John Sides on his forthcoming book with Lynn Vavreck

Over at The Monkey Cage, John Sides does a terrific job explaining the unique publishing initiative he and co-author Lynn Vavreck are undertaking, along with their political sciences editor Chuck Myers.

“We are going to try something unusual with this book—at least by academic standards,” writes Sides. How unusual? Well, Sides and his colleagues are tackling unusual from both sides — both in the writing and publishing of the book. The book will be based on articles they are writing for various blogs about YouGov‘s election survey data (you can read some of their posts here at PUP). They are encouraging dialogue with readers via comments so they can refine their text.

Regarding the publishing process, they are also trying something completely new. At an academic press, projects are subject to lengthy peer review processes but Sides and his colleagues have come up with a novel solution. “Blind” readers normally read a complete manuscript to provide feedback, but in order to speed up the publishing schedule for this book, the editorial team “has recruited reviewers who will read and comment on chapters as they are written.”

The publishing strategy for this book is also quite different. We will publish short ebooks — parts of the whole — prior to the print publication. “Princeton will also be publishing the first 2 chapters in electronic form in August 2012. These chapters will deal with the (1) political and economic landscape as the campaign got under way, and (2) the GOP primary. Hopefully they will serve to generate some interest and discussion,” writes Sides.

This process is an experiment in publishing as well as an attempt to meet Princeton University Press’s mission “to disseminate scholarship (through print and digital media) both within academia and to society at large.”

While the team has thought through all the logistics of this process, they are at the mercy of the candidates and the news. As Sides notes, somewhat tongue in cheek, “if the GOP primary doesn’t end soon, we can’t promise anything.”