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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hail to the Harvard Law Review

The January issue of the HLR reminds me yet again why it is the finest journal in legal academia, and its student editors the best and most perceptive in the business.  Especially when it comes to the Recent Publications section.  (Yes, this is another attempt to sell my book, which receives a short but positive notice in that section.  Incidentally, my brother turns 50 later this week and it would make an excellent gift.)

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 24, 2012 at 07:41 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink

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Comments

Anonymous Reader: This is an interesting comment, and I thank you for it. That said, I take less of an either/or view of things than you do. I continue to believe there is great value in the university presses, but it should be pointed out that 1) they are not all the same; different presses have different virtues and flaws; and 2) books, including university press books, offer some things that direct-to-Internet publication does not, including (at their best) peer review and a kind of permanence that is not always there for Internet publication. In any event, again on the either/or question, one can have both. One can write books and also write articles or blog posts. And one can publish a book and also make it available through other means. Dan Market et al. made their Family Ties book available for free on the Internet post-publication, and I posted the introductory chapter of The Agnostic Age on SSRN. Other authors have also made some or all of their books available, through Creative Commons licenses or other mechanisms, generally with the participation of the press itself. And there are also other ways of publicizing one's book: for instance, after TAA was published I wrote on op-ed in the Times on some themes that are covered in the book. I hope that made those ideas available to the wider public and also convinced a few readers (very few, based on my royalty statement!) to dig up the book and read the longer, more developed argument for themselves.

So I don't think the choice between "prestige" and the public is quite so stark or mutually exclusive as your comment might suggest. And, as someone who writes and teaches for a living, I still appreciate that from the point of view of an author, there is still something to be said for the simple ambition to occasionally write something in a form that is meant to be lasting and that, before publication, has been carefully vetted in various ways. That doesn't stop me from also blogging, posting on SSRN, etc.; I'd like to think there is room for a combination of ambitions, formats of publications, and goals for different pieces in a writer's life.

That said, I did have a conversation recently with a friend and fellow lawprof who published a trade press book, and who observed that, in his view, the purpose of book tours, press interviews, and the like is not to promote the book as such; rather, it's the book that serves as a basis for doing those tours and interviews, and gives one an opportunity to share one's ideas with the wider public. Food for thought, certainly. Thanks again for the comment.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jan 28, 2012 9:56:18 AM

The $56 price tag can't be helping....

Its funny, because at that price, "publication" ironically may ends up resulting in less people actually reading the book, as compared to posting it online and making it free.

Frankly, I'm not sure the academic presses have much of an advantage over posting stuff on the internet these days. They don't distribute well, & the author doesn't make much either, and so the end result is simply that valuable information like your book just gets buried and unfindable.

As an author, its worth asking whether you care more about the "prestige" of an academic press, or whether you care about making your work available to the public. We are in an age where that has become a choice.

Posted by: Anonymous Reader | Jan 28, 2012 12:32:21 AM

I agree with Paul Horwitz about the value of the recent publications section of the January 2012 Harvard Law Review, especially since my book, A Distinct Judicial Power: The Origins of an Independent Judiciary, 1606-1787 (Oxford University Press, 2011), is listed first and also receives a nice review. Paul might try to argue that my book is listed before his book because "Gerber" comes before "Horwitz" in the alphabet, but I know otherwise :)

Posted by: Scott Gerber | Jan 24, 2012 4:04:20 PM

In all seriousness, Shaq, one would be surprised how few complimentary copies one receives from the academic presses, alas. Be assured, however, that my parents received my very first copy of The Agnostic Age (which, while I'm thinking of it, also makes a great Yom Ha'Shoah gift).

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jan 24, 2012 8:27:32 AM

Your brother doesn't have a comp of your book? Your suggestion of gifts of your book to your brother might suggest his need for a new bookcase.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Jan 24, 2012 8:01:30 AM

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