MIT Press Senior Editor Tom Stone reflects on a surprising example of the timeliness of scholarly pubishing:
During the late 1980's I was a young Acquisition Editor publishing scholarly and professional titles and journals for a scientific, technical and medical publisher. My main fear was how I would keep up on the latest trends in science and engineering, trends that would be the topic of books 2 to 3 years later. Lamenting this to a research scientist at the Whitehead Institute at MIT, he suggested I do what he did, read either the New York Times or Wall Street Journal every day. Follow the money and you will know what will be big in the next few years. I still follow that suggestion and check out the WSJ everyday just to be on top of trends. While I am generally looking for the next important topic I do often note when an article references one of my recently published titles. That, sadly, is a rare event as I now publish cognitive science, philosophy and linguistics and these tend to get less coverage than the next great nanotechnology discovery.
This past week, my reading of the WSJ and my publishing program found a surprising connection. Next week I am publishing Standard Basque: A Progressive Grammar by Rudolph P.G. de Rijk, A 1000+ page definition of the Basque language intended to be the reference for official Basque. Certainly, an important work for the scholarly community but I did not have great expectation for press coverage of this publishing event. Imagine my surprise when, on Tuesday November 6, I noticed a front page article in the Wall Street Journal with the title, Basque Inquisition: How Do You Say Shepherd in Euskera (subscription) by Keith Johnson. The article introduces the new standard Basque language, Euskera, which is formally defined in our soon to be published Standard Basque. The article notes that anyone expecting to do business in the Basque region of Northern Spain and Western France will need to produce all contract and documents in the official Basque language. Sadly, the author of the article was unaware of the pending publication of Standard Basque and I'm sure he would have pointed all his WSJ readers to MIT Press if he had known but in this case, MIT Press is way ahead of the curve! I'm sure we will send the WSJ a copy of our new book. And now, we know, that many corporations hoping to do business in the Basque region will be interested in our new publication.
And, me, I'll keep reading the WSJ trying to track trends for the future and also looking for connections to my current publishing program.