The game of mainstream non-academic publishing has changed with the advent of E L James and other authors, such as Amanda Hocking, who have successfully used self-publishing tools to disseminate their work – and become very famous in the process. This is obviously a far cry from the rather embarrassing associations of the phrase ‘vanity publishing’ . This new game is empowering for the self-published author and what is more people actually read the end product, often in extremely large numbers.
And it is this extensive readership that interests me most in terms of the academic publishing world. Universities now have to account for the ‘impact’ of the research they produce as an institution; however, this angle is often in conflict with the traditional understanding of good academic practice – i.e. publish your work in the right place. However, the ‘right’ place is not necessarily where it will make the most impact, not with the advent of blogs, social media and so-called ‘viral’ phenomena. Unsurprisingly, the new generation of upcoming academics are extremely savvy with such tools and will only become more so.
Naturally, there are scams at work within web based academic publishing, which can be extremely seductive to many postgraduates desperate to get into print (it is absolutely crucial for any future academic job application). However, this is just a further reason to insist on taking back the power.
Question: Is it possible to change the game of academic publishing?
Answer: I really don’t know, but I’ll give it try.