Archive for the ‘Books and publishing’ Category

A few words about N.K. Jemisin

Friday, August 11th, 2023

I started reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon in 2019. I gave up part way in–while very well written, it was just more than I could cope with. Admittedly, at my advanced age, I’m not usually much for massive world-building epics (I’ve not read any of the Song of Fire and Ice books or seen any of The Game of Thrones, and am exceedingly unlikely to change that status).

But Jemisin won three Hugos in a row for the novels in her second trilogy. That’s never happened. I needed to take another look, without prepping for a deep dive. Last time I was at the library. I spotted How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?–a collection of Jemisin’s shorter fiction.

Well now.

Brilliant, almost always very satisfying, occasionally challenging (frequently both), and always superbly written.

Still not sure whether I’m up to Jemisin’s longer works. I’ll try the first book in one of her trilogies. Not sure whether it will suit me–but of this I am now sure: If it doesn’t, it’s on me: she pretty clearly deserves all the awards she’s won.

Diamond OA 2023 is now available

Monday, June 26th, 2023

Diamond OA 2023: The World of No-Fee OA Publishing is now available as an $8 trade paperback or a free PDF ebook.

This new study is based on the no-fee portion of the dataset for Gold Open Access 2017-2022 [GOA8]. A little tentative original added research looks at apparent funding/sponsorship sources for no-fee journals that are not published by universities, societies or government. (Spoiler alert: in about 98% of the cases, that is, those published by traditional and open access publishers, funding appears to be from either universities and academia or from societies and government.)

This book offers overviews and tables by subject and size of journals, but most of the book is “the world”–regional profiles with notes on countries with one to nine diamond journals, and 75 profiles of countries with ten or more such journals.

Worth doing?

If you find this worthwhile, publicize it to others: the download statistics (and,  of course, the paperback sales figures if there are any) will weigh heavily on the decision whether to do this optional extra if there’s another GOA cycle next year.

Direct comments–whether it’s useful, what could be done better (if I have the knowledge, resources and time), etc–are also welcome.

In the next few days, I’ll be asking a couple of questions relating specifically to the next cycle, one about subject assignments and one about support/funding categories.

Meantime, it’s here. (And it appears that seven people figured out the semi-blind hint in a Mastodon posting.) Read it. Publicize it if it’s worthwhile. Hey, maybe even buy the paperback. (Full disclosure: I will receive $0.01 for each print book sold, slightly more for some of the non-USD currencies accepts, up to about $0.20 for copies sold in Euros. )

Raising Steam

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

I just finished reading this–not for the first time, but for the first time in years.

It’s by Sir Terry Pratchett, if you didn’t recognize the title. And it’s the last Discworld book. I say that “last” with some assurance because Pratchett is no longer with us and, although he apparently left lots of ideas for more books in the series, it does not appear that his estate has any plans to commission or allow such books. Probably just as well…

I’ve read essentially all Discworld books–“essentially” being a tricky word, since I never purchased The Last Hero (a graphic novel) or any of the many auxiliary books. I own nearly all of them–for some reason, I never purchased The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, but I’ve read it.

I’ve read most of them twice–beginning a chronological read-through around five years ago, and filling in the five wonderful Tiffany Aching YA books I missed the first time around. Reading them more slowly, I liked them even better. Reading tastes are very much individual, and this individual loves Pratchett’s work. (The only two of “his” fiction books I wasn’t as fond of were the final two “The Long…” collaborations, which seemed to have less and less of Pratchett in them. Yes, of course I loved Good Omens, his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, and look forward to the second season of the Prime adaptation and re-watching the first.

Anyway, just a note at the end of the read–never reading two of the books one after another, never hurrying through them. Now what?

Now I’ve stacked the books in chronological order, and after I finish the current trio of library books, I’ll read The Colour of Magic for the third time (even if Harper left the “u” out of the title for the US paperback edition I own, it will always be The Colour of Magic).

Then I just need to stick around to complete the third read, say another five to eight years.

There will be a GOA6

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Thanks to SPARC’s continuing support, there will be a Gold Open Access 2015-2020: Articles in Journals appearing sometime in the summer of 2021 (barring health or other disasters).

The study will follow the same pattern as GOA5. I’ll download DOAJ metadata in late December 2020 to the first match and consistency checking, and will determine currency exchange rates to be used for the project (as with this year, they’ll be the median 2020 rate where that’s available, the rate on the December date I check them otherwise–and they’ll be on a tab in the freely-available spreadsheet). Then I’ll download data again shortly after midnight (GMT) on January 1, 2021, and process changes.

I currently plan two changes–neither major. First, I’m finishing the process of getting rid of “Miscellaneous” as a publisher category. (It accounted for considerably less than 1% of articles in GOA5.) Any publishers not categorized as university/college, society/government, or traditional publisher, will be marked as Open Access.

Second, I sense that a few subject-assignment errors crept in some years ago (due to quirks in Excel at the time). I’ve already rechecked subject assignments against the DOAJ-supplied subject information for all journals in GOA5, changing a few dozen in the process, and will complete that process in January. (The changes would only be significant in subject breakdowns for a few countries.)

Other than those changes, I’ll aim for consistency, and add a sixth row to graphs in a Six-Year Comparisons chapter. Once again, the data will be freely available at Figshare (or some other repository), the report will be available as a free PDF or a cost-of-publication color trade paperback, and there will be a Country of Publication report.

I won’t even begin to guess dates or volume. I’d love to see it emerge in July 2021, but won’t predict that. I’d love to see at least 15,000 fully-analyzed journals–and that seems fairly plausible. I’d guess there will be more than 900,000 2020 articles, but would be loath to project a million. We shall see.

Gold Open Access by Country 2014-2019 available

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Gold Open Access by Country 2014-2019 is now available as a free PDF ebook or nominally priced trade paperback.

How nominally priced? The book costs $7. I get $0.02 of that. (There’s a 15% discount through Friday, July 17,2020: discount code PUBLISH15 — and Lulu frequently does offer such discounts.)

As always, links are available at the project page,

GOAJ3: Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017

Monday, May 28th, 2018

I’m delighted to announce that GOAJ3: Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017 is now available–as a $5 trade paperback, a free PDF download (identical to the interior of the paperback, with a cover page added), and as a dataset on Figshare.

The project is sponsored by SPARC. The book, ebook and dataset are all covered by Creative Commons BY 4.0 licenses: any reuse is legal as long as attribution is provided. (You can redistribute, but if you send links instead, I can count uses, which can help determine whether to do another year.)

As always, you’ll find links at

Coming soon:

Expect a very different Countries version in a week or two, and a subject supplement some time this summer.

Last year in books read

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Given the sheer amount of research I did in 2016–Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 and Gray OA 2012-2016–it’s a miracle I managed to get through any books at all. But I did.

As usual, my goal was 39 books: three books for each 4-week library circulation period. As usual, I did better than that, although nowhere near as well as in 2015: Looks like I started 49 books and finished 45 of them. Abandoned, for various reasons: Reinhart & Rogoff: This Time is Different; Graydon Carter: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells; Peter Carey: Amnesia.

Books I thoroughly enjoyed:

The Days of Anna Madrigal Armistead Maupin
When Christ and the Saints Slept Sharon Kay Penman
The Truth According to Us Annie Barrows
Strip Tease Carl Hiaasen
School Days Robert B. Parker
Sixkill Robert B. Parker
Walking Shadow Robert B. Parker
Ring of Fire III Eric Flint
1635: A Parcel of Rogues Erik Flint &c.
1636: The Viennese Waltz Erik Flint &c.

Books I enjoyed a lot but which weren’t quite as good:

Saint Mazie Jami Attenberg
Maybe the Moon Armistead Maupin
The Devil’s Bones Jefferson Bass
I Don’t Know How She Does It Allison Pearson
All Our Yesterdays Robert B. Parker
Lucky You Carl Hiaasen
Time and Chance Sharon Kay Penman
Sick Puppy Carl Hiaasen
Thin Air Robert B. Parker
Trouble in Paradise Robert B. Parker
Small Vices Robert B. Parker
Playmafes Robert B. Parker
Hard Drive James Wallace & Jim Erickson
Service Included Phoebe Damrosch
1635: The Dreeson Incident Erik Flint &c.
Ring of Fire II Eric Flint
1635: The Papal Stakes Erik Flint &c.
1636: The Saxon Uprising Eric Flint
1636: The Kremlin Games Erik Flint & c.

Those are the “A” and “A-” grades; another nine were also enjoyable but B+ at best.

Of course, I also wrote three books, but that’s another story.

[If you looked at this and saw two identical tables: brief problem…]

The Man Time Forgot: a semi-contrarian semi-review

Friday, July 8th, 2016

The book: Isaiah Wilner, The Man Time Forgot, HarperCollins, 2006.

I read most books long after they’re published, borrowing them from Livermore Public Library after (usually) browsing the shelves. That was the case this time;  I find both business history and media/publishing interesting, so this was a natural.

It’s well-researched and fairly well written. It’s about Briton Hadden and Henry Luce–and the title of the book pretty much clarifies who’s supposed to be the wronged hero. (Well, that and a caricature of Hadden on the cover).

The story is supposed to be about how Hadden created Time Magazine and the whole Timespeak approach–and how Luce did Hadden wrong after Hadden’s early death. And if you pay attention primarily to pages 216-260, and read the previous chapters with one set of assumptions, that’s how this comes out.

But I found myself reading a different story than the one Wilner was writing, at least through most of the first 14 chapters; thus, my “semi-contrarian” heading.

Here’s what I saw–based entirely on what Wilner wrote:

  • We have Character A, wealthy, extroverted, party-hearty, the life of every group. Apparently drunk most of the time as an adult.
  • We have Character B, the son of a missionary, extremely bright, awkward, with a stammer, a “scholarship boy” who doesn’t quite fit in.
  • Somehow, in their many dealings, Character A is always The Winner and Character B is, at best, The Sidekick. Not surprising: A’s a natural In-Crowd person and B’s a, well, charity case.
  • Character A even uses a derogatory nickname for Character B, not only in school but in adult life–“Chink” because he was born in China.
  • When they work together, agreeing to alternate editorial and business, somehow it’s almost always Character A’s turn to do editorial. When Character B makes a decision that makes it possible to sell Time outside the East Coast, but inconveniences Character A’s round of parties, Character A not only takes it badly, he reverses the decision as soon as Character B is out of the country.
  • Even on his deathbed Character A tries to make sure Character B can never actually have control of the magazine they co-founded, writing a will that would hamstring Character B.

Character A is Briton Hadden. Character B is Henry Luce–or “Chink Luce” as Hadden pretty consistently referred to him. It’s pretty clear that Luce didn’t care for that nickname; if Hadden had actually regarded Luce as an equal rather than a Sidekick, he would have used his actual name.

To me, most of the book read as a “friendship” where Hadden was pretty consistently taking advantage of Luce–and Luce had to realize that after awhile. Was it appropriate for him to remove Hadden’s name from the masthead after Hadden’s death? Probably not–but I can certainly appreciate why he might have done so.

One book, two stories.

[No, I’m not a great fan of Luce either.]

The Countries of OAWorld 2011-2015: out now

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

cntcvr6x9I’m pleased to announce that The Countries of OAWorld 2011-2015, the last piece in the Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 trilogy, is now available as an $8 trade paperback or a free PDF.

Details and links to the two PDF versions and single print version are at the project page,

The paperback is $2 more expensive because the book is more than 100 pages longer. (Each purchase nets me two cents, if you’re wondering.)

Yeah, I know. I thought it would take longer to prepare the two Lulu versions.


Psst…Countries of OAWorld is out, sort of

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

I won’t announce Countries of OAWorld 2011-2015 formally until the Lulu print paperback and free PDF are ready, but the “alternate version”–the one on my website, which seems to be where almost everybody’s going, is now available.

You’ll find it on the project page (or, you know, here).

This is one where I think the print book is especially nice for comparison and navigation, but experience suggests that doesn’t matter a lot. I don’t know yet what the paperback will cost; it’s much longer and up to the next dollar. $8 looks like a good possibility.

86 chapters in all, most chapters four very full pages. An alphabetic index of country and region names (123 countries, if I’m counting right–including a few that aren’t always recognized as countries)cntcvr6x9.

Oh, and there’s a heatmap of OAWorld activity on the cover…