2020 marked the real launch of mediastudies.press, with the publication of the press’s first two books. This first edition of the newsletter is also the press’s 2020 Annual Report, listing significant developments over the year, followed by a brief financial breakdown.
The books were released in five formats: online, PDF, ePub, Mobi, and paperback. In keeping with our mission to spread the books as far and wide as possible, the singles are hosted on six platforms: mediastudies.press (PubPub html) itself, as well as Project Muse (PDF), OAPEN (PDF), the Internet Archive (PDF), Google Books (ePub), and Apple Books (ePub).
As our friends at punctum and Open Book Publishers have documented, keeping track of readership and download tallies is a challenge at best. One goal for 2021 is to develop a humane means to report usage to authors, without over-feeding the metrics beast.
On the paperback side, we are working with the UK-based Printondemand-worldwide. We can upload and order small batches, for our own fulfillment—or use PODWW’s wholesaling service. We are still getting a feel for the distribution and point-of-sale side, but the print-on-demand service itself has proven excellent. (Thanks to punctum’s Dan Rudmann for recommending the operation.) For direct sales from our website, we are using an indie Stripe-enabled storefront service, Checkout Page. Here’s an example.
We were excited to join Project Muse’s Open Acess Book Program, which now hosts our first two books by PDF chapter. One major advantage is that MUSE—whose nonprofit mission resonates with ours—enables OCLC integration and inclusion in many libraries’ catalogs, along with preservation.
We are launching a quarterly newsletter. In fact, this Annual Report, in a nhtml version, will be the first, January 2021 edition.
To simplify the donation process—since mediastudies.press currently relies on charitable donations while its library paternship model is planned—we created a Donorbox account.
As our first two Public Domain books moved into production in late spring, we recruited a designer, Mark McGillivray, and a copy editor, Petra Dreiser. Mark designed our Public Domain cover template, while Petra proofed the books and line-edited new material. We’re excited to keep working with both of them.
We launched two new series, with the first titles for both to appear in 2021: the Open Reader series, html-only, media-themed collections of works available on the open web, selected and ordered with university courses in mind; and the History of Media Studies series, devoted to monographs and other original scholarly works centered on the history of media, communication, and film studies. The plan with the latter series is to encourage authors to include, and link to, archival materials cited in the text.
Earlier in the year, Tim Elfenbein—a wayward scholar of infrastructure and labor in publishing, based in Madison, WI—joined the mediastudies.press Board. For this and other organizational details, see the agenda and minutes from our January 2020 meeting, listed on our Transparency page. Tim is also advising on the publishing workflow and other infrastructure matters.
In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we publicly list our expenses, our income, and our monthly financial picture. We began the year with $1,531.36, and ended 2020 with a balance of $258.37. Our expenses—mostly proofing and copy editing—totaled $4,923.06, while our income—mostly donations from the director—totaled $3,280.69.
These figures are in line with expectations. Our 2020 budget expected $5,542.04 in spending, and—on that basis—a minimum of $3,651.30 in income. Since our expenses were a bit lower than expected, the donation income was also lower.
One of our key goals for 2021 is to develop a library partnership program, with a careful study of punctum, Open Book Publishers, Open Library of Humanities, and the work coming out of COPIM. Stay tuned!