Archives for August 2011

Howard Wainer, Uneducated Guesses, at Princeton Public Library, 9/14/11

Author Howard Wainer
Event Dates: September 14, 2011 – 7:00pm
Princeton Public Library, Community Room
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ

“Uneducated Guesses: Using Evidence to Uncover Misguided Education Policies”

A distinguished research scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners and adjunct professor of statistics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Wainer was principal research scientist at Educational Testing Service for 21 years. His book uses statistical evidence to show why some of the most widely held beliefs in education today, and the policies that have resulted from them, are wrong.

Part of the Thinking Allowed series sponsored by the library and Princeton University Press.

Congratulations to PUP authors, winners of the 2011 Arthur Ross Book Award

We have double the reasons to celebrate this year. Not only is This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff the Gold Medal Winner of the 2011 Arthur Ross Book Award given annually by the Council on Foreign Relations, but How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace by Charles Kupchan also receives an Honorable Mention.

According to their web site: “The annual Arthur Ross Book Award recognizes books that make an outstanding contribution to the understanding of foreign policy or international relations. It was endowed by Arthur Ross in 2001 to honor nonfiction works, in English or translation, that merit special attention for bringing forth new information that changes our understanding of events or problems, developing analytical approaches that allow new and different insights into critical issues, or providing new ideas that help resolve foreign policy problems. The 2011 award consists of a $15,000 first prize, a $7,500 second prize, and a $2,500 honorable mention.”

The winners will be honored at a ceremony at the Council on Foreign Relations headquarters in New York on September 8th.

Leora Batnitzky on Judaism: culture or religion?

PUP author and Princeton professor Leora Batnitzky has tackled a Really Big Topic in her forthcoming book, How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought (October).  For a preview, check out Batnitzky’s op-ed in the August 30 edition of The Jewish Week in which she addresses issues of faith and identity.

Drat you, Bryan’s Shearwater!

Photo: Probable Bryan’s Shearwater, Midway Atoll, December 1991. (Reginald David)

So, you are asking yourself — who or what is a Bryan’s Shearwater? and why is Princeton University Press dratting him, her, or it? Well, this is a story almost 50 years in the making.

In 1963, scientists collected a specimen of what they thought was a Little Shearwater. Now, in 2011, DNA testing has revealed that it is actually a new species of shearwater which has been named after Edwin Horace Bryan Jr., who was curator of collections at the B.P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu from 1919 until 1968.

So, why the drat? Well, we should have known that the minute we published the definitive and complete guide to birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and other Western pacific locales, there would be an exciting new discovery that instantly made it incomplete (still the most complete, mind you, but minus 1).

According to a press release from The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, (via The Birdbooker Report,, this is the finding of a lifetime: “Researchers have rarely discovered new species of birds since most of the world’s 9,000-plus species (including about 21 other species of shearwaters) were described before 1900. The majority of new species described since the mid-1900s have been discovered in remote tropical rain and cloud forests, primarily in South America and southeastern Asia. The Bryan’s shearwater is the first new species reported from the United States and Hawaiian Islands since the Po’ouli was described from the forests of Maui in 1974.”

So, now that everyone’s Hawaiian checklist has gotten a little bit bigger, how will you recognize a Bryan’s Shearwater? According to the release, “the Bryan’s Shearwater is the smallest shearwater known to exist. It is black and white with a black or blue-gray bill and blue legs.” However, as the release notes, the fact that Bryan’s shearwaters have only just now been discovered means they are extremely rare and may even be extinct, so best of luck in spotting one!

Advice from your future publicist, QR Codes

While I might not actually be your publicist, these are some hints, tips, and things I’ve gleaned during my 5 years in PUP publicity. In part, this series of posts will be a response to a fantastic new blog I’ve been reading: Marketing for Scientists by Marc Kuchner (which will soon be a book from Island Press and should be required reading for any scientist with aspirations of putting pen to paper). I thought it might be fun to riff on some of the ideas there and how they are useful not just to scientists, but specifically to scientists who are authors. So here goes:

Do you have a QR Code?

Marketing for Scientists resource:

QR Codes are those square black and white blobs you are seeing everywhere (including to the right of this post). People with smart phones can download a free app that allows them to scan QR Codes from postcards, posters, billboards, and even this guy’s chest. Once scanned, the QR Code directs them to an assigned web site. They are, in short, a terrific tool for promotions and publicity when used right. MFS suggests using QR Codes on posters at conferences or on your business cards, but this is just the tip of the iceberg and publishers, like everyone else, are trying to figure out how to best use QR Codes.

I first heard about QR Codes when I was having lunch with Robert Kurzban and Eric Schwartz to discuss the marketing of (the then-forthcoming book) Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite. Rob mentioned he was going to make a QR Code that linked to the book page part of his powerpoint display for his book talks. His idea was to have the last thing on the screen be a QR Code that people could scan from their seats. This QR Code would direct them to a web site where they could learn more about the book and, more importantly, place an order. The usefulness of this is immediately obvious– many stops on an academic author tour (think academic departments, small colleges, not-for-profit organizations or think tanks) will host an event, but are reluctant to make books available for sale. For these talks, PUP has traditionally distributed flyers or postcards, but those are easy to ignore or to lose. Rob’s inspired use of a QR Code immediately makes any event a book-selling event.

But, this just hints at the possibilities. QR Codes are a useful tool for publicizing and selling any product, but they are especially useful for books and the publishing industry is using them in particularly sensible and innovative ways. PUP’s marketing department currently uses QR Codes on some direct mail pieces (in fact the QR Code illustrating this post is from a recent direct mail postcard — scan it to find out what book is featured) and at BEA this last year many other presses were using QR Codes to direct people to their online catalogs or sample chapters as an alternative to lugging printed materials around. Bookstores are jumping into the fray as well, using QR Codes to direct customers to everything from book trailers and author interviews to employee reviews. The New York Public Library recently held an overnight scavenger hunt for hundreds of QR Codes scattered throughout their holdings.

In spite of this flurry of activity in recent months, there are still some issues with using QR Codes for outreach (MFS highlights a few in their post), not the least of which is that many authors aren’t exactly sure what the fuss is about or how QR Codes could be useful to them. So, here is some very general advice for authors who want to use QR Codes to promote their books:

a) Create at least one QR Code for your book and use it — put it on postcards, ask event venues to include it on invitations, use it in your Powerpoint presentations. I have seen an increasing number of publishers and authors using QR Codes on book jackets or in advertising.

b) Be prepared to answer a lot of “what is this?” questions and to advise people on how to download a QR Scanner and use it. This page at Media Bistro is aimed at boosktores, but it has links to sites where you can create QR Codes and apps that can scan QR Codes.

c) Avoid the mysterious, minimal route when designing around QR Codes. Include basic book information (title, pub date, and web site) alongside QR Codes or else you are wasting an opportunity to reach non-smart phone readers too.

d) Think carefully about where your QR Code takes people. Should you link to your blog? Your book trailer? What do you want people to do once they get there? Are you trying to drive up pre-orders? or boost attendance at a local event? You can have more than one QR Code, so use them wisely.

e) Do you have a lot of extra material for your book? This comes up a lot for academic texts where there are data sets, applications, programs, and course materials that are only available online. Use QR Codes to direct people to this extra material instead of lengthy URLs that are susceptible to typos and hard to remember.

f) Keep an eye out for innovative uses of QR Codes. Scan them and see what other authors are doing with their codes.

I am sure there are a hundred other ways to use QR Codes. Have you seen a particularly creative use of QR Codes to promote a book or author? Please share it below.

A small hint for The New Yorker’s Shake Shake contest

At the risk of giving too much away, one of the covers in The Book Bench’s Shake, Shake contest looks mighty familiar:

Go make your best guesses at which covers they are featuring and you might win a copy of the brand-new anthology “The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker.”

Official rules and how to enter are here:

Snow Crash at UTSA, Second Life featuring Tom Boellstorff’s book

This eerily beautiful video features a computer voice reading portions of Tom Boellstorff’s Coming of Age in Second Life. Enjoy!

An update from PUP Europe

Professor Goldin explored ideas taken from his latest book, Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future, during The World Today on Monday 8th August.

Also on Monday 8th August, following on from his interview in last month’s Guardian G2 magazine, Professor Mayor-Schönberger discussed his book, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, as part of the LSE’s Summer School programme. Read the G2 interview here.

The authors of two of the most hightly anticipated books in the Autumn 2011 season are each being interviewed by Laurie Taylor this month for BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed. Ruiz discussed his forthcoming book, The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization on 10th August, while Hamermesh will be talking about his new study, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful, during the programme on 14th September. Both books are scheduled for release in September.

Richard gave a 20 minute talk at this year’s Fair, followed by a signing of his latest book: The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. Visit the website for full details.


In recent months, we have seen a number of our Board members enter prestigious new positions: JONATHAN BATE was elected Provost of Worcester College, University of Oxford; KAREN O’BRIEN became Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) for the University of Birmingham; GEOFF MULGAN was appointed as the new Chief Executive of NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts; and DIANE COYLE was named as the BBC Trust Vice-Chair. Congratulations to all on these appointments.

**DIARMAID MACCULLOCH last month received two honorary degrees from American institutions: a Doctorate
of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Letters from the University of the South at Sewanee.

**SARAH THOMAS last month celebrated the Bodleian’s acquisition of the autograph manuscript of Jane Austen’s
unfinished novel, The Watsons. The last major Austen manuscript to have been in private hands, The Watsons is the most significant Austen item to have come to the market in over twenty years.

**DANNY QUAH hosted the LSE Big Questions Lecture last month on “East beats West? Is the East taking over the world?”. A highly interactive lecture for schools, the lecture explored how the world is changing, with countries such as China and India becoming wealthier and more powerful than ever before.

Jacob Schiach is almost as excited as we are about Reinventing Discovery

Even though the cover is reversed, that galley is easily recognizable as Reinventing Discovery by Michael Nielsen. We expect finished books in October, but so far most of the reactions have been, well, you can see for yourself…

Via our friends at Citizen Science Quarterly.

News from the European office – the rights department

As Al Bertrand posted a few weeks ago, it’s easy to overlook all the activity that takes place after a book is published and English language sales have begun. In the translation rights world, promotion of books begins a few months prior to publication and often is targeted at one of the major book fairs. Preparation for Frankfurt Book Fair in October is well and truly underway, with the rights calendar almost full for five days’ worth of appointments with agents and publishers, and the selection of key titles already in progress. We’re already beginning to design our Spring 2012 rights guide and as soon as the rights guide goes out, we will be responding to interest in upcoming titles.

Of course, the business of making deals for translation rights extends far beyond the few months surrounding publication, as PUP’s deals for the last few weeks demonstrate. Summer is traditionally a quiet time in the rights world as publishers in some countries are minimally staffed over the warmest months of the year, but we’ve had an excellent crop of rights deals of late. Most recently we’ve seen a Polish language deal with Krytyka for Roman Frydman and Michael Goldberg’s Beyond Mechanical Markets, which was published earlier this year. But we’ve also had offers for Sheldon Wolin’s Tocqueville between Two Worlds (Chinese simplified rights), which we first published in 2001, and Steven Shapin and Simon Scheffer’s, Leviathan and the Air Pump (Japanese rights), which we first published in 1985 and have just reissued in paperback. In some cases, publishers considering the books have just taken a very long time to reach a decision, but usually late interest in a book comes from scholarly recommendation or media interest. Nonetheless, it’s always interesting to see what interests publishers from PUP’s backlist.

Naturally, the majority of rights interest is focused on recent and forthcoming titles. We launched Daniel Hamermesh’s Beauty Pays to international interest at London Book Fair earlier this year, and just in time for the publication of the English edition, we have received three excellent rights offers: Japanese rights have gone to Nikkei Publications, while Chinese simplified rights have gone to The Oriental Press, and Chinese complex rights to China Times.

In any case, foreign editions are an important means of extending the reach of a given book and its author, whatever the publication date of the English edition.

– Kimberley M. Williams, International Rights Manager

Video Series–Daniel Hamermesh explains why “Beauty Pays”

Scarcity of Beauty

The marriage market, employment, and how we judge each other: UT Economist and PUP author Daniel Hamermesh on the scarcity of beauty.

This is the last of five videos in which Hamermesh explains some of the research he did for Beauty Pays. If you missed the others, find them at the links below!

Beauty and Happiness

Why Beauty is Good for Business

Why Economists care about Beauty

The Economic Benefits of Beauty

Flamingos, Up Close and Personal (in their nests)

Natalie Angier writes a terrific piece about the popular, yet understudied, flamingo in the New York Times today.

I have always been fascinated by these birds, but never more so than after watching them “dance” at the Philadelphia Zoo. A group of at least 24 birds moving forward, back, sideways in perfect rhythm. They were joined by a large duck who kept up fairly well with their fast-paced dance. We may not know precisely why they are dancing (Angier’s article points to research that suggests flocks are trying to coordinate mating times so that young hatch on the same day which increases chance of survival), but one thing we do know is what their nests look like!

Well, here is an exclusive glimpse from Avian Architecture of a field of flamingo nests. Enjoy!