May 28, 2022

New Issue Brief From Ithaka S+R Looks at Reimagining the Book Review Process

Here’s a new issue brief written by Oona Schmid, director of publishing at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and released online today by Ithaka S + R.

It’s titled, Faster and Cheaper: Can a Digital-Centric Workflow Transform the Book Review?

From a Summary:

Academic authors in the humanities and social sciences often wait three or more years to see the first reviews of their scholarly monographs.

Why does it take so long?

…because book reviewing still relies on a print-centric system. Thanks to funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the AAA is now developing a prototype to completely re-imagine the book review process to make it both “faster and cheaper.” With a speedier book review workflow in place, Scmid argues, publishers, authors, and the larger scholarly community all stand to gain.

Direct to Full Text Issue Brief (6 pages; PDF via Ithaka S+R)

See Also: American Anthropological Association Pioneers Digital Book Review Process (via AAA)

The platform will expand the open source Open Journals System from the Public Knowledge Project. Once released, the platform will be available to any discipline or journal using OJS software. Freie Universität Berlin provided PKP with the original iteration of the Objects for Review plugin, and provides active guidance in the prototype development. Publishers will upload book descriptions into the system along with digital versions that will be electronically available to authorized reviewers. Reviewers will then upload their reviews into the database for approval and eventual publication online at the award-winning Anthropology News website.

Five university presses pledged early support of the platform, with more expressing great interest – University of Chicago Press, University of Nebraska Press, University of New Mexico Press, University Press of Colorado, and the University Press of Florida. The presses emphasized the need for improvements in the existing process. Darrin Pratt, Director at the University Press of Colorado, is looking forward to helping pioneer this “radically new workflow for scholarly book reviews.” Pratt notes, “the slow turnaround for book reviews in academic journals…is maddening for university presses.” He can recall titles that were reviewed so long after publication that the books were no longer in print. Pratt’s counterpart, John Byram, Director at University of New Mexico Press, also echoes frustration with the timely process. Byram anticipates “that these efforts will result in a more efficient, cost-effective, and accessible workflow process for a wide variety of international stakeholders.”

See Also: Anthropology Group Will Test a Faster, Digital Approach to Book Reviews (by Jennifer Howard, COHE)
July 7, 2014.

See Also: Bringing Scholarly Book Review into the Digital Age: The American Anthropological Association Initiative (via PLOS Neuroanthropology)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.