July 5, 2006

University Presses, Again

Scott McLemee follows up his previous article on university presses with another today, Public Access, in which he recaps the talk he gave, "Publicity in the Digital Age," at the recent conference of the Association of American University Presses. In it he makes a very powerful case that university presses should take advantage of the online world, particularly bloggers, to promote their offerings more.

For one thing, the emerging situation requires doing some research to find out if a given blog or Web publication is likely to take an interest in the book. And the research involved might not be a one-time thing. Having a more or less standard list of journals to send review copies in any given field was appropriate at one point. But somewhat more flexibility is necessary now.

At the very least, it is worthwhile to spend some time learning to use blog search engines — and also to get a feel for how various sites link up to one another. Google Blog Search is particularly helpful for making an initial survey of which blogs might be relevant to a specific topic. Technorati indicates how many links a given blog has received from other sites. It also lets you examine and follow those links — perhaps the quickest way to learn how the conversational terrain is structured.
Hey, you university presses out there, you can thrive and prosper in the new digital age, but you'll have to accept inevitable change, both in the nature of your audience and how you should best reach them. Read McLemee's article and get a few pointers. (Oh, and if you want to send me tons of cool books to read and review, hey, I'm here! Just email me at jdupuis AT yorku DOT ca!)

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