Sustainability: Exact Editions Promotes ‘Collections’ for Book-Award Juries

In News by Porter Anderson

In the crowded book-awards space, Exact Editions recommends its environment-friendly digital ‘collections’ for prize-program jurors.

A view of book covers from Exact Editions’ Carcanet collection for its pilot of a book-award-targeting product. Image: Exact Editions

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A Demo of Exact Editions’ ‘Collections’
Our Publishing Perspectives readers will remember that London’s Exact Editions created one of the first of its “collections” examples with its “Ukraine Digital Book Collection.” We’ve also had word that the company will be showcasing  Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) books for the guild’s publishers at London Book Fair (April 18 to 20).

Today, in a possibly welcome break from the nonstop deluge of awards-program announcements that flood the book-publishing industry, the company is promoting its “collections” offering as something that the competitions’ legions of jurors could use to do their reading and evaluation work with.

During the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic—and especially early on, when many public-health officials believed that surface transmission was a major factor—it seemed prudent and logical to send jurors digital copies of books they were judging. It’s also less expensive and more environmentally sound, of course, and organizers of some competitions were already using electronic transmission instead of moving print copies of books around.

Exact Editions, in order to call attention to this capability in its services invited a group of eight publishing professionals to try out a digital book collection.

The demo used titles from Carcanet Press, headquartered in Manchester, England, and known for its work in poetry. Using World Poetry Day (March 21) for a timing handle, Exact Editions messaged the news media this week about collections-for-jurors.

If you ‘ve never looked at the calendar of UNESCO’s designated days and weeks, you have a treat in store. That may be where Exact Edition’s collections could come into useful play.

Schmidt: ‘Communities of Readers’

Exact Editions includes a book-marketing platform called the Reading Rooms for Books, and this allows side-by-side of displays of books in a collection, access to which then can be shared with a group—such as a book-award jury—on a time-limited basis and with online reading capability.

A look at Zoë Skoulding’s ‘A Marginal Sea,’ as presented in Exact Editions’ ‘collections,’ with its pages displayed for reading on the lower part of the image

Carcanet Press editorial and managing director Michael Schmidt is quoted in the material, of course, as the publisher whose books were utilized for the demo.

“I’m struck,” he says, by the offering to readers of “time-limited free access to a collection of digital books. This is a service and a real incentive to acquire a selection of the books themselves.”

Schmidt goes beyond the contest context to offer some ideas of his own, saying, “The occasion might be an award shortlist, a thematic opportunity—Irish poetry on St Patrick’s Day, Caribbean poetry during Black History Month, LGBT titles during Pride.”

He also suggests that book clubs could be generated with “existing and forthcoming titles matched with online events and introductions. The time-limited access has clear promotional advantages. It also can help us build communities of readers.”

For years, of course, publishers have used digital means to move review copies of books to critics; available copies of books to libraries’ digital staffs; and peer-to-peer book recommendations across reading populations, Goodreads being probably the largest.

So nothing about purposefully collected titles targeted for specialized use with cut-off times is particularly new. The Exact Editions feature, however, does offer one more way to get titles around to people who need access to them a time when the book publishing industry’s responsiveness to the world’s climate crisis is becoming rapidly more acute—as is demonstrated in the alarming new “synthesized” report, also just out this week, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is some of the material that London Book Fair’s “sustainability hub” program will look at. (More information on that is coming.)

If anything, a well-presented collection of the many reports brought together under the umbrella of this new synthesis is another thing one might think of for a useful collection.

Exact Editions will surely find no lack of uses for its tool, for publishers of many kinds.

More from Publishing Perspectives on digital publishing is here, more on Exact Editions is here, and more from us on London Book Fair is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.