Books Contain Multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing (2022 update) | Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

Books Contain Multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing is a three-part research and scoping report created to support the Experimental Publishing and Reuse Work Package (WP 6) of the COPIM project. It also serves as a resource for the scholarly community, especially for authors and publishers interested in pursuing more experimental forms of book publishing. This is the second version of this report (you can find the first version here), which includes feedback from our community, updates, as well as new additions to predominantly sections 2 (typology) and 3 (workflows, tools, and platforms). For this second version of Books Contain Multitudes we have pulled in resources from another research report we have previously published on reuse and interaction with open access books, from a series of Twitter threads that we have shared online, and from feedback received over this past year on the first version of this report. The resources from this research report and the Twitter threads as well as the feedback received are now incorporated in section 3 of this report.

COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs) is a 3-year project led by Coventry University as part of an international partnership of researchers, universities, librarians, open access (OA) book publishers and infrastructure providers and is funded by The Research England Development Fund and Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. COPIM is building community-owned, open systems and infrastructures to enable OA book publishing to flourish, delivering major improvements in the infrastructures used by OA book publishers and those publishers making a transition to OA. The project addresses the key technological, structural, and organisational hurdles—around funding, production, dissemination, discovery, reuse, and archiving—that are standing in the way of the wider adoption and impact of OA books. COPIM will realign OA book publishing away from competing commercial service providers to a more horizontal and cooperative knowledge-sharing approach.

As part of seven connected Work Packages, COPIM will work on 1) integrated capacity-building amongst presses; 2) access to and development of consortial, institutional, and other funding channels; 3) development and piloting of appropriate business models; 4) cost reductions achieved by economies of scale; 5) mutually supportive governance models; 6) integration into library, repository, and digital learning environments; 7) the re-use of and experimentation with OA books; 8) the effective and robust archiving of OA content; and 9) knowledge transfer to stakeholders through various pilots.

In the Experimental Publishing and Reuse Work Package we are looking at ways to more closely align existing software, tools and technologies, workflows and infrastructures for experimental publishing with the workflows of OA book publishers. To do so, we have produced a set of pilot projects of experimental books, which are being developed with the aid of these new tools and workflows and integrated into COPIM’s infrastructures. As part of these pilot projects, relationships have been established with open source publishing platforms, software providers, and projects focused on experimental long-form publications and outreach activities have been and will be conducted with OA book publishers and authors to further promote experimental publishing opportunities. We have also explored how non-experimental OA books are (re)used by the scholarly community. As such, we have examined those technologies and cultural strategies that are most effective in promoting OA book content interaction and reuse. This includes building communities around content and collections via annotations, comments, and post-publication review (e.g., via the social annotation platform to enable more collaborative forms of knowledge production. To achieve this, we have mapped both existing technological solutions as well as cultural barriers and best practices with respect to reuse as part of a research report on Promoting and Nurturing Interactions with Open Access Books: Strategies for Publishers and Authors.

We are also producing an online resource and toolkit, or Compendium, to promote and support the publication of experimental books. The ExPub Compendium will be an online resource which provides an easy-to-browse catalogue of experimental publishing tools, practices, examples of experimental books, and the relationships between them. This report has been produced to support b

Sustaining and Reimagining the Monograph | AUPresses Digital Digest

by Lisa Bayer

Lisa Bayer is AUPresses President (2021-2022) and the director of the University of Georgia Press. This article is based on her remarks to the National Information Standards Organization’s 2021 Humanities Roundtable, “The Monograph in an Evolving Humanities Ecosystem.”

Nature is trialling transparent peer review — the early results are encouraging

“In an attempt to change things, Nature Communications has since 2016 been encouraging authors to publish peer-review exchanges. In February 2020, and to the widespread approval of Twitter’s science community, Nature announced that it would offer a similar opportunity. Authors of new manuscript submissions can now have anonymous referee reports — and their own responses to these reports — published at the same time as their manuscript. Those who agree to act as reviewers know that both anonymous reports and anonymized exchanges with authors might be published. Referees can also choose to be named, should they desire.

A full year’s data are now in, and the results are encouraging. During 2021, nearly half (46%) of authors chose to publish their discussions with reviewers, although there is variation between disciplines (see ‘Peer review opens up’). Early data suggest more will do so in 2022. This is a promising trend. And we strongly encourage more researchers to take this opportunity to publish their exchanges. Last year, some 69% of Nature Communication’s published research articles were accompanied by anonymous peer-review reports together with author–reviewer exchanges, including manuscripts in life sciences (73% of published papers), chemistry (59%), physics (64%) and Earth sciences (77%)….

The benefits to research are huge. Opening up peer review promotes more transparency, and is valuable to researchers who study peer-review systems. It is also valuable to early-career researchers more broadly. Each set of reports is a real-life example, a guide to how to provide authors with constructive feedback in a collegial manner….”

Experimental Publishing VI – Critique, Intervention, And Speculation, March 24, 5pm (GMT) | Post-Publishing

A symposium with talks by Winnie Soon (Aarhus University) and Roopika Risam (Salem State University) 

17:00-19:00pm GMT March 24  Centre for Postdigital Cultures (online) 

Registration (free):

This is the sixth in a series of symposia hosted by the Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) exploring contemporary approaches to experimental publishing. Over the course of the series, we will ask questions about the role and nature of experimentation in publishing, about ways in which experimental publishing has been formulated and performed in the past, and ways in which it shapes our publishing imaginaries at present. This series aims to conceptualise and map what experimental publishing is or can be and to explore what lies behind our aims and motivations to experiment through publishing. As such, it forms the first activity within the CPC’s Post-Publishing programme, an initiative committed to exploring iterative and processual forms of publishing and their role in reconceptualising publishing as an integral part of the research and writing process, i.e. as that which inherently shapes it. 


Born and raised in Hong Kong, Winnie Soon is an artistic coder and researcher interested in queering the intersections of technical and artistic practices, engaging with topics like queer code and coding, digital censorship, experimental diagramming and software publishing. Researching in the areas of software studies and computational practices, Winnie is the co-initiator of the art community Code & Share [ ] and they are the author of two books titled “ Aesthetic Programming: A Handbook of Software Studies” (with Geoff Cox) and “Fix My Code” (with Cornelia Sollfrank). They are also the co-editor of the Software Studies Book Series (MIT Press). Winnie is currently based in Denmark and working as Associate Professor at Aarhus University. More:

Roopika Risam is Chair of Secondary and Higher Education and Associate Professor of Education and English at Salem State University. She is the author of New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy. Risam is also co-editor of The Digital Black Atlantic, South Asian Digital Humanities, and Intersectionality in Digital Humanities. Among her projects, she co-edits the journal Reviews in Digital Humanities, which peer reviews digital scholarly outputs, with Jennifer Guiliano, and co-directs Reanimate, an intersectional feminist publishing collective, which publishes digital editions of writing by women and women of color in media industries, with Carol Stabile. Risam is co-vice president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, with Quinn Dombrowski, and directs the Digital Ethnic Futures Consortium (DEFCon), a network for teaching and research at the intersections of digital humanities and ethnic studies, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 


Experimental publishing can be positioned as an intervention, a mode of critique, and a tool of speculation. It is a way of thinking about writing and publishing today that has at its centre a commitment to questioning and breaking down distinctions between practice and theory, criticality and creativity, and between the scholarly and the artistic. 

In this series of events we propose to explore contemporary approaches to experimental publishing as: 

an ongoing critique of our current publishing systems and practices, deconstructing existing hegemonies and questioning the fixtures in publishing to which we have grown accustomed—from the book as a stable object to single authorship a

Multimodal Publishing – First International Symposium, February 23-25, 2022 (in person & online)

The First International Symposium on Scholarly Multimodal Publishing will be held at the University of Victoria Legacy Art Gallery from February 23-25, 2022 in Victoria, BC. Publishing multimodal research (video, sound clips, graphic stories, etc.) can be challenging for scholarly journals. There is no standard for guiding the peer review processes of these multimedia texts. It is also unclear how Open Access platforms (i.e. OJS) can technically support multimodal publications. This symposium aims at reflecting on how non-standard innovative scholarly works can be published and disseminated in scholarly journals. 

During this two-day event, experts, scholars, librarians and graduate students will be invited to share their knowledge, expertise and ideas about how to develop standards to guide peer review processes of multimodal submissions, as well as to identify the technical challenges and opportunities afforded by Open Access production and publishing platforms. 

Spineless Wonders: The Global Book roundtable | Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

During the Spineless Wonders Conference on 12 November 2021, Patrick Hart and Rebekka Kiesewetter discussed the ways in which scholarly OA output — and modes of engagement with it outside the Anglo-American global North — articulate with questions of the global, globalisation, and globality.

This is a transcript of our initial contribution to the roundtable, which was chaired by Dr Heather H. Yeung (University of Dundee) and Prof. Tim Brennan (Manchester School of Art). The other contributors were Prof. Tom Mole (Durham University) and Prof. Ashleigh Harris (Uppsala University).

NextGen Books: A TIB Project Site Launch | TIB-Blog

NextGen Books brings together two existing Open Science Lab R&D threads — book sprints and semantic publishing pipelines.

The goal of the project is to support research and services in new methods and open-source infrastructures for making the future book.

NextGen Books is part of the Open Science Lab’s contribution to the NFDI4Culture Consortium’s work on enhanced publications.

Modern digital infrastructures have neglected the book. The challenge is how to connect these new technologies and renew how the book is made and read. One strength of the book is its age-old function of being a condensing point of complex or fast-moving knowledge domains. NextGen Books looks at the different roles of the book in the research life cycle and how to improve its functionality. Our focus is on how to apply technologies such as: multi-format pipelines, computational publishing, and the application of open standards.

Data Books & Data Bodies: Performing Archival Data differently | Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

Politics of Patents, or POP, is a research project headed by Kat Jungnickel looking at 200 years of clothing patents to reveal some of the hidden ideas, practices and histories that are inscribed into people’s dress. Working with over 370,000 patents, Kat and her team have unearthed the stories and designs of many lesser-known inventors who pushed and struggled to change how people’s dress addresses political needs and desires for liberation, safety, containment and expression. The archive of patents in this work is not just a record of what was, but a resource that opens up and expands normative understandings of the world at different times. 

One of the project’s questions is how large amounts of seemingly dry and dusty data can be brought into experience, on bodies, to literally craft different bodies and possibilities. They are exploring this by combining research with reconstruction; making and wearing a collection of historic costumes from the archive. The question speaks to the work of Julien McHardy and his colleagues Rebekka Kiesewetter, Janneke Adema, Gary Hall, Tobias Steiner, and Simon Bowie at COPIM’s experimental publishing group, exploring books as intermediaries that can anchor and hold previously published data, text and analysis as well as collectives and practices.

At COPIM’s experimental publishing group, we’re especially interested in the book as a dynamic conduit between archive and interpretation. We think of books that relate digital archival material, and data to interpretation as Data Books. We are interested in where the archive ends and the book starts, and how new technologies and open copyright regimes allow blurring that boundary between data and analysis in productive ways. With that in mind, we experiment with relating databases, previously published sources, narrative and analytical storytelling in new ways. The book, we explore as a site of archive/reading/writing interference; an interface for bringing data into shared experience; transforming data from disembodied information to situated, embodied, relational, and negotiated knowledges.


Tentative Florilegium: Experiments & Recipes for ReWriting Books | Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

Digital publishing tools and non-restrictive copyright regimes make it possible to incorporate source texts and data in ways that go beyond conventional citation practices, re-assessing the relationships between publications and their sources while providing full attribution. In the summer of 2021, COPIM’s Experimental Publishing Group hosted a mini-workshop series on ReUsing Data and ReUsing Texts to explore this potential. The ReUsing Data workshop experimented with how scholars and new kinds of data books might assemble, relate, expose and perform data differently. 

The ReUsing Texts workshop focused on how scholars might gather, engage, (dis)appropriate, remix and rewrite existing texts. The Combinatorial Books: Gathering Flowers project, set up by COPIM, Open Humanities Press and Gabriela Méndez Cota explores rewriting as a way of writing books. We co-hosted the workshop with Gabriela’s team of scholars, technologists, and students from the Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México and their work inspired the event. Gabriela and her team set out to collaboratively ‘rewrite’ Tondeur and Marder’s book The Chernobyl Herbarium: Fragments of an Exploded Consciousness (Open Humanities Press, 2016).


Adema (2021) Versioning and Iterative Publishing | Commonplace

Adema, J. (2021). Versioning and Iterative Publishing. Commonplace.

Change-logs or revision histories are increasingly integrated — both in the back and frontend — into platforms that accommodate collaborative and experimental forms of online academic writing in the humanities. A well-known feature from platforms such as Wikipedia and Github or Gitlab, additionally PubPub (the platform that hosts the Commonplace and is regularly used for humanities journal and book publishing) launched its Activity Dashboard recently, which provides a filterable log of changes made to a ‘pub’ or ‘collection.’ A version history remains available for readers to explore earlier releases, while a ‘pub history feature’ allows authors or communities the ability to return to or reinstall previous pub drafts.

Several publishers and platform providers have started to experiment with and accommodate more processual forms of publishing within the humanities. Next to PubPub, The University of Minnesota Press in collaboration with CUNY’s Digital Scholarship Lab, have been doing so for example as part of the Manifold Scholarship publishing program for the production of what they call ‘iterative’ texts or publications, where material such as datasets, sound, video, and other digital content can be added to a publication-in-progress, in an ongoing-way as it develops. Foreseeing as they state ‘an emerging hybrid environment for scholarship, Manifold develops, alongside the print edition of a book, an alternate form of publication that is networked and iterative, served on an interactive, open-source platform.’

In an open access environment, there is both more opportunity for and (perhaps) interest in versioning humanities research and in showcasing revision. Yet this increased focus on accommodating versioning as part of the publishing process is not new, and in many ways, it emulates print publishing workflows. Revised, corrected, and updated editions as well as reprints have always been commonplace in a print context too. Disciplines such as textual criticism have dedicated themselves to the different versions and editions of works as part of the creation of critical editions, to engage with the textual variation of literary and academic works in a print environment.

Let’s experiment: join us for a BooOkmArks event next Tuesday, June 29, 2021 (16:00 CEST/ 15:00 BST/10:00 EDT) | Open Access Books Network

The next event in the ‘BoOkmArks: Open Conversations About OA Books’ series will be held via this Zoom link on June 29th at 16:00 CEST/ 15:00 BST/10:00 EDT, when we will interview Janneke Adema, Marcell Mars, and Tobias Steiner about their report “Books Contain Multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing.” As an introduction to the session, we invite you to read their blog post on the report here.

If you have questions for Janneke, Marcell, and Tobias, please add them to the comments section below so they can be included in the conversation on 29th June — and join us at the event if you can!