Gavia Libraria

The nuts and bolts of DIY journals

There’s considerably less excuse for the ignorance of what it takes to run a small open-access journal (once, twice, thrice called out here) than was the case even a few days ago. The Loon considers this a mid-sized miracle.

First, consider this exposition by Stuart Shieber on a journal he’s helped run for years. His points about in-kind support are well-taken, and should be carefully considered by libraries pondering what kinds of in-kind support are most helpful. He also notes with sage honesty that computer science and its allied fields have a built-in advantage owing to their use of authoring tools that produce camera-ready copy.

Next, consider the cost argument again, carefully. The Loon can’t think of a single useful word to add to this.

Last, swim right over to your book-purveyor of choice to procure The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing. Journal editors, don’t let the title put you off; this is exactly the book you need if you’re serious about your do-it-yourself journal. It will bootstrap your entire production process, and give you just enough savvy to negotiate through the print-on-demand jungle if you’re inclined that way. This is quite a brilliant book, remarkably accessible considering its information density. The Loon doesn’t think anyone but Walt Crawford could have written it.

What Crawford and Shieber share that is often lacking in the quacking we’re currently seeing from the public-relations units and sockpuppets of the big-pig publishers is experience, plain and simple. (Well, and honesty, but more on that in a moment.) Both these gentlemen have been small-scale publishing for some years. Neither disdained publishing-production chores. They have, in other words, been there and done that.

The Loon will eat her own tailfeathers if even a quarter of the big-pigs’ PR flacks have ever touched page-layout software, much less (oh, dear, now the Loon really will date herself) a VariTyper or suchlike.

But then, it isn’t their job to discuss their experience with publishing production; it’s not their job to have any. It isn’t even their job to tell the truth, and often they do not (as the various Fakes on Twitter are gleefully celebrating). It’s their job to say whatever they think will advance their employers’ interests. Funny, how often truth does not do that.

The Loon thanks Crawford and Shieber for sharing their truths.

2 thoughts on “The nuts and bolts of DIY journals

  1. walt crawford

    Aw, shucks… To be lumped together with Stuart Shieber is a considerable honor, and to be spoken of in these terms by the Library Loon even more so.

    I’ve reposted the whole post on my own blog, with both attribution and appropriate citation in the Loon’s preferred format ([Loon, Library, “The nuts and bolts of DIY journals,” posted March 9, 2012 at Gavia Libraria.])

    Thanks!