A week-long showcase of academic book excellence, Academic Book Week, is to run in the UK in November.
The event, scheduled for 9th-16th November, is being co-ordinated as part of the Academic Book of the Future Project and has the backing of the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association.
Discussions are still at an early stage, but Dr Samantha Rayner [pictured], director of the centre for publishing at University College London and principal investigator at the Academic Book of the Future Project, revealed plans at ALPSP seminar "The Scholarly Book of the Future", held in London on 12th February. Publishers, authors, booksellers and academic libraries will offer book readings, workshop sessions, promotions and social media competitions, with the British Library and major department libraries thinking of opening up their special collections and holding tours. A panel event at a literary festival is also on the cards, Rayner added.
She told The Bookseller: "It's open to everyone – we hope all our communities of practice as well as the general public will get involved. What it's all about is getting a better appreciation of what each other does. Publishers can showcase innovative digital books, or physical books, and show that to researchers who may be thinking, 'Why do we need publishers?' And university libraries can show what they do - so many students just use Google, and just as Amazon is cutting out physical bookshops, Google is cutting out the libraries. This is an opportunity to say, 'Look at everything we do, the special collections we've got.'"
She added: "There will be physical events, online events like webinars – it depends on how engaged the communities are."
The Academic Book of the Future project is a two-year research venture looking at how scholarly work in the arts and humanities will be produced and read in coming years. Launched last October, the project is holding UK-wide workshops and focus group over the next year with librarians, publishers, booksellers, researchers and readers to examine the dynamics of academic book production and curation, and the opportunities and challenges of technological developments.
However, Rayner said Academic Book Week would be open to all disciplines. "For this event, it's important to try to make it about any academic book." She added: "If it [Academic Book Week] doesn't work, well, we tried; and if it does, then it could become a regular event."
Ideas and suggestions for Academic Book Week are welcome, and should go to Academic Book of the Future's project manager Rebecca Lyons on firstname.lastname@example.org.