The materiality of academic publishing (our book is finally out!)

I have been working together with a colleague on an edited volume for longer that I care to admit. Undoubtedly, a book collecting a series of essays from a number of established scholars in their field is bound to take some time to come to fruition; different work schedules and commitments can interfere with a project’s deadlines, and generally I found that life just simply happens while a book is being put together so priorities shift and get adjusted. Even though the book had been wrapped up for more than a year now, I only managed to “get closure” by actually handling the hard copy a couple of weeks ago. The gorgeous materiality of this was crucial in solidifying in me a sense of achievement that the electronic PDF proofs did not manage to convey. Don’t get me wrong, I am a full believer in electronic copies – I inhabit the digital age very happily – but being a keen student of all things material, I was also warmly reminded of the crucial importance of our sensual experience, particularly in an object that so clearly blended material and intellectual expectations simultaneously. Receiving the hard copies also had the added advantage of being able to prove to my kids that I have written (well, for their purposes) a book! Somehow, I don’t think the pdf would have cut it.

I had more thoughts on the process of editing a collective volume, which I recorded here:

I plan to come back to these musings in a more extensive manner, also laying out some thoughts on costs, open access and communicating the product of our academic labour. All in due time. I am after all, fairly new to blogging.