I put together a proposal before the summer, for a book on digital scholarship. It's part-polemic and part academic monograph. I want to explore the changes to academic practice brought about by three key characteristics: digital, networked and open.
I wanted to find an open access publisher, so I'm pleased to say that it's been accepted by Bloomsbury Academic. Their model is that they give away a free HTML version, you can buy a standard hard and paperback version, or you can buy a version that also gives you access to additional online content. I don't know how much this additional content line will work, but kudos to them for trying a new model.
Before I embark on the writing, a couple of thoughts:
i) Much of the book will be adapted from blog posts here. In this sense I've already been writing the book for four years. Lots of writers do this – Shirky's books always feel as though I have already read them because you know so much of his output. This is one possible downside of writing continually in the open – a book will seem a bit familiar to many readers. As I go along I'll be blogging bits of it as well, for instance the recent pregnant widow post. My apologies in advance then if this means that when you read the book (you will read it won't you?) you have a sense of deja vu.
ii) Why write a book at all? There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I like to write and a book gives you more space to explore ideas. And the second is that it is a nice way of bundling together content in a way that is both recognised and easily shareable.
iii) Why not just self-publish? I considered this, it would mean I'd get to keep more of the money (but then keeping a small amount or a large amount of not very much still gives you not very much). But there is a sense of legitimacy in having a publisher accept it. They also hopefully provide some services such as copy-editing and have a distribution channel which may help it get out there. And I particularly wanted to explore what it would be like to publish with an open access approach.
I've got some ideas for things I might try out for the book, including getting input from my network, so be prepared to find excuses. In the meantime, here is Elvis Costello with the title of this post: