A Case for Multilingual Open-Access Academic Publishing

An open access Farsi translation of our 2016 book Who’s Afraid of Multilingual Education? by Amir Kalan was recently made available. In this post the author explains why the publication of this translation is so important. 

The English and Farsi editions side by side

Although English academic writing has facilitated communication between scholars from different parts of the world, it has at the same time contributed to complex forms of academic imperialism, which harmfully interferes with knowledge creation and dissemination in languages other than English. In 2016, I published a book with Multilingual Matters about dominant discourses regarding mother tongue-based multilingual education in the Iranian context. The book, entitled Who’s Afraid of Multilingual Education?, was written based on interviews with influential scholars of multilingual education and language rights in order to contribute ideas to the mother tongue education debate in Iran. The open access publication of the Farsi translation of the book recently became possible thanks to Multilingual Matters – who provided the copyright – and University of Dayton – who published the ebook. In this blog post, I briefly write about the significance of the publication of the translation of the book.

Academic publishing in English has created a global community of scholars who share thoughts and experiences about a wide range of topics including global issues that occur outside the English speaking world. Academics working in the Anglo-American world write about other people’s cultural practices, languages, literature, art, and education. Western scholars even write the histories of non-western populations in English, the de facto academic lingua franca. On the other hand, non-English speaking international researchers are also pressured to publish in English for promotion, a trend encouraged by university ranking dynamics. This trend, on the bright side, has been a blessing in that we become aware of issues and conversations in many parts of the world. There is, however, a darker side to this status.

The journal industry and academic publishing apparatus are practically at the service of promoting a commercialized higher education, which uses researchers’ work for marketing purposes as well as knowledge dissemination. Academics’ publications in this sense become the window of the higher education marketplace in the West for potential shoppers. This approach has serious consequences for knowledge creation and consumption. Most accessible knowledge today is packaged in English, which has practically made non-English academic texts be perceived as less reliable. Also, university libraries have become the main customers of publishers because the books are sold at high prices, alienating public audiences – including non-English speaking populations. For researchers, this means investing their lives into books and papers that would only be read by a small number of readers, or even not read at all. At the same time, academics are pressured to publish more and more, resulting in a focus on quantity and repetition rather than quality and originality.

When it comes to international scholars the situation is even worse. International scholars whose research focuses on local contexts beyond the English speaking world are typically required by their institutions to publish in English. International scholars have to write in a language other than their mother tongue and compete with English speaking scholars who are often already connected with the English academic publishing and journal industry. Just as problematically, international researchers’ work often involves local issues, but because their findings are published in English, local populations have almost no access to the results of the research that was conducted for studying their cultures. This phenomenon raises serious epistemological questions about knowledge dissemination and the positionality of researchers as well as significant conversations about ethics of academic publishing.

The Farsi translation of Who’s Afraid of Multilingual Education? bent this model in favour of the population that the book was written about and, to a large degree, written for: Iranian educators. With the situation of mother tongue-based multilingual education in Iran in the background, the book brought together prominent scholars of language policy and linguistic rights in different parts of the world to respond to the doubts and questions of Iranian educators and ethnic mother tongue activists. Although the outcome of this conversation was an analysis of sociopolitical discourses that are meant to undermine the role of minoritized languages all over the world, the catalyst of our conversations was the challenges minoritized students are facing in today’s Iran. Thus, one ideal audience among others for this book would naturally be Iranian teachers eager to learn about effective policies and practices in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, the academic publishing industry has not been designed for interaction with native populations.

Iranian language teachers – especially those in disadvantaged provinces where minority languages are suppressed – would never be able to afford the English book. In some cases the price of one copy of the book would equal an Iranian teacher’s monthly income. Even if an enthusiastic teacher decided to make such an investment, he or she still would have no access to the book. A combination of western sanctions and the Iranian government’s strict censorship policies has practically made the distribution of the book in Iran impossible. Most foreign publishers have no active presence in Iran; online retailers such as Amazon do not provide service in Iran; and western credit card companies have no reach within the country and its banking system, which makes online shopping impossible. In these circumstances, the educators who practically own the conversation which the English book presents have no access to the text written about their lives.

The English version of Who’s Afraid of Multilingual Education? was not funded in any form. The book was not connected to the participating scholars’ sponsored research. The publication was the fruit of personal commitment and interest of researchers who deeply cared about minoritized students. The translator of the book similarly decided to pen the Farsi version out of personal passion without our knowledge. He had finished the translation months before he contacted me to share news about his work. When I approached Multilingual Matters and the University of Dayton about the possibility of open access publication of the book and highlighted the fact that such a move could break the current mode of elite academic publishing, they did not hesitate to support the free online publication of the Farsi version and worked hard to guarantee the high quality of the publication. Multilingual Matters generously provided the translator with the rights to the Farsi version and offered moral support. The manager of University of Dayton’s E-scholarship also worked hard to release the book in the best possible format as soon as possible.

I am grateful to Multilingual Matters and University of Dayton for supporting the open access publication of the translation of my work. Apart from my personal interest in the project, their decision, I believe, has had important ideological, sociocultural, and economic implications. The translation resists the English-only stance of mainstream academic publishing industry. It provides access to local educators who are the real owners of the book content and invites them to share their thoughts about the debate. In other words, the conversation is no longer about them but with them. Additionally, the free online distribution of the book creates access for native teachers who are often financially disadvantaged. It is fair to see this experience as an example of how we can democratize the academic publishing industry and perhaps remedy some of the effects of the current academic colonialism.

Amir Kalan

 

For more information about Who’s Afraid of Multilingual Education? please see our website. You can access the Farsi translation of the book here.

Why do we publish some of our books in hardback only?

As a small, independent publisher we are fortunate that most of our publishing decisions can come from the heart (‘do I like this book?’ ‘is it important?’ ‘is it new?’) rather than the head (‘will it make money for our shareholders?’ ‘will it help me hit targets?’). However one of the downsides of being such a small operation is that our margins for error are not huge, and when things go wrong, or the market takes a downturn, we don’t have a large university or a multinational conglomerate to cushion us: we stand or fall by the quality of the books we’ve published recently and the number of people prepared to buy them.

Laura, Anna and Tommi at AAAL selling all our books, both paperbacks AND hardbacks, at the same discount price

Until relatively recently we were unusual in publishing virtually all of our books in both paperback and hardback, with the paperbacks appearing at the same time as the hardbacks. If money were no object this is undoubtedly how we would choose to publish our books: making quality research widely available is why we do what we do, and publishing any other way is a wrench for us. I hate telling authors that they aren’t getting a paperback of their books, and none of us like to stand behind a conference table and hear how students can’t afford to buy our books. There’s little joy in publishing if your audience is small and getting smaller.

But about 18 months ago we were hit by the perfect storm of the continuing effects of the financial crisis on both library and individual budgets, increasing costs, and library ebook deals which meant that we were often receiving a tiny percentage of the income we did 10 years ago for providing the same product. In effect, large numbers of our books were no longer selling enough to cover our costs in producing them, let alone make us a profit. We were faced with a decision: do we throw our hands up, accept that there is no longer a role for independent academic publishers, and go and do something else? Or do we make changes to ensure that most of the books we publish at least pay their own way? And it’s sad but true that it’s easier for us to cover our costs on a book where we sell 80 hardback copies than where we sell 30 hardbacks and 100 paperbacks.

We recognise that this means we are producing books that are unaffordable for some people who might want to buy them – what do we do to try and make our books as affordable as we can?

  • We still publish over half our titles in paperback and hardback simultaneously.
  • We offer many and varied discounts and promotions. Anyone who has ever written for us is entitled to a permanent 50% discount on everything we publish.
  • When only a hardback is available, we price the ebook as if there were a paperback – not all publishers do this.
  • We offer substantial discounts at conferences, bigger than those of most of our competitors.
  • We review all of our books 6 months after publication and if sales of either the hardback or the ebook suggest that there might be a bigger market than we anticipated, we produce a paperback. We also take into account feedback from readers, librarians and our sales reps: if enough people are asking for a paperback, we produce one.
  • We keep prices down on our most popular books, rather than charging as much as we could for books that readers have to buy for courses or to keep their own work up-to-date.
Some recent titles originally published in hardback only that we’ve decided to bring out in paperback

As an author, you can give your book the best possible chance of being published in paperback by keeping the widest possible (realistic!) audience in mind when writing – might your research be of interest to teachers, policy-makers, parents? Are you writing to make your research accessible to scholars from other disciplines? Are you linking your research to wider debates so it will be of interest to readers not specifically working in your particular research context? When the book is written, let us know if there are specific courses that might use your book. And after the book is published, pass on feedback to us – if people are asking you for a paperback, tell them to ask us.

We’re always very happy to discuss any ideas our authors and customers might have for making our books more affordably or widely available. Please get in touch with me if you have any thoughts! Every decision to publish a book in hardback only is accompanied by a good deal of soul-searching in the CVP/MM office, but I do believe that if we are to continue to publish important books, to innovate and lead the field, and to be a small force for good in the world, we do sometimes have to take hard decisions.

Anna

If you have any thoughts about this blog post, please do get in touch with us at info@channelviewpublications.com.

The Power of the Nonverbal in Communication – Part 1

This month we published Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Behavior by Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre. In the first of a two-part blog post, Tammy and Peter explain what inspired them to write a book about nonverbal communication.

Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal BehaviorReaders may ask themselves why two people who have dedicated much of their academic careers to language-related issues would suddenly write a book on communicating without language – or at least making meaning through means that accompany the verbal. In the paragraphs that follow, we tell our stories…

Tammy’s saga:

Long before I ever read literature on Emotional or Interpersonal Intelligence, I anecdotally surmised that those individuals who had “people smarts” simply were those people who could read others’ nonverbals. They could make the initial acquaintance of a person and within milliseconds of their interaction, these people-savvy folks were able to pick up the other’s vibes and effectively act accordingly. Whether through conscious inspection or subconscious osmosis, I knew in my gut that such mind-and-body-language readers were gifted with the instantaneous interpretation of the bombardment of nonverbal cues that characterize all human interaction. I was hooked, and my curiosity about this phenomenon propelled me to investigate it further.

But now I get ahead of myself…my nonverbal intrigue actually started long before I could even process the simplest of thoughts. It began with my relationship with my dad – which means within hours of being born. If you read the Dedication Page of Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Behavior, I used this opportunity to honor my father. It says in part, “To my father, F. Neal Gregersen, who, had it not been for his characteristic silence, I would never have understood the awesome power of nonverbal communication.” You see, my dad is a man of very few words, so if one wants to have a verbal conversation, it often turns into a monologue. However, one would be gravely mistaken to think that he doesn’t communicate. Although he doesn’t often use language, those of us who know him well only need to see the smallest change in his demeanor to know exactly what he is thinking. As I was growing up, his only means of discipline was what the five of us kids deemed, “The Look”.  Whenever we were the recipients of it, we immediately shaped up. Hence, I understood early in my life the immense power of nonverbal cues and I wanted to know more. That was then and this is now….

Peter’s journey:

It was my first semester at university, one of our assignments was to do a review of a research paper. I chose a paper by Professor Nancy Henley on ways in which nonverbal communication relates to interpersonal power – the doctor touches the patient and not the other way around because the doctor is in a position of power. It was nothing short of a revelation! Other examples in Henley’s work brought to light the complexity of everyday communication. At the time I was taking courses in Psychology and Interpersonal Communication, and Henley’s work forged such a fascinating bridge between the disciplines, I’ve been hooked ever since. It is powerful to realize that I was a full and active participant in a process that had never been explained overtly, but I knew the rules – everybody knows the rules. I wondered, how is that possible?

I am sure many readers of this blog have had a similar experience in doing research on a topic – a process that is right in front of you is explained in a new way. But there is something unique about nonverbal communication, it is so ubiquitous and so effective in conveying information, yet it seems so natural. When we then add the idea of language and culture into the mix, and that sometimes people in different places have different ways of doing things, nonverbal communication becomes all the more interesting.

Like Tammy, I am dedicating this book to people who taught me a lot about nonverbal communication, my teachers and especially my mother. Unlike Tammy’s dad, my mom had no trouble with verbal communication, but for her the message was all in the tone of voice. I can vividly recall when I said that I didn’t want to do some chore, she would say “never mind.” By conventional definition, the words said I was off the hook but the unmistakable tone meant I had better get to it.

We hope that people will enjoy reading the book as much as we did writing it. Please be sure to check out the videos that demonstrate nonverbal concepts. Videos are embedded in the ebook and available on the web for the printed book. The videos were great fun to produce and add a unique dimension to this book – more on that in another blog entry…

Capitalizing on Language Learners' IndividualityPositive Psychology in SLAFor more information about this book, please see our website. The videos that accompany the book can be found on our YouTube channel. If you found this interesting, you might like the other books Tammy and Peter have published with us, Capitalizing on Language Learners’ Individuality and Positive Psychology in SLA (co-edited with Sarah Mercer). Watch this space for Part 2…

Small Yet International: Our Books Travel the World

We describe ourselves as a small, international, independent academic publisher. Being small, it may seem like also being international would be very difficult. In fact, for us that’s certainly not the case. As you can read in previous blog posts, our authors come from right around the world. In fact since that post was written in 2011 the list of countries our authors come from has continued to grow and in this year alone we have published books based on research in countries and regions as diverse as the Arctic, Bosnia and China (and could probably make a good stab at completing the rest of the alphabet too!).

We travel a lot and ensure that our books are seen by people all over the world. Our conference and travel schedules are always packed and we make an effort to attend not only big conferences but also smaller, local ones where we can. We do our best to make our books both accessible and affordable to anyone interested in them and this is reflected in our sales figures. We thought it might be interesting to share information about the international reach of our print books with our blog readers.

Last year, our books made it straight from our warehouse to 74 countries of the world, and possibly even more as we cannot trace what happens to books which go through our two biggest UK customers, the wholesalers Gardners and Bertrams. Because of the size of these wholesalers the top 10 countries list is a little skewed as we know that, while the UK is at the top, this is not because our books are being picked up by many readers in Britain but rather, they are being sold on to bookshops around the globe. The same goes for our North American sales, but to a slightly lesser extent. With that in mind, this chart shows the top ten countries, in terms of the number of individual books bought from us over the past 12 months.

Top 10 countries (units sold)
Top 10 countries (units sold)

In part this list reflects the hard work of our reps who promote our titles to their local customers. We have reps working in our bigger markets, such as China and Japan, as well as covering smaller nations such as those of the Caribbean. We meet with our reps at least annually at the Frankfurt Book Fair and make occasional visits to see them in their territories. You can read more about the work of our reps in a post written by Andrew White who represents us in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

For customers for whom a print book is too expensive or difficult to obtain, we ensure that the option of purchasing an ebook is a possibility. All our new titles are published simultaneously as consumer ebooks and always at a much lower price. We have put a big effort into making our back catalogue also available as ebooks and are always happy to take requests if there is something that a reader wants that isn’t yet online – just send us an email and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

Laura

A-Z of Publishing: E is for…

E is for EbooksE is for Ebooks. All our new titles are published simultaneously in print and as ebooks. Our ebooks are usually roughly half the price of our print books and so we hope that those who are unable to purchase a printed copy of the work may be able to access an ebook. As well as being for sale on our own website, our ebooks are also available for the Amazon Kindle, on Apple’s iBookstore, through Google Play and a variety of other vendors such as ebooks.com, kobobooks.com and nook.com. For more information go to the Ebooks page on our website.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

Get an ebook for £1.49 if you’ve already bought the printed version!

Channel View has just partnered with BitLit! BitLit allows customers who have already bought the print edition of one of our books to buy the ebook for only £1.49. We’re really excited to offer our readers a way to access the content they’ve purchased in different formats. How BitLit works:

(1) Download the BitLit app on your smartphone (App store for iPhones, Google Play store for Android).

Shelfie!
Shelfie!

(2) Take a ‘shelfie’ of your bookshelf (see example of my shelfie).

(3) Based on your shelfie, BitLit will let you know which books are available to download.

Copyright page example
Copyright page example

(4) Once you know it’s available take a photo of the cover of your book and sign your name on the copyright page (normally p. iv in our books) in ALL CAPS.

(5) Your ebook will be delivered to you via email. From there you can download it to any of your devices.

If you give this a try we’d love to hear about your experience using the BitLit app and please feel free to send in your shelfies to info@channelviewpublications.com!

60% off all ebooks in July

We are offering a special 60% discount off all Multilingual Matters / Channel View Publications ebooks for the month of July.

Just go to the ebook page on our website and enter the code JULY60 when you get to the checkout.

We hope that you enjoy this special offer. Please feel free to pass this on to your colleagues.

Please email info@multilingual-matters.com for further information or if you have any problems.

Logos combined

New ebook initiative!

We have recently launched our latest ebook initiative, which aims to give customers greater flexibility in terms of where and how they can read our books.  Tucked inside the paperback copy of each of the books involved in the trial is a special bookmark.  This bookmark has a code printed on it which, when redeemed in the ebook section of our website, enables the owner of the paperback to buy a copy of the ebook at a fraction of its usual price – the discount is 80 or 90%!

Bookmarks
Bookmarks

The idea behind this initiative is that many of our readers have told us that they much prefer a printed copy of the book for everyday use.  However, sometimes, perhaps when away at a conference, our readers desperately want to quickly check something in a book, which they know they have on their bookshelf at home but didn’t bring with them. We are hoping that this will really help out in such instances by enabling cheap access to an already owned book from anywhere in the world.

The books involved in the trial are:

So look out for a special bookmark if you buy a copy of these paperbacks and do let us know if you think this is a good idea.  If it is successful we may well roll it out onto all our paperbacks in the future – watch this space!

60% off all ebooks in December

We are offering a special 60% discount off all Multilingual Matters / Channel View Publications ebooks for the month of December.

Just go to the ebook page on our website and enter the code DEC60 when you get to the checkout.

We hope that you enjoy this festive offer. Please feel free to pass this on to your colleagues.

Please email info@multilingual-matters.com for further information or if you have any problems.

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Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands
Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

For many people in the book trade, October is almost synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair and it is no different for Channel View/Multilingual Matters.  For us, the only change this year was that Tommi, Sarah and I decided that we would drive to the fair as we wanted to see some of Europe, rather than fly straight to Germany as usual.  On our way to Germany we visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium and had lunch in Luxembourg City before finally arriving in Boppard, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Frankfurt where we stayed a couple of nights.

The view towards the Moselle from our hike
The view towards the Moselle from our hike

We spent a day hiking in the hills between the Moselle and Rhine Valleys which was beautiful, especially as the trees were just beginning to change colour.  We walked about 12 miles and although Tommi had sensibly chosen paths that were mainly downhill (!) Sarah and I were still extremely tired afterwards – perhaps not the best preparation for a busy week of work!  It took a traditional German dinner, good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast before we’d recovered enough to drive across to Frankfurt where we met Elinor ready for the start of the book fair.

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The fair provides us with an annual opportunity to meet and discuss business with others working in the industry.  Tommi and Elinor meet with our sales reps who sell our books in less directly accessible markets, such as India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia and distributors and wholesalers who make sure that our books get to our customers, and that our customers know of our books.  Sarah meets with those involved in the production side of the industry, such as printers and typesetters, as well as an increasing number of people working on digital projects who she may collaborate with on ebooks and related matter.  Finally, I meet with representatives from foreign publishing houses who are interested in buying the translation rights to our titles for publication in languages other than English.

In between meetings we nibbled our usual selection of German snacks (we’re big fans of Rittersport and Gummi bears) and made the most of the sausages and schnitzel available for lunch!  We spent the evenings sampling yet more traditional German food and we enjoyed the annual drinks reception held by the Independent Publishers Guild, which we are members of.  As ever, we made the most of the opportunities that the fair offers us to meet colleagues from around the world; talk about what’s happening in the industry and discuss future projects and partnerships.  We have all made it safely back to the office and it won’t be long before it’s time to think about next year’s trip!

Laura