Are you a publisher wondering whether to take on innovative digital projects? Has an author approached you with an exciting idea but you aren’t sure how to begin evaluating this opportunity? Here are a few notes that might help you on your way. As part of our participation on the 3D Digital Edition Publishing Cooperative grant awarded to UC Santa Cruz by the NHPRC and Mellon Foundation earlier this year, I’ve put together a first draft of questions that might help other publishers in their decision-making process.
These guidelines are comprised of a series of first-order questions and are intended to serve as a complement to questions already asked in any acquisitions process. They do not constitute evaluation guidelines along the lines of peer review or tenure and promotion review.
What type of traditional publication is this project comparable to: reference, textbook, monograph, article?
Does your press already publish this type or, if not, is there institutional knowledge to take on this type of publication?
What problem is the proposed innovative presentation method solving that a traditional publication format could not address?
Would a different presentation work just as well or better? (Consider print, hybrid, digital-only.)
Does the technology meet your press’s expectations or requirements for design, accessibility, maintenance and support, longevity?
Will you be able to host the project or will you expect the author to host the project?
How long do you expect to be able to offer access to the project?
Based on the answer to the previous question, what are your medium- to long-term plans for preserving or archiving this publication?
Which business model will you apply and how will you implement it?
We’ve shared this draft list with our fellow publishers on the 3D grant and look forward to seeing the set of questions evolve as more and more presses take on this kind of work.
Friederike Sundaram is Acquisitions Editor for Digital Projects at Stanford University Press. She is responsible for building the program by acquiring and commissioning projects across the humanities and social sciences.