Joel Waldfogel on Digital Renaissance

WaldfogelThe digital revolution poses a mortal threat to the major creative industries—music, publishing, television, and the movies. The ease with which digital files can be copied and distributed has unleashed a wave of piracy with disastrous effects on revenue. Cheap, easy self-publishing is eroding the position of these gatekeepers and guardians of culture. Does this revolution herald the collapse of culture, as some commentators claim? Far from it. In Digital Renaissance, Joel Waldfogel argues that digital technology is enabling a new golden age of popular culture, a veritable digital renaissance

Are we living in a digital renaissance? How can we tell?

We are absolutely experiencing a digital renaissance. There are a few big signs. The first is the explosion in the number of new cultural products being created. The number of new songs, books, movies, and television shows created and being made available to consumers has increased by large amounts. There has been a tripling in the number of new songs, and similar growth rates for other sectors.

Of course, quantity alone is not enough to qualify a renaissance. What makes the recent period a renaissance is that the recent crops of new products are appealing to consumers, compared with old products. By various measures, new music, television shows, books, and movies are really good compared with earlier vintages.

And finally, we know it’s a digital renaissance because the higher quality of the new vintages is driven by the products made possible by digitization, i.e. new technologies that make it possible for small-scale creators and intermediaries outside of the traditional mainstream to bring products to market. The fruits of the digital renaissance include the music on independent record labels, the self-published books, movies from independent film makers, and television shows distributed outside of the traditional distribution channels. Again, many of these new products are created and distributed without the support of the traditional cultural gatekeepers (major record labels and movie studios, traditional television networks, and major publishing houses).

What will happen to traditional gatekeeping? Is it going away or will we see the creation of new gatekeepers?

First, while lots of creation now happens outside of the traditional gatekeepers, those traditional gatekeepers still have an important role. Once an artist has demonstrated his or her commercial promise, the traditional players are well-placed to bring new works to a large audience. Quite often, an artist will become known using independent channels and will then get snapped up by a traditional player. This happened with the famous self-published Fifty Shades books, and it happens with many musical acts—think Arcade Fire—whom consumers first encounter on indie labels.

Even though digitization has allowed a lot of people to create their work and put it in front of potential audiences, consumers have limited attention and limited capacity to figure out which of the new products are good. This puts a lot of power in the hands of new kinds of gatekeepers, the people choosing the content at Netflix, or the people deciding which products to recommend at Spotify or Amazon.

Why has piracy been a bigger problem for some creative industries over others?

Music faced piracy first and had to “write the book” on how to respond. It’s hard to go first since there are few examples to follow. It took the music industry four years to respond to Napster, until the iTunes Music Store. For four years there were convenient ways to steal music digitally but no convenient way to buy it. In the meantime, many consumers had become accustomed to getting music without paying. Music also had the problem that digital music files are small enough to move quickly over the Internet, while movie files were initially too large.

The industries hit after were also able to learn from the experience of the music industry, and responded more quickly. For example, roughly a year after the appearance of YouTube, the major television networks were making their shows available online free of charge.

Having convenient ways to buy digital products goes a long way toward stemming piracy. One of the first impacts of Spotify—the streaming music service—was to substantially reduce music piracy. More recently, Spotify (and other paid subscription services) have also reversed the long decline in music revenue.

What are your thoughts on copyright law in the United States? Does it need to be stricter? Better enforced?

The reason we have intellectual property rules, such as copyright laws, is to provide incentives for people to create. The goal is to make sure there is a steady supply of new products that consumers find appealing.

The digital era has ushered in a great deal of piracy and has therefore threatened the revenue of creators and intermediaries. If that’s all that digitization had done, then we would expect a drop off in creative activity. And we would need a stiffening of copyright enforcement just to keep creative incentives where they were.

Fortunately, digitization has also reduced the costs of creation and distribution, along with its facilitation of piracy. And the net effect of those two offsetting forces has been to unleash a large amount of good new creative production.

Many people in the creative industries would like to see stronger enforcement of intellectual property protections. They may be right, for a variety of reasons, including just respect for property rights. But the evidence in the book shows that we don’t need a strengthening of intellectual property rights in order to maintain the creative incentives that prevailed before Napster. We are, after all, experiencing a digital renaissance.

When representatives of creative industries lobby for stricter copyright protections, are their arguments sound? How should we assess the health of their industries?

The creative industries are really good at what they do, particularly in the US. And during the digital era many creators and intermediaries have felt real pain. U.S. recorded music revenue fell  by more than half in the decade after Napster. Moreover, users in many countries have blithe disregard for intellectual property. When the industry points out these facts, they are telling the truth.

But the pain of a particular industry is not as relevant to public policy as its output. If the creative industries could no longer cover costs of creating new products and new creative activity dried up, then we would require changes in public policy to keep the consuming public happy.

When the industries go before Congress for legislative assistance to protect their revenues, however, it should be to secure a steady supply of good new products, not to protect their revenues and incomes for their own sakes.

We should assess the intellectual property regime according to whether we are seeing a steady and robust supply of new products that consumers find appealing. And that we are.

How does the old adage “Nobody knows anything” come into play in this new era of digitization?

New products in most industries typically fail. Nowhere is this more common than in the creative industries, where roughly 90 percent of new products fail to generate enough revenue to cover their costs. This “hit or miss” aspect to creative production is what makes an explosion in new products so potentially valuable.

To see this, suppose that everyone knew everything, meaning that intermediaries could accurately predict which new products would find favor with consumers. Then a cost reduction giving rise to new products would bring forth the products that were not sufficiently promising to be worth delivering before. There would be some benefit to consumers, but it would be small.

Contrast that to the real world, in which we can’t really predict which products will be good before we spend the money to test them with consumers. In that—our real—world, a tripling in the number of new products brings with it lots of unsuccessful ones as well as some really successful ones that consumers find valuable.

What are the potential pitfalls of digitization in the creative industries? What should we be wary of?

Two things come to mind. First, there is so far no evidence that the undermining of creative nurture by the traditional intermediaries— the publishers, movie studios, and record labels, for example—has undermined the quality of new products, at least in the sense of being appreciated by contemporary fans and consumers. But it will be interesting to see whether the fruits of this era are still appreciated 25, 50, or 100 years from now.

Second, the new digital economy is increasingly dominated by a small number of players. These include Google and Facebook, Apple and Amazon, and Netflix and Spotify. So far, most of what these players have done has helped to deliver the renaissance. But many of these players could become influential gatekeepers, with outsized influence on what succeeds. I don’t see any evidence of this yet, but it’s something we should be watchful about. What makes things worse is that most of these players keep their data secret, so it’s really hard to know what’s happening to the consumption of particular products. This, in turn, makes it hard to keep tabs on the health of the industries. The digital renaissance can continue only as long as a large swath of creators can continue to create, and audiences can discover the new works.

Joel Waldfogel holds the Frederick R. Kappel Chair at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. His previous books include Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays. He lives in Minneapolis.

Emma Morgan: Frankfurt Book Fair

After attending the London Book Fair in April earlier this year, I thought that I had an idea of what to expect from Frankfurt Book Fair. I definitely did not. While London attracts around 25,000 attendees, Frankfurt has over 280,000. The fair spreads out over 6 halls, some of which I didn’t even manage to see over the course of the week. After weeks of preparation and some frantic last-minute rereading of our books, the Princeton University Press Rights team left behind a very rainy and grey UK and arrived in the unseasonably sunny Frankfurt for four days of meetings.

Frankfurt Book Fair is one of the largest trade fairs in the world, and attracts people working in every sector of the publishing industry, including publishers, booksellers, printers, agents and authors. At the weekend—once the main business of the fair begins to wind down—the fair is also open to the public, and has a wide range of events, talks and attractions. I had been warned that people dressed up and came as their favourite characters during the weekend, but it was still surprising to see, in the middle of a business meeting, two pirates and a princess stroll by our stand.

frankfurt

Between the three-person rights team, PUP had over 100 meetings scheduled with publishers, agents, scouts and partners from around the world, from France, Germany and China, to Thailand, Ukraine and Finland. We arranged meetings with many of our regular partners and publishers who often license our titles, but also took some time to meet with new publishers and discuss our list with potential future partners, particularly in Scandinavia.

We were able to talk through our titles and hear more about the titles our partners are looking for, the trends they had noted at the fair and the plans they had for their lists. It was also a great opportunity to discuss with publishers, and in particular with our agents, the general state of the publishing industry in their markets. While many noted difficulties in their economic or political situations, there were many reasons for optimism, and a great deal of interest in and excitement about our list.

FrankfurtWe took our biggest-ever Rights Guide to the book fair, with 39 titles. With around 50% of our Rights Guide titles already licensed in Chinese after the International Rights trip to Beijing International Book Fair in August, we were able to highlight some new titles to the Chinese publishers we met with and to show other markets the existing interest. We received lots of good feedback about our list, especially in economics. Publishers were also very complimentary about our covers; we have increasingly received requests from publishers to use our covers in their own editions. The cover for Louise Shelley’s Dark Commerce received a lot of interest in particular. 

FrankfurtIt was also a great opportunity to share exciting new developments from PUP with our regular business partners and with new faces. Many people were interested in hearing about PUP’s new programme of audio titles, and we were able to hear about the markets in which audio is growing and in which it is still only a small portion of the industry. This year, when Frankfurt launched their first dedicated audiobook conference, it was great to hear about people’s excitement for audio in general and PUP’s growing list in particular.

We’ve returned now to full inboxes and lots of following up to do, but it won’t be long until the Rights team will be setting off for the next Book Fair in Guadalajara!

“The Woodstock of the Mind” Celebrates 30 Years

By Katie Lewis

Nestled among lush-green rolling hills, just on the Welsh side of the Anglo-Welsh border, lies the beautiful sleepy town of Hay-on-Wye (or Y Gelli, to use its Welsh name). With over two dozen bookshops to serve fewer than 2000 permanent residents, Hay has long been known as “the town of books”, and by the late 1970s, became the world’s first official Book Town. A great venue, then, for Britain’s biggest and most famous literary festival. Founded around a kitchen table in 1987, Hay Festival has grown from an exciting idea to a world-class event, drawing writers, actors, artists, politicians, philosophers, scientists, comedians, musicians and crowds numbering 250,000 people, from across the globe. Called “the Woodstock of the mind” by Bill Clinton when he spoke at Hay in 2001, Hay Festival has become a highlight of the literary calendar for many; indeed, the late Tony Benn said that “in my mind it’s replaced Christmas”.

Hay Festival 2017 gets underway. Photo by Mogan Selvakannu

Hay Festival always feels special, but this year there was a buzz in the air, as Hay celebrated its 30th year with a superb line-up of speakers. These included: Bernie Sanders, Eddie Izzard, Jaqueline Wilson, Nick Clegg, Helen Fielding, Victoria Hislop, Jeremy Paxman, Stephen Fry, Peter Singer, Tom Daley, Graham Norton, Simon Schama, Nadya Tolokno (of Pussy Riot), Robert Winston, Colm Tóibín, Tom Hollander, Juliet Stevenson, Tony Robinson, Gillian Tett, Tracey Emin, Martin Rees, Harriet Harman, Tracy Chevalier, Rowan Williams, Paul Cartledge, Neil Gaiman, Richard E. Grant, Germaine Greer, Michael Parkinson, Will Young, Jeremy Bowen, George Monbiot, Will Self, A. C. Grayling, Jim Al-Khalili, Ian Rankin, Michael Sheen, Simon Armitage, John Simpson, Bill Bailey, and many more.

Princeton University Press is proud to be part of Hay Festival each year, and this year we had a wonderful group of authors speaking on a fascinating range of subjects:

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and author of The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, spoke about one of the great paradoxes of scientific research: the search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. Dijkgraaf’s charisma and humour shone through as he made his large audience laugh with a video of the world’s first robot and reminded us that “without Einstein’s theory, your GPS would be 7 miles out. So, I like to say that without Einstein, we would all be lost”. Dijkgraaf also recorded a special episode of BBC Radio 4’s programme “Inside Science” in front of a live audience at Hay. You can listen again here.

Speaking on a subject of macabre topicality, Gilles Kepel, author of Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West, discussed the topic of his book in relation to Europe as a whole, and the events in Manchester on 22nd May in particular.

Kevin Laland, biologist and author of Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind gave a fascinating talk highlighting the uniqueness of the human species, and what sets us apart from other animals. He argued that it was the complexity and diversity of human culture that has caused human beings to evolve, and that the success of the human species is down to a ‘whirlpool’ of evolutionary feedback and cultural processes. In other words, human beings are creatures of their own making.

Kevin N. Laland. Photo by Sam J. Peat

Alexander Todorov, author of Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions enthralled his audience of almost 2000 people with his digitally constructed images of faces showing characteristics that the human brain (often incorrectly) perceives to denote different personality traits upon first meeting. Did you know that our brains make judgements about a person’s trustworthiness, competence, dominance and other traits within 1/10th of a second? Definitely food for thought…

Roger Penrose, renowned physicist and author of Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe did an ‘In Conversation’ event with Marcus du Sautoy. Marcus told us all that Roger was one of his childhood heroes and remembered having heard him lecture in his school days. Their conversation ranged across string theory, dark matter, black holes and sparked some excellent questions from the audience.

Roger Penrose. Photo by Mogan Selvakannu

Finally, Lawrence Bee, author of Britain’s Spiders: A Field Guide, delighted arachnophiles of all ages in his talk on how to recognise some of the 670 species of spiders living in your British back garden. He also brought some live spiders with him on stage, which the audience were able to get a closer look at during his book signing!

Lawrence Bee. Photo by Liam Webb

Hay Festival really is the thinking person’s paradise. Some years, the grass quads swarm with sunbathing readers or people dozing in deck chairs between talks; some years, wellington boots become not just a festival fashion item, but a necessity. But, rain or shine, Hay Festival has a certain magic that’s hard to describe. It’s a bit like the thrill of walking into a great bookshop and finding the authors of a whole host of wonderful books inside, waiting to welcome you and introduce you to the characters and ideas within their pages.

Clips and full talks from Hay Festival 2017 can be viewed on the BBC’s Hay Festival webpage.

Katie Lewis has been a publicist at Princeton University Press’s European office, near Oxford, since 2009.

Join us for TigerTalks in the City: Breakthrough Books

On Thursday, May 18, join @Princeton Entrepreneurship Council for TigerTalks in the City: “Breakthrough Books.” Faculty members Sir Angus Deaton, Dalton Conley, Nancy Malkiel and Alexander Todorov will discuss their recent Princeton University Press books.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by a networking reception with the authors and Princeton students and alumni. Register here today!

PUP’s International Rights Director: A booth of one’s own

by Kimberly Williams

I’m taking a moment out of my hectic post-London Book Fair schedule to reflect on what was our busiest ever LBF, at least from an international rights perspective. Not only did we hold a record number of meetings with our publishing partners—among them agents, scouts, and rights managers and editors from international publishing houses—but we had a strong showing from our international colleagues, perhaps most notably our new colleague in China, Lingxi Li and our recently appointed Director for Global Development, Brigitta van Rheinberg. We also found time to connect with our counterparts in international rights, in meetings and at events hosted by the Independent Publishers Guild.

LBF

London Book Fair this time was a little bit special for me. For the first time (for me at least), we hosted our meetings at PUP’s booth, surrounded by our books and posters, and most importantly by our colleagues in sales, publicity, and editorial. Historically we’ve always held our meetings in the International Rights Centre, which was always a little too reminiscent of an examination hall in my mind. But at the booth this year there was a real buzz and our stand was constantly occupied by publishers doing what we do best—getting really rather excited about our books. Our upcoming fall 2017 list was warmly received and we very much hope that we’ll be announcing some new translation deals soon.

In international rights, it’s easy to crunch the numbers and report that we held 65 meetings across three days, that we met people from dozens of countries, and that we will be making literally hundreds of submissions of our books (some of which don’t even exist yet in print or digital format). But in all of that it’s important to remember that what underpins our work is a genuine and shared love of academic publishing, and of our books and authors. The role of the international rights director, in a nutshell, is to communicate that enthusiasm to the right publisher at the right moment.

With all of that in mind, we completely overhauled our rights guide specifically for London Book Fair this year. We wanted to put the author front and centre and think about the international reach of our authors and their scholarship. We worked with colleagues in design, editorial, copywriting, production, and marketing to think about how our rights guide might be used, and by whom. We found through our research that now more than ever it is crucial to communicate information efficiently, and that design is crucial, especially when your audience is not always made up of native speakers.

We’ve somehow dispensed with 150 print copies of our rights guide, so we hope we have hit the mark.

If you’re interested in hearing more from our rights team, you can follow us on twitter at @PUP_Rights.

 

Princeton University Press books for giving

Browse below for some of our favorite titles for gifting of the season.

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael Strauss, and Richard Gott

“Reading through is akin to receiving a private museum tour from an expert scientist. . . . As Tyson, Strauss, and Gott explain the cutting-edge physics of multiverses, superstring theory, M-theory, and the benefits of colonizing space, even seasoned science readers will learn something new.”
Publishers Weekly

Universe
World War I and American Art
Robert Cozzolino, Anne Classen Knutson, and David M. Lubin

“This is the first major book to examine the repercussions of the Great War on American art. Featuring first-rate scholarship in accessible prose, the book shows how this traumatic conflict had a profound effect on American visual culture, yielding not just memorable propaganda posters, but also art that subtly acknowledged the war.”
—Cécile Whiting, author of Pop L.A.: Art and the City in the 1960s

WWI
Makers of Jewish Modernity: Thinkers, Artists, Leaders, and the World They Made
Jacques Picard, Jacques Revel, Michael P. Steinberg & Idith Zertal

“The editors of [Makers of Jewish Modernity] exceed their stated goal of showing how various Jewish public figures ‘transformed the 20th century,’ through 43 profiles of subjects both expected . . . and surprising. . . . The entries, which assume no prior knowledge, convey a great deal of information and cogent analysis in a short space.”
Publishers Weekly

Jewish
Kafka: The Early Years
Reiner Stach
Translated by Shelley Frisch

Praise for the previous volumes: “This is one of the great literary biographies, to be set up there with, or perhaps placed on an even higher shelf than, Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce, George Painter’s Marcel Proust, and Leon Edel’s Henry James. . . . [A]n eerily immediate portrait of one of literature’s most enduring and enigmatic masters.”
—John Banville, New York Review of Books

Kafka

The Grammar of Ornament : A Visual Reference of Form and Colour in Architecture and the Decorative Arts
Owen Jones

“The illustrations are delightful . . . it is easy to pick a page at random and find a bit of tasty decorative information to digest.”
—Ted Loos, Introspective Magazine

Jones
Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine
Alexander Nemerov

“[A] fascinating exploration of Hine’s work.”
—Elizabeth Roberts, Black & White Photography

Soulmaker

Living on Paper: Letters of Iris Murdoch 1934-1995
Iris Murdoch
Edited by Avril Horner and Anne Rowe

“Murdoch belonged to a generation and class for whom the handwritten letter was as necessary as breathing. . . . Although Murdoch destroyed many of her letters and journals and may well have instructed her correspondents to do the same, a mountain survives. The selection Horner and Rowe have made offers insight into many corners of her life and work.”
—John Sutherland, New York Times Book Review

Murdoch

Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies
Sara Lewis

“Lewis takes readers into the realm of fireflies. . . . An excellent option for insect fans and anyone curious about the lightning bugs in their yards.”
Library Journal, starred review

Lewis
How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Translated by Philip Freeman

“[A] covetable little translation.”
—Karen Shook, Times Higher Education

Old

How to Win an Argument: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Edited by James M. May

“Presented with magisterial expertise, this book introduces the core principles of public speaking in a nutshell. James May’s writing is clear and charming.”
—Robert N. Gaines, The University of Alabama

Argument

Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting
Thomas D. Seeley

“Anyone deeply interested in natural history will ignore this mad little volume at their peril.”
—Simon Ings, New Scientist

Seeley
The Brooklyn Nobody Knows: An Urban Walking Guide
William B. Helmreich

“Even Brooklyn residents will learn something new in this inclusive book, the first of five planned New York City walking guides. . . . Crisp pictures, such as those of Mrs. Maxwell’s Bakery—New York’s largest party cake store—safety tips, and an impressive bibliography are welcome additions to an appealing work for locals, tourists, and urban explorers.”
Library Journal

Brooklyn

A Savage War
Williamson Murray and Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh

“[An] outstanding account of the American Civil War. . . . This expertly
written narrative will draw in anyone with an interest in the Civil War
at any knowledge level.”
Library Journal, starred review

Savage

The Joy of SET: The Many Mathematical Dimensions of a Seemingly Simple Card Game
Liz McMahon, Gary Gordon, Hannah Gordon, and Rebecca Gordon

“Humorous and conversational, this book is a pleasure to read.”
—Arthur Benjamin, author of The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why

SET

Announcing our Big Holiday Book Sale

Happy Holidays from Princeton University Press! Our big holiday sale is now live, just in time for Black Friday savings. Use code HOLLY40 to receive 40% off select print titles.

sale_400x266orangesnowflake2

 

Peter Dougherty & Al Bertrand: On Being Einstein’s Publisher

by Peter Dougherty and Al Bertrand

So many people today—and even professional scientists—seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. (Albert Einstein to Robert A Thornton, 7 December 1944, EA 61-574)

For all of the scholarly influences that have defined Princeton University Press over its 111-year history, no single personality has shaped the Press’s identity as powerfully, both directly and indirectly, as Albert Einstein. The 2015 centenary of the publication of Einstein’s “Theory of General Relativity” as well as the affirmation this past February and again in June of the discovery of gravitational waves has encouraged us to reflect on this legacy and how it has informed our identity as a publisher.

The bright light cast by Einstein the scientist and by Einstein the humanist has shaped Princeton University Press in profound and far-reaching ways. It expresses itself in the Press’s standard of scholarly excellence, its emphasis on the breadth and connectedness of liberal learning across all fields, and in our mission of framing scholarly arguments to shape contemporary knowledge. All the while, Einstein’s role as a citizen of the world inspires our vision to be a truly global university press.

PUBLISHING EINSTEIN: A BRIEF HISTORY

Albert Einstein is not only Princeton University Press’s most illustrious author; he was our first best-selling author. Following his public lectures in Princeton in 1921, the Press—itself less than 20 years old at the time—published the text of those lectures, titled “The Meaning of Relativity”, in 1922. Publication followed the agitated exhortation of the Press’s then-manager, Frank Tomlinson, urging Professor Einstein to get his manuscript finished. Tomlinson wrote:

My dear Professor Einstein—

On July 6 I wrote you inquiring when we might expect to receive the manuscript of your lectures. I have had no reply to this letter. A number of people have been inquiring when the book will be ready, and we are considerably alarmed at the long delay in the receipt of your manuscript, which we were led to believe would be in our hands within a month after the lectures were delivered. The importance of the book will undoubtedly be seriously affected unless we are able to publish it within a reasonable time and I strongly urge upon you the necessity of sending us the copy at your earliest convenience. I should appreciate also the favor of a reply from you stating when we may expect to receive it.

the meaning of relativity jacketMr. Tomlinson’s letter marks something of a high point in the history of publishers’ anxiety, but far from failing, The Meaning of Relativity was a hit. It would go on to numerous successive editions, and remains very much alive today as both a print and digital book, as well as in numerous translated editions.

For all its glorious publishing history, The Meaning of Relativity can be thought of as a mere appetizer to the bounteous publishing banquet embodied in THE COLLECTED PAPERS OF ALBERT EINSTEIN, surely PUP’s most ambitious continuing publication and one of the most important editorial projects in all of scholarly publishing.

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein

Authorized by the Einstein Estate and the PUP Board of Trustees in 1970, and supported by a generous grant from the late Harold W. McGraw, Jr., chairman of the McGraw-Hill Book Company, THE EINSTEIN PAPERS, as it evolves, is providing the first complete and authoritative account of a written legacy that ranges from Einstein’s work on the special and general theories of relativity and the origins of quantum theory, to expressions of his profound concern with civil liberties, education, Zionism, pacifism, and disarmament.

einstein old letterAn old saying has it that “good things come to those to wait,” words that ring resoundingly true regarding the EINSTEIN PAPERS. Having survived multiple obstacles in the long journey from its inception through the publication of its first volume in 1987, the Einstein Papers Project hit its stride in 2000 when Princeton University Press engaged Professor Diana Buchwald as its sixth editor, and moved the Project to Pasadena with the generous support of its new host institution, the California Institute of Technology.

Since then, Professor Buchwald and her Caltech-based editorial team, along with their international network of scholarly editors, have produced successive documentary and English translation volumes at the rate of one every eighteen months. To give you an idea of just how impressive a pace this is, the Galileo papers are still a work in progress, nearly four centuries after his death.

The EINSTEIN PAPERS, having reached and documented Einstein’s writings up to 1925, has fundamentally altered our understanding of the history of physics and of the development of general relativity, for example by destroying the myth of Einstein as a lone genius and revealing the extent to which this man, with his great gift for friendship and collegiality, was embedded in a network of extraordinary scientists in Zurich, Prague, and Berlin.

Along with the EINSTEIN PAPERS, the Press has grown a lively publishing program of books drawn from his work and about Einstein. Satellite projects include The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, as well as volumes on Einstein’s politics, his love letters, and the “miraculous year” of 1905.

Last year the Press published two new books drawn from Einstein’s writings, The Road to Relativity, and the 100th anniversary edition of Relativity: The Special and General Theory, both volumes edited by Jürgen Renn of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and Hanoch Gutfreund of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.   These volumes celebrate the centenary of Einstein’s publication of the theory of general relativity in November 1915.

In this same centenary year, PUP published several other Einstein titles, including:

— Volume 14 of the Collected Papers, The Berlin Years, 1923-1925.

An Einstein Encyclopedia, edited by Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, and Robert Schulman;

Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity, by Andrew Robinson

Especially notable, in January 2015 the Press released THE DIGITAL EDITION OF THE COLLECTED PAPERS OF ALBERT EINSTEIN, a publishing event that has attracted extraordinary worldwide attention, scientific as well as public. This online edition is freely available to readers and researchers around the world, and represents the historic collaboration between the Press and its partners, the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech and the Albert Einstein Archive in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Moreover, works by and about Einstein sit at the crossroads of two major components of the Princeton list: our science publishing program which comprises a host of fields from physics through mathematics, biology, earth science, computer science, and natural history, and our history of science program which connects PUP’s Einstein output to our humanities publishing, helping to bridge the intellectual gap between two major dimensions of our list.

Einstein’s dual legacy at Princeton University Press thus serves to bookend the conversation defined by the Press’s unusually wide-ranging array of works across and throughout the arts and sciences, from mathematics to poetry. C.P. Snow famously described the sciences and the humanities as “two cultures.” Einstein’s legacy informs our effort as a publisher to create an ongoing correspondence between those two cultures in the form of books, which uniquely serve to synthesize, connect, and nurture cross-disciplinary discourse.

EINSTEIN’S LARGER PUBLISHING INFLUENCE

Much as the living legacy of the EINSTEIN PAPERS and its related publications means to Princeton University Press as a publisher, it holds a broader meaning for us both as editors and as leaders of the institution with which we’ve long been affiliated.

Like most of our colleagues, we arrived at the Press as editors previously employed by other publishers, and having little professional interest in physics. Each of us specialized in different editorial fields, economics and classics, respectively.

Our initial disposition towards the field of physics, while full of awe, was perhaps best summed up by Woody Allen when he said: “I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”  

But we soon discovered, as newcomers to PUP inevitably do, that the Princeton publishing legacy of Albert Einstein carried with it a set of implications beyond his specific scientific bounty that would help to shape our publishing activity, as well as that of our colleagues. We see the Einstein legacy operating in three distinct ways on PUP’s culture:

First, it reinforces the centrality of excellence as a standard: simply put, we strive to publish the core scholarly books by leading authors, senior as well as first-time. Einstein’s legacy stands as a giant-sized symbol of excellence, an invisible but constant reminder that our challenge as publishers at Princeton is not merely to be good, but to be great. As we seek greatness by publishing those books that help to define and unite the frontiers of modern scholarship, and connect our authors’ ideas with minds everywhere, we are upholding a standard embodied in the work of Albert Einstein.

The second implication of the bounty Albert Einstein is a commitment to seeing liberal knowledge defined broadly, encompassing its scientific articulation as well as its expression in the humanities and social sciences. PUP purposefully publishes an unusually wide portfolio of subject areas, encompassing not only standard university press fields such as literary criticism, art history, politics, sociology, and philosophy, but a full complement of technical fields, including biology, physics, neuroscience, mathematics, economics, and computer science. A rival publisher once half-jokingly described PUP as “the empirical knowledge capital of the world.” She was referring to our capacious cultivation of scientific and humanistic publishing, an ambitious menu for a publisher producing only around 250 books a year, but one we think gives the Press its distinctive identity.

It is no coincidence that Albert Einstein, PUP’s most celebrated author, cast his influence across many of these fields both as a scientist and as a humanist, engaged fully in the life of the mind and of the world. His legacy thus inspires us to concentrate our editorial energies on building a list that focuses on knowledge in its broadest and deepest sense—that puts into play the sometimes contentious, and even seemingly incongruous, methodologies of science and the humanities and articulates a broad yet rigorous, intellectual vision, elevating knowledge for its own sake, even as the issues change from decade to decade.

A third implication appears in Einstein’s challenge to us to be a great global publisher. Einstein, a self-professed “citizen of the world” was in many ways the first global citizen, a scholar whose scientific achievement and fame played out on a truly global scale in an age of parochial and often violent nationalist thinking.

Einstein’s cosmopolitanism has inspired the Press to pursue a path of becoming a truly global university Press. To do this, PUP has built lists in fields that are cosmopolitan in their readership, opened offices in Europe and China, expanded its author and reviewer base all over the world, and has licensed its content for translation in many languages. As we go forward, we intend to continue to build a network that allows us to connect many local publishing and academic cultures with the global scholarly conversation. This vision of the Press’s future echoes Einstein’s call for a science that transcends national boundaries.

THE FUTURE

It has been nearly a century since publication of The Meaning of Relativity and half that since the original agreement for the EINSTEIN PAPERS was authorized. We can only imagine that the originators of the latter project would be proud of what our collective effort has produced, grateful to the principals for the job they have done in bringing the PAPERS to their current status, and maybe above all, awed by the global exposure the PAPERS have achieved in their print and now digital formats.

As we continue our work with our colleagues at Caltech and the Hebrew University to extend the EINSTEIN PAPERS into the future, we are reminded of the significance of the great scientist’s legacy, especially as it bears on our identity as a global publisher, framing the pursuit of knowledge imaginatively across the arts and sciences.

The eminent Italian publisher Roberto Calasso, in his recent book, The Art of the Publisher, encourages readers to imagine a publishing house as,

“a single text formed not just by the totality of books that have been published there, but also by its other constituent elements, such as the front covers, cover flaps, publicity, the quantity of copies printed and sold, or the different editions in which the same text has been presented. Imagine a publishing house in this way and you will find yourself immersed in a very strange landscape, something that you might regard as a literary work in itself, belonging to a genre all its own.”

Now, at a time when the very definition of publishing is being undermined by technological and economic forces, it is striking to see each publisher as a “literary work unto itself.” So it is with Princeton University Press. In so far as PUP can claim a list having a diversified but well-integrated publishing vision, one that constantly strives for excellence and that stresses the forest for the trees, it is inescapably about the spirit and substance reflected in the legacy of Albert Einstein, and it is inseparable from it.

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Peter J. Dougherty is Director of Princeton University Press. This essay is based in part on comments he delivered at the Space-Time Theories conference at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January, 2015. Al Bertrand is Associate Publishing Director of Princeton University Press and Executive Editor of the Press’s history of science publishing program, including Einstein-related publications.

McGovern scholar Thomas Knock on classic presidential reads

election blog banner logoThomas Knock is the author of The Rise of a Prairie Statesman: The Life and Times of George McGovern, the first volume of the first major biography of the 1972 presidential candidate and eloquent critic of the Vietnam War. Called “the standard bearer of all future biographies” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Knock’s reconsideration of the politician is a perfect pick for election season. Recently we asked Knock what classic books on presidents we would find in his own library.

By Thomas Knock

I’m happy to recommend five books about major presidents and the politics of their times— from the early 20th century to the early 21st century—all classics in their field and favorites of mine. My list of personal favorites encompasses several historically great presidents or otherwise quite notable ones—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton— who still have something to say to us today.

1.  John Milton Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt (Harvard, 1983).  This is a dual biography of two progressive presidents—one a Republican, one a Democrat—and the two most literate chief executives of the 20th century.  Together TR and Wilson recreated the modern presidency and, in their respective programs (the New Nationalism and the New Freedom) they laid the foundations for Big Government as we have come to know it today.  Cooper has definite and persuasive reveries about who is the Warrior and who is the Priest.

2.  Robert McElvaine, The Great Depression and the New Deal (Times Books, 1993).  A sweeping account of the crisis of the 1930s that gives both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt their due and even stresses a significant element of continuity between the policies of the two antagonists.  In this, while providing a most lucid interpretation of New Deal politics and culture, one also can see a parallel between Hoover and FDR, on the one hand, and George W. Bush and Barack Obama, on the other, as the latter pair struggled to contain the gathering disaster of 2008-09.

3.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and his America (St. Martin’s, 1976, 1991).  This remains one of the two or three best, and most moving, books ever written about Lyndon Johnson, who I myself would describe as half a great president.  Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this work are the implications of a single remark of Johnson’s to Goodwin:  that he believed when he entered office that he had only 18 months or so to get done whatever it was he was going to accomplish.  And that—the concept of the 18-Month Presidency, so to speak—is something that too many presidents have never grasped.

4.  Sidney Blumenthal, Pledging Allegiance, The Last Campaign of the Cold War (Harper/Collins, 1990).  This study offers a trove of insights into American politics at the end of the Cold War.  Its most significant achievement is to establish Reagan and Gorbachev as an irreducible team–that the advent of each was fundamental to the other’s well being if either was to have the salutary legacy that they are both credited with today.  Along with the entire cast of candidates in the 1988 knock-down, the volume also addresses the matter of the presidential sex scandal, something new in the politics of the ensuing post-Cold War era, which fatally ensnared the formidable Gary Hart, a former McGovern protege.

5.  David Maraniss, First in His Class, A biography of Bill Clinton (Simon and Schuster, 1995).  An essential work about the first post-Cold War president, this biography also includes substantial instructive coverage of the early life of Hillary Rodham.  The thrust is the striving of the first Boomer to enter the White House, who left Arkansas to be schooled at Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale Law; lived the politics of the Sixties and Vietnam and earnestly embraced McGovern’s campaign (learning chastening lessons along the way); and then returned to Arkansas as his means to power.  From a 2016 perspective, one can fully appreciate his enormous capacities while apprehending the bridge the two Clintons constitute between past, present and future.

KnockThomas J. Knock is Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of the prize-winning To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order and the coauthor of The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century (both Princeton). He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Dynamic Ecology is searching for the best books in the field

Do you think Princeton University Press publishes some of the best books on ecology? You’re in good company! The Dynamic Ecology blog is hosting a vote to find those books that appeal to ecologists and students the most and they’ve included thirteen PUP books in the mix. Vote for up to three of your favorites.

Ecology

Ecological Communities
Donald R. Strong, Jr., Daniel Simberloff, Lawrence G. Abele, & Anne B. Thistle

Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement
Anne E. Magurran

Resource Competition and Community Structure
David Tilman

The Ecological Detective
Ray Hilborn & Marc Mangel

Geographical Ecology
Robert H. MacArthur

The Theory of Sex Allocation
Eric L. Charnov

Ecological Models and Data in R
Benjamin M. Bolker

Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems
Robert M. May

Spatial Ecology
David Tilman & Peter Kareiva

Ecological Stoichiometry
Robert W. Sterner & James J. Elser

Foraging Theory
David W. Stephens & John R. Krebs

The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography
Stephen P. Hubbell

The Theory of Island Biogeography
Robert H. MacArthur & Edward O. Wilson

Ecology

#NewBooks from Princeton University Press

Books released spanning the weeks of May 26th and June 1st, 2015.

The past two weeks have been full of exciting new releases for Princeton University Press. Included is Stephen Macedo’s Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage, which  takes an in-depth look at the convention of marriage in the modern age. Einstein fans will rejoice as a 100th anniversary edition of Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and the General Theory is released. This new edition includes special features such as an authoritative English translation of the text, covers from selected early editions, and many more exciting extras. As history shows, the library is something that will never go out of style.  Alice Crawford’s The Meaning of the Library: A Cultural History is full of illustrations and rich commentary, highlighting the significance of the library throughout history as well as evaluating its importance in the 21st century.

New in Hardcover

 j10434  j10453
 j10442  j10494
 j10520 j10522

New in Paperback

 j10465  j10485
 j9961  j10008
 j9899  j8826
 j9573  j9130
 j7859  j9619
 j9740  j8737
 j7427  j8911
 j9831  j9876
 j7640  j10012
 j9902  j9690
 j9877  j8246
 j10030  j9875
j9478

Writers on Writers Giveaway

writersonwriters

We have a new giveaway! Enter for a chance to win the complete set of Writers on Writers, a series of brief, personal books by contemporary writers about an author, past or present, who has inspired or influenced them in some way.

Each book gives the reader a window into both the life and work of the chosen author and the mind of the writer. In On Elizabeth Bishop, Colm Tóibín highlights the parallels between his life and that of his subject, particularly in their experience of loss and exile. He traces her footsteps to Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil and shows the reader how her influence helped to shape him as a novelist. Compared to Tóibín’s measured, deeply personal account, Alexander McCall Smith’s contribution, What W.H. Auden Can Do For You, is a playful, charming take on the manifold ways that Auden has been a guiding force in his life. McCall Smith calls him one of the best guides on how to live. He shows us how he has been inspired by Auden and how each of us can benefit from his work.

One of the most famous nineteenth-century novelists, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has provided inspiration to many. On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Pulitzer-prize winning critic Michael Dirda is not only an engaging introduction to the author and his work, it is a rare glimpse into the best-known of all Sherlockian groups, the Baker Street Irregulars, of which Dirda is a member. Another famous nineteenth-century author, Walter Whitman, is the subject of Pulitzer-prize winning poet C.K. Williams. On Whitman explores the reasons why Leaves of Grass continues to inspire. Williams shows what Whitman had in common with other poets of his time and how his influence continues to be felt today.

Finally, renowned essayist Phillip Lopate describes Sontag as one of the “foremost interpreters of…our recent contemporary moment” in Notes on Sontag. While admiring her free-thinking originality, Lopate is critical of her tendency toward exaggeration, feeling that it undermines her common sense. Lopate provides a clever and enjoyable reflection on his chosen writer through a series of essays, a form used by Sontag herself.

Writers on Writers is necessary reading for anyone interested in the creative process and the often-complex relationship between writers. To enter for a chance to win the complete series, please follow the directions in the RaffleCopter box below. Winners will be selected on or around May 19, 2015.

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