred A. Knopf established itself as the leading publishing house in book design. Founded in New York in 1915, Knopf has been the recipient of many literary prizes and in 1999 was awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Corporate Leadership Award, a prize that recognizes forward-thinking organizations that have been instrumental in the advancement of design by applying the highest standards. Knopf made a name for itself using quality in design along with quality in writing as a strategy for its long-lasting success. One of the main people responsible for this success has been the graphic designer Chip Kidd, one of the most renowed American book cover designers alive. Kidd started working at Knopf in 1986 and soon became the go-to designer for well-known writers such as Michael Crichton, Haruki Murakami, and James Ellroy. His work shows an intuitive understanding of the narrative and a unique and deep connection between text and paratext. Kidd stretches the visual boundaries between words and visuals, asking readers to bridge the gap between what they read and what they see. His covers leave the image open to interpretation; this deliberate lack of definition engages contemporary readers more than traditional covers do. This article illustrates, through the analysis of a selection of the most significant covers designed by Kidd, how his work at Knopf helped create a revolution and shape a new visual language in American book design.
Seeking to improve student enrolment, engagement, and retention, Kingston University began a pre-arrival shared reading scheme in 2014–2015, sending a free book to every student about to start at the university and making copies available to staff in all roles and departments across the institution. A number of associated events were organized and outcomes monitored through a variety of project-specific and institutional metrics. Continuing with the scheme in 2015–2016, Kingston University and Edinburgh Napier University joined together as research partners. Edinburgh Napier, having participated in the process of choosing a book for all to read, made the same single title available to their students and staff. In this paper the processes and outcomes of the collaboration are reported, including the differences in project implementation in the two institutions and what they learned from each other. Recommendations are made for how universities can work together on projects of mutual desirability, pointing out particular associated sensitivities, in this case when managing a long-distance collaboration, and what can be learned for the future.
As Children’s Laureate 2013–2015, Malorie Blackman raised awareness of the lack of racial diversity in children’s fiction. Underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in fiction and the publishing industry’s infrastructure is a severe problem in the world of children’s books, as illuminated by research into the publishing environment of the past 15 years, and the books populating current bestseller charts. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of economic and symbolic capital is important to understanding how diversity is highlighted in the contemporary literary field, but his polarization of the different form of capital as motivation for creating art is reductive. Storytelling is about combining voices and experiences, and publishers can, and should, combine economic and symbolic motivations in publishing diverse fiction for children. Publishing a book because it will be successful economically and because it is the right thing to do are not mutually exclusive; in publishing diverse children’s fiction, both motives can and should inspire us.
This essay is based on a talk the author gave at the By the Book conference in Florence in June 2019. It examines the power dynamics in the Italian publishing world from the perspective of a fiction writer. Writing and publishing are two completely different worlds that can be differently approached. What’s the point of writing? Should writers write about what they know, or about what they do not know? Can publishing be put off? What’s the role of literary agents in the publishing process? The author’s answers to these questions are based on her personal experience.
To sell a novel as socially relevant, the book cover, prefaces, and other paratext can help convey why readers should care and how the story should be read. But relevance can expire as society moves on. Reprints of groundbreaking classics that no longer engage contemporary concerns adapt their paratext to reach new readers, often by emphasizing the book’s historical and/or literary position. This article examines paratextual strategies across time and space for three Scandinavian novels with exceptional influence. Enlightenment-promoting Niels Klim’s Underground Travels (1741) was the region’s first novel; Hunger (1890) is praised by many as the world’s first modernist novel; and The Man on the Balcony (1967) became the progenitor of Nordic Noir. Early paratext used anonymity, false veracity, or documentary elements to sell relevance. But with commercial success, and temporal and geographical distance, paratext became increasingly author focused and self-referential, at times all but ignoring the author’s intent for the story.
This two-part article is a sequel to a two-part paper published in Logos in 2008–2009. It provides a round-up of the current situation of the book industry in Africa today (primarily that in English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa), together with a brief review of the activities of the various organizations that have supported African publishing over the years. Part 1 examines the persistent failure of African governments to support their book industries and public libraries in a tangible and positive fashion. It reviews the current status of book development councils in Africa, the unsatisfactory progress in establishing national book policies, the challenges of generating book industry data, and the opportunities presented to African publishers by the new digital environment. An Appendix provides a list of conferences, meetings, and seminars on publishing and book development held in Africa between 1968 and 2019. Part 2 of this article will appear in Logos, 30 (4).