January’s Scholarly BIN

By Brendan Coyne, exhibits and awards manager

A small sampling of news and views important to scholarly publishing from around the web.

Association of American University Presses turning 75
The 134-member Association of American University Presses turns 75 later this year. In celebration of this, the AAUP will, throughout the year, delve into its archives to highlight the “the milestones and important programs that have shaped the association.” The commemoration will be capped by University Press Week in November.

UNC Press director to retire this summer
Our friends over at the University of North Carolina Press announced last week that longtime director Kate Torrey will retire this summer. Torrey, who joined the press in 1989 and took over as director in 1992, is the first woman to head the publishing house and in 2009 Book Business magazine named her one of the 50 Top Women in Book Publishing.

American Library Association director questions big publishers over e-book restrictions
In an interview with Publishers Weekly, ALA executive director Keith Fiels addressed several questions about libraries, publishers, and e-books, especially recent decisions by Penguin and other large publishing houses to alter, freeze, or halt their library e-book licensing programs. Fiels’s most telling comment? “For a major publisher to make a decision that they will not sell their works to a particular group of individuals, to me, that raises some serious issues. I’m not going to go further than that, other than to say we really need to get this resolved because we don’t want this to be an embarrassment to anyone.”

MLA leadership calls for rethinking of humanities dissertations
Acknowledging that scholarly communication is in flux, at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association earlier this  month several MLA leaders called for big changes to Ph.D. dissertations, Inside Higher Ed reported. Most notable for those of us in scholarly publishing: discussions about altering the traditional dissertation model drew heavily on a 2006 MLA report that explicitly challenged the merits of using the standard scholarly monograph in tenure decisions.

ProPublica latest news outlet to see promise in e-books
Nonprofit news organization ProPublica announced it will release e-books next month in partnership with digital publisher Open Road Media, New York Times news blog MediaDecoder reports. The enhanced e-books will package previously published reporting with additional digital content, such as videos and maps, and sell for under $5.

E-book revolution might be more hype and hope than fact
Bowker and the Book Industry Study Group released data recently that raises questions about the extent and pace of e-book growth. Though many in the industry anticipated e-book sales to book buyers to grow by 25% or more in 2011, the actual rate was 17%, MoCo News reports. Moreover, nearly three quarters of “power book buyers”—those who purchase four or more books a month—have never bought an e-book.

The Scholarly BIN (Book Industry News) is a semi-regular roundup of news about and of interest to the scholarly publishing industry. Got a tip? Please send it along to Brendan Coyne.