Jennifer Howard has an interesting piece over on The Chronicle of Higher Education, in which she describes a number of academic efforts to publish short form ebooks instead of the usual weighty academic tome.
You don’t have to have a PhD. to figure out how this could be a win-win situation for all involved. Shorter works would take less time to wind their way through peer review, editing, and publishing. They would likely be less expensive for libraries. And they would take less time for readers to read and digest.
“Daniel Cohen,” writes Howard, “an associate professor of history at George Mason University and an advocate of revamping the academic-publishing system, calls this ‘right-sizing scholarship.'” Right-sizing indeed. Why should an academic labor to create a 300-page book when one half that size or less might be all that is required to make and sustain a thesis that would take too much room for a journal article.
I think this is a good direction for academic publishing, and scholarly presses like the Princeton University Press and the Stanford University Press, among others, should be applauded for leading the way.