Journal Editors and Book Editors

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Every edition of the Australian Economic Review has a section called ‘For The Student’- the latest one looks at the world of economic publishing ; From Manuscript to Publication: A Brief Guide for Economists (freely available online for now) by John Creedy;

“Journal editors are not selected according to their knowledge of the printing and publishing business, or even their administrative abilities. Many therefore know little, and care even less, about those aspects. If journal editors face no sanctions, have little knowledge of the technical and commercial aspects of publishing, and have no financial incentives regarding outcomes, it is inevitable that factors such as power, influence and ego play a role, thereby damaging the selection process. Many editors nevertheless do provide a valued and disinterested service to the scholarly community. It is perhaps surprising how well the system generally works, though there are huge variations in editorial standards.

Book editors are, in contrast, paid professionals whose remuneration depends on the sales of books they commission. There is thus a clear market sanction. There is indeed much mobility within the industry, as successful editors are ‘headhunted’. Book editors typically know the publishing business well from many points of view, having often ‘worked their way’ through a number of departments.

The behaviour patterns of the different editors are therefore, not surprisingly, quite distinct. Journal editors simply wait for submissions to arrive. With limited space available, emphasis is given to the selection process involving the rejection of a large proportion of submitted papers. Editors are generally, though not always, well known and often highly regarded academics. They are confident of their own ability to make judgements regarding the quality of papers submitted, though an important role is played by referees, as discussed below. Furthermore, an editor may consult an editorial board before making a final decision, but this is not common. Journal editors have little, and merely distant, contact with authors. Given the search for original highquality papers, past reputations of authors typically count for little.”


What are the top economics journals? The American Economic Review and Journal of Political Economy are the two most important journals according to Tyler Cowen.

Broader, Deeper; But four new journals will appear, about two years from now. Their titles have only just been announced (pending a copyright check). The plan is to call each the American Economic Journal: the subtitle to follow the colon. It's clear that the formulators hope the new "aggregate field journals" will render old boundaries more porous, and cause new distinctions to evolve.

Tom Maschler - the writer's business; Today, what do publishers want, or the secrets of the book trade. Tom has been a publisher all his working life—revered for being chairman of Jonathan Cape when it was the best literary publishing house in Britain. He introduced Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Thomas Pynchon, Joseph Heller, Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut to British readers. Doris Lessing, John Fowles, Arnold Wesker, Roald Dahl, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, and Salman Rushdie were also part of the Cape line-up during his reign. As the story goes, booksellers would simply buy whatever he had to offer just because of his reputation. But since he retired from the publishing world he for the first time went over to the other side of the fence and wrote a book. It's called Publisher and he wrote it because he was recruited by an agent. Listen to the podcast.

Book Recommendation; Writing for the Information Age: Elements of Style for the 21st Century by Bruce Ross-Larson

Note: I’ve classified this post under a new category called ‘Academy’ with a view to present primers and ‘explainers’ to Econ 101 students. I would also suggest reading regularly the 5 blogs - Greg Mankiw’s, Austrian Economists, Aplia Econ blog and EconLog.


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on June 14, 2006 11:29 PM.

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