Talk of the Town: 8 Things that Happened in the Publishing Industry in January 2021

In January 2021, the new year brought with it fresh hope for the possibility of a better year, alongside the expectation of challenges ahead. Will this year see the return of a sense of – albeit changed – normality? 

That’s why Anthem Press has curated 8 note-worthy articles that contribute to a glimpse of the current state and future trajectory of the publishing industry. Whether data, news or commentary, we aim to keep you informed.

1. Open Access and Global South: It is More than a Matter of Inclusion

The second week of January saw one of the first international scholarly publishing events of 2021 – the Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) meeting, organised by Elsevier and held completely virtually. Haseeb Irfanullah writes about four issues he recognised when the panel discussed Global South and Open Access, explaining how ‘it is more than a matter of inclusion’. Read the piece here

2. As Political Divide Widens, Will Big Houses Rethink Conservative Publishing?

Simon & Schuster were quick to cancel the upcoming publication of Josh Hawley’s The Tyranny of Big Tech after he was seen by many to have played a part in inciting the violence which occured on Capitol Hill. What does this say about the future of publishing for conservative figures with often extreme view points? Some say publishing should publish a wide variety of voices; others say dangerous opinions shouldn’t be given a platform. Rachel Deahl writes about the situation here.

3. Against Academic Book Reviews: The capsule format leads to painfully dull work. It’s time to try something new.

Paul Musgrave writes about the problems with academic book reviews. Criticism has been levelled at the literary book review for being unsatisfactory – ‘too nice, too bland, too nepotistic’. Academics may find that these comments resonate with the scholarly review field too – it’s time to do something different.

4. Canada’s Wattpad Announces it’s being Acquired by South Korea’s Naver

In a US $600 million cash and stock deal, South Korean based Naver has acquired Wattpad. Wattpad is to retain its leadership team following the take-over by the tech giant. Find out more about the deal and what it could mean here.

5. Evaluating Publishers as Partners with Libraries and Higher Education

In a guest post for The Scholarly Kitchen Rachel Caldwell discusses how libraries should evaluate how well a publisher’s practices align ‘with the values of libraries, public and land-grant institutions, and some learned societies’. She suggests a model for this evaluation, namely a system termed Publishers Acting as Partners with Public Institutions of Higher Education and Land-grant Universities (PAPPIHELU, or PAPPI for short).

6. COVID-19 and Book Publishing: Impacts and Insights for 2021

Three independent, well established publishing industry consultants have come together to create a free report about the effect of COVID-19 on the publishing industry. The report covers many aspects of the industry from retail and higher education to libraries and bookstores. Read the findings of the report here.

7. Lockdown made our library better

Marion Tesser, a librarian at Kingston Libraries tells The Bookseller how the effects of lockdown and COVID-19 have actually changed her library for the better. Quick to start on a digital program, Kingston Libraries have made the most of digital offerings and have also found a way to reinvent their way of working. COVID-19 has forced innovation, with positive results – read the piece here.

8. TikTok demand accelerates British Library sea shanty guide

Demonstrating how current trends always affect the publishing world, British Library Publishing is to bring forward the release of a sea shanty guide, due to overwhelming interest in the genre on Twitter and TikTok. Find out more about the guide here.