Press news

Merry Christmas
from Press News, posted 12/23/2010 - 12:29

 I write this early in the morning of December 23rd with snow steadily falling. My immediate future is thus reasonably clear: shovelling snow before breakfast then venturing out into possible transport chaos for a last day of work at the Press this year. At least we are promised a white Christmas, which is a bit of a treat for someone raised where Christmas signalled the start of summer.


The longer term future is less clear, essentially due to the big M word – money.
In financial terms, 2010 has been a mixed year. Last year we prided ourselves on increasing sales in a grim global economic climate where some presses suffered severe drops in income. We were probably a bit too smug because for us the hammer dropped early this year. At one point at its worst, in like-for-like sales we were down massively and only saved somewhat by the slump in value of the euro, which meant that all of our sales income in pounds, dollars and baht was commensurately higher. Later in the year, sales picked up and indeed November was our best month ever for European sales, about four times higher than normal.
We shall thus probably end our financial and calendar year a bit bruised and battered but otherwise in a reasonable condition.
Not by chance, perhaps, our financial low point followed a period when European air transport was paralysed by the volcanic ash cloud swirling down from Iceland. This left me stranded in New Zealand for a while but no doubt it did me some good to have an enforced stay in a very local society whose immediate concern was that the grape harvest should be successful (and the world glut in Sauvignon Blanc wine disappear).
Unfortunately, as is now happening in many countries, in Denmark the initial strategy to spend one’s way out of the economic crisis has given way to a new strategy of public service cuts. These are not as savage as those being implemented in Britain but the cuts in university funding here are worrisome. At one point, it was mooted that an income loss equivalent to 600 jobs was in prospect at Copenhagen University alone.
NIAS has not been immune here and its own deficit has meant that staff savings have had to be made. As a small department of the institute and already lean in its operations, the Press has been especially affected; the retirement and non-replacement of senior editor Leena Höskuldsson is a major blow. Further departures and changes are foreshadowed next year. In all, from 2011, NIAS Press will be operating with much fewer staff based at the institute. If we are to continue publishing at our current level, this will mean that more work must be undertaken externally and funded by new income. It is another matter just how realistic a prospect this is.
Doom and gloom are incompatible with publishing, however. Our business may be cursed by the over-abundance of new products (as opposed to the McDonald’s model in which the same products are produced and sold, day in, day out). But there is a silver lining here; editors especially always have an alluring new title to enthuse about – and to dream impossible dreams of fame and fortune.
And it can happen; there are good reasons why we should be incurable optimists – some new titles are successful.
So it has been for NIAS Press this year. No new title has bombed (which is a relief) but a few titles have done very well and some have surprised me by selling much better than expected. So much so that in the last two months I have been busy shuffling stock around the globe and ordering reprints. This has got almost ridiculous. Indeed, yesterday, I sent four reprint jobs off to the printer.
It is unwise to mention some titles and omit others. However, I can hardly discuss 2010 without mentioning two new titles, not just because they sold well but also because they caused us a lot of angst.
First up has to be Robert Cribb’s Digital Atlas of Indonesian History. This was our first venture into genuinely electronic publishing: not the PDF of a printed book but an interactive, online, bells-and-whistles exploration of Indonesian history combining maps, images and text. The problem with path-breaking works, however, is the jungle in the way. Technically, the atlas was a massive job for a small press to undertake – but this we managed. The agony for us in 2010, however, was to successfully complete a brilliant intellectual work but discover that the packaging material was not up to scratch; copies of the atlas arrived at our warehouses with up to a quarter of the copies in an unsaleable condition (mainly due to cracks in the DVD case). Fixing this problem with a more durable (and elegant) solution took time and it was not until late October that copies of the atlas were available to its impatient but appreciative users in Europe and the Americas.
Our book on the Thai monarchy (Saying the Unsayable, edited by Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager) was another headache – not for any technical reasons this time but because of the intensely political nature of the subject. I shall refrain from going into details here and merely observe that for a while now the roller-coaster has been heading one way – upwards – at great speed.
There have been other noteworthy achievements this year, not least completion of digitisation of almost all of the NIAS Press list. Digitising the first three decades of the institute’s publication programme is proving much more troublesome, however – not least tracking down authors, obtaining their blessing for a digital revival of their long-out-of-print works and actually scanning these old publications. I am dubious about the return on investments in time and money here but this is something that we (like most presses) have committed ourselves to doing. Whether or not it is only Google who ultimately benefits is another matter.
On that sombre note I ventured out into the storm. Perhaps that is a good image to remember 2010 by. And 2011? We have much planned for next year but appropriate here is that, in March–April, we shall be exhibiting our latest titles at the massive AAS–ICAS meeting in Honolulu. As such, I hope to remember 2011 as sunlight and sandals, more fun than snow drifts.
However good or bad our year has gone, the good bits would not have been possible without your contribution – be you author, colleague, partner, customer, whatever. That is perhaps as it should be. Ours is a fragile world of delicate interconnections. I love my job for its everyday intellectual stimulation but what makes it especially worthwhile it working with many nice people. Please include yourself in that list.
I don’t believe in the politically correct ‘Happy Holidays’ nor it is appropriate in this weather. Instead, let us bid you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Gerald Jackson
Editor in Chief, NIAS Press


‘Saying the Unsayable’ reviewed in the ‘Bangkok Post’
from Press News, posted 12/13/2010 - 11:36

For some time now there has been a certain amount of froth generated in the blogosphere about a new NIAS book, Saying the Unsayable, edited by Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager. What has excited certain commentators is that the volume scrutinizes the image of the modern Thai monarchy as protector of the nation, guardian of tradition and the institution to bring modernity and progress to the Thai people. Even the vexed issue of Thailand’s controversial lése majesté laws is examined in detail.


That said, this is a carefully written book, as is apparent in the first review of the volume to be published – a thoughtful piece by Chris Baker, appearing in today’s edition of the Bangkok Post. An excerpt from this is found on our website but the full review is available here.


Books. books. books
from Press News, posted 10/27/2010 - 13:40

We are surrounded by boxes spilling lovely new books as we dig into the latest delivery from our printers. It is such a long - and sometimes such a winding - road from idea to final product, so the day when all the intellectual endeavours of author and publisher finally appear in their physical form is worth a celebration.

Do you know, just as there is a special, wonderful dead acoustic feeling in a bookshop, so there is a special, wonderful chemical smell to a box of brand new books. And then there is the proud task of putting copies out on the lunch table for all the colleagues to see, and popping a sample up on our office display, and giving the go-ahead for the first several boxes to be shared out among the author, the reviewers and our distributors.

This week, the books offering us great pleasure are

Also just in is the new paperback edition of Gerhard van den Top's book The Social Dynamics of Deforestation in the Philippines.

And lastly, even at-lastly, we are about to release on the world a flood of Robert Cribb's long-awated Digital Atlas of Indonesian History, copies of which should be dispatched from our various warehouses next week.

Not a bad haul, even if we say so ourselves!


Holidays for some
from Press News, posted 06/16/2010 - 14:28

Summer will soon be upon us, they say (the Danish spring has been particularly dismal this year), and – as a result – the Copenhagen headquarters of NIAS Press will be semi-dormant for a few weeks in July. Elsewhere, however, no holiday is planned and quite a few things with regard to the Press will be happening. These include:

• Shipping and delivery to our warehouses of

Robert Cribb’s Digital Atlas of Indonesian History; and
Noburu Ishikawa’s Between Frontiers

• Printing of

The Interplay of the Oral and the Written in Chinese Popular Literature
Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia; and
Saying the Unsayable

• Typesetting of the

Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts; and
Politicized Society

• Exhibitions of NIAS Press books at about twenty conferences, including

Ethnic Crises in Burma/Myanmar (Copenhagen)
Southeast Asia update (Amsterdam)
IAHA (International Association of Historians of Asia) conference (Singapore)
ASAA (Asian Studies Association of Australia) conference (Adelaide)
UK Association for Buddhist Studies conference (Leeds)
International Burma Studies Conference (Marseilles)
2010 Melbourne Conference on China (Melbourne)

• Preparing our upcoming catalogue

And much, much more.

… and that’s just in the next 3–4 weeks.

August looks like it will be frantically busy. But meantime, if you are off on holiday in the next few weeks, we trust that the weather treats you kindly and you have a splendid break.



‘Getting Published’ reviewed in ‘Learned Publishing’
from Press News, posted 06/04/2010 - 08:03

Our Getting Published gets a good review by Oxford University’s Anna Marie Roos in the latest edition of Learned Publishing. She writes:

‘Publish or perish’ is the mantra for academics wishing to get a job, to get tenured, to get promoted, or to secure that plum grant or university position. As competition for academic posts becomes increasingly stiff, growing numbers of new PhDs and DPhils are submitting modified versions of their doctoral dissertations to academic publishers, who themselves are facing market recession and competition from electronic media. But all is not lost. Editor-in-Chief Gerald Jackson and his colleague Marie Lenstrup, who directs ASBS Netherlands, a book publishing consultancy, have written a clear and accessible new guide to getting published for the academic author in the humanities and social sciences. What makes this volume different from comparable titles on the market is that it is written by industry insiders, who are familiar with guiding academic authors through the publication process.

Their guide, designed for ready reference, covers the practicalities of academic publishing in a clear and accessible manner. Jackson and Lenstrup begin with a description of the roles of the staff behind the scenes at the publishing house, going on to discuss the interplay between the expectations of author, publisher, and reader for different types of academic books, ranging from monographs to successful cross-over books for the general market. They also cover one of the most important, yet usually overlooked, topics in academic publishing: how to choose a great title. …

The authors’ chart covering the main differences between a thesis and a monograph is one of the best I have seen; it should be a large-scale poster put on every new faculty member’s door. …

There follows a very well-considered chapter on promoting one’s own book – something that introverted academic authors often neglect. As publishers quickly lose interest in new titles after they have been out for six months, the authors remind us that it is really up to the author to get his or her book out there. …

Getting Published is well organized, clearly written, and reasonably priced; it should be on the academic author’s bookshelf.

Not bad, shan’t grumble. The full review can be read at the Learned Publishing link above. Thanks to Paul Kratoska of NUS Press for the pointer.


NIAS Press e-Newsletter
from Press News, posted 06/03/2010 - 06:14

We are very pleased to tell you that the first issue of our new e-Newsletter recently hit the intrays. The newsletter features notices of new books just published, details of conferences and other events where we or our books will be present, special offers for subscribers, and much more.

In an effort to kill slightly fewer trees, we have ceased sending a paper catalogue to scholars, but will instead include details of forthcoming and recently published books in the e-Newsletter.

We have no intention, though, of clogging up your intrays with constant chatter about every little thing that NIAS Press does, so will limit ourselves to sending out three e-Newsletters per year, in January, May and September.

If you did not get a copy in your personal intray, then we do not yet have your e-mail address and you must join our mailing list to ensure you don't miss out on future issues.


Rethinking how we present scholarly research
from Press News, posted 05/05/2010 - 06:13

After being stranded in New Zealand last month due to the volcanic cloud, NIAS Press editor in chief Gerald Jackson is finally back on the job. One might have thought that being stranded was enough and that his luck would have held in other ways at least. Not so. Part of his trip involved a San Francisco stopover, with purchase of one of Apple’s new iPads near the top of his to-do list. 

Sadly, he failed; no iPad was to be found for love or money. This new gadget is selling like crazy.

Happily, he did get to test drive an iPad and has mixed thoughts about it. For his first impressions of the iPad – and why he thinks it has the potential to utterly transform how we present scholarly research – you might like to visit the latest post from his Getting Published blog.


Farewell Frans
from Press News, posted 05/04/2010 - 08:34

  It is with great sorrow that we heard today of the unexpected death of Frans Hüsken, an old friend of NIAS (and an old NIAS author) aged only 64 years. Latterly, Frans was Professor of Anthropology at the Radboud University of Nijmegen but he had a varied career and played an important role in the creation and early success of IIAS (the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden). His research interests were in historical and political anthropology and the history of anthropology. In his fieldwork he focused on socio-economic, political and cultural transformations, particularly in rural Indonesia. Fuller details are here.

Among his many other works, Frans offered a very perceptive account of local elections under the New Order in his chapter, ‘Village Elections in Central Java: State Control or Grassroot Democracy’, in Hans Antlöv and Sven Cederroth (eds), Leadership on Java, produced by NIAS and published by Curzon in 1994. Over the years he kept in touch and it was only a few weeks ago that we chatted. He will be sorely missed by many, not least his family who must be shocked by this unexpected death. (If you wish to leave your condolences for Frans, you can do so here.)

Thanks to Charles Coppel and his Indonesia list for the notification.


Back from the AAS
from Press News, posted 04/06/2010 - 21:53

No, we didn’t carry off a whole swag of book prizes (though we should have!) but actually we came back home pretty satisfied the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, held a couple of weeks ago in Philadelphia. I didn’t hear any delegate total announced this time but – despite the recession – the conference bustled and the NIAS Press stand got its fair share of attention.

Although we had a number of interesting new titles on display, the most attention (I think) was given to Robert Cribb’s Digital Atlas of Indonesian History, an advance copy of which just made it to the conference on time. Here of course it helped that people could ‘get their hands dirty’ using the real thing (on the laptop seen here behind Marie).

While Marie was chained to the book exhibition for much of the conference, I scurried between panels, met with authors and generally hustled. On the Friday afternoon, we took part in a publishing roundtable that saw a good conversation between a broad group of publishers, librarians and authors. Ostensibly, the topic was ‘Getting Published’ (a subject close to our heart) but in fact the roundtable roamed across far more issues than this, most of which however were tinged by the impact of moves towards electronic publishing.

Further roundtables are planned at subsequent AAS annual meetings. We look forward to taking part in these and trust that as many of you as possible will also participate. Before then, however, we shall be part of a ‘seriously brilliant’ panel and master class on getting published at the upcoming Euroseas conference in Gothenburg in late August. If you can make it there, you will find this dual event well worth attending.


AAS 2010 conference
from Press News, posted 03/17/2010 - 10:57

The annual AAS conference is almost upon us so we have been busy gathering books to show, producing new catalogues and fliers to hand out, and planning our schedule and appointments.

This year, NIAS Press is sending Editor-in-Chief Gerald Jackson and Marketing Manager Marie Lenstrup to AAS. We hope that all those of our authors and readers who are also going to AAS will visit our stand to say hello and to have a look at our new books.




Press news

  • Aug. 9 2019
    Carol Ann Boshier's book 'Mapping Cultural Nationalism: The Scholars of the Burma Research Society,1910-1935' has been shortlisted for the EuroSEAS Humanities Book Prize 2019. Congratulations!

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