Two major new reports demonstrate that the future of the academic book is at a crossroads with the number of new book proposals growing rapidly but sales per title continuing to fall. Researchers on the Academic Book of the Future project are recommending that academics and publishers work together to develop a new vision for the sector that embraces technology and focuses on enhancing the readers experience.
The findings of the two-year research initiative, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in collaboration with The British Library, and led by Dr Samantha Rayner (UCL), are unveiled in a Policy Report written by Dr Michael Jubb, together with a Project Report outlining the extensive activities and achievements of the project, authored by Professor Marilyn Deegan (KCL).
The reports highlight that although a willingness to collaborate across the different stakeholder groups is very positively proven by the outputs of the project, greater dialogue involving academics, libraries, publishers, sales agents, booksellers, intermediaries and beyond, in a context of rapid change and growing external pressures, is vital for sustaining vibrant scholarly communications in the arts and humanities in the future.
The report also stresses that, while there are already diverse examples of digital innovations transforming academic book publishing, more research is needed to understand reader behaviours in online environments, to capitalise on the true potential of digital technologies, and to address concerns around the preservation of digital texts.
The Academic Book of the Future project has produced a substantial range of outputs over the past two years, including the Project Report, Policy Report, numerous commissioned reports on specific issues, surveys, over 50 blog posts, formal articles and collections, BOOC (an innovative OA publication from UCL Press), Academic Book Week, the Academic Book of the Global South and much more. Additional background and resources can be found on the Academic Book of the Future website: https://academicbookfuture.org/.
The full reports can be viewed at: https://academicbookfuture.org/end-of-project-reports-2/