Reflections on the Academic Book of the Future


  • Guyda Armstrong The University of Manchester
  • Marilyn Deegan The University of Manchester



This article had its genesis in the joint paper we gave at the Scholarly Networks and the Emerging Platforms for Humanities Research and Publication Colloquium in April 2015. At that point, we were at the beginning of the Academic Book of the Future Project, which had been funded to run for two years from October 2014 by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Library. As we write this contribution, the Project has just launched its two final reports, a Project Report by Marilyn Deegan and a Policy Report by Michael Jubb (Deegan, 2017; Jubb, 2017). The Project was conceived of in response to widespread concerns about books, publishing, libraries and the academy. Declining monograph sales, rising serials prices, funding problems, rapidly-changing new technologies, shifting policy landscapes, increasing pressure on academics to do more with less, all contributed to a sense of unease about the health of the academic book in the arts and humanities, and indeed about the health of the disciplines themselves. The Project was run jointly by University College London and King’s College London, with consultancy support from the Research Information Network ( It also drew on expertise from across a widespread community coalition of academics (from students to senior professors), publishers, intermediaries and policy makers. Some hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have been involved, and many useful deliverables produced. The Project had, and continues to have, considerable impact, and some of its activities, for instance Academic Book Week (, will continue for the foreseeable future.