IVP - Addenda & Errata - Publishing Archives

August 9, 2011

The Editor As Detective

Doesn’t the publisher have a fact checker? That was the nub of a critical review of an article in one of our Black Dictionaries years ago. And since the fact checker in that case would have had to have been me, it made me pause and think. Before it really annoyed me.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 8:29 AM

July 13, 2011

Brain Accessories

Some time ago I came across a blog on the notion that our humanly created environment is an extension of our brains. Here is an excerpt:

I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of manipulating our environment to extend our brains. I suppose it all started with early humans carving on cave walls as a way to store historical data. Now we have ebooks, computers, and cell phones to store our memories. And we have schools to program our brains. But it goes much deeper than that. Even a house is a device for storing data. Specifically, a house stores data on how it was built. A skilled builder can study a house and build another just like it.

Everything we create becomes a de facto data storage device and brain accessory. A wall can be a physical storage device for land survey data, it can be a reminder of history, and it can be a trigger of personal memories.

A business is also a way to store data. As a restaurant owner, I was fascinated at how employees came and went, but their best ideas often stayed with the business, especially in the kitchen. The restaurant was like a giant data filter. The bad ideas were tested and deleted while the good ideas stayed, most often without being written down.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 4:19 PM

June 30, 2011

Not Another Commentary!

Do we need any more commentaries? I recently came across this comment at the opening of D. A. Carson’s review of J. Ramsey Michaels’s NICNT commentary on John:

When my students ask if we really need yet another commentary on such-and-such a biblical book, I sometimes tell them that, even if we do not need another commentary, we can always do with more commentary writers. What I mean is that we must constantly produce people who wrestle with the biblical texts, or pretty soon no one will be able to do it very well. Normally great commentators arise out of a plethora of people writing commentaries. This is, of course, a polite way of conceding that many commentaries are not all that memorable. They contribute little by way of freshness, genuine insight, or mature scholarship. They are simply the price to pay for major contributions.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 9:44 AM

December 18, 2010

Now about that Festschrift and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 5)

But what about that Festschrift? Well, I don’t want to say we’ll never publish a Festschrift! And of course I wouldn’t deny yours exactly. And for full disclosure (really!), right now I am trying to finish up an essay for a Festschrift, and—enjoy the irony—it’s a Festschrift I turned down as an editor.

Continue reading "Now about that Festschrift and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 5)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 9:55 AM

December 16, 2010

Now about that Festschrift and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 4)

Okay, so you’ve got your proposal for a killer app of an academic book and you’ve identified the right publishers. What else do you need to know? Well, the next thing is something you should have already been working on!

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Posted by Dan Reid at 1:16 PM | Comments (3) are closed

December 14, 2010

Now about that Festschrift and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 3)

If you write academic books (broadly defined), what strategies might you employ for successful publishing in our new environment? Here are two potential strategies. (I’ll take up two more in part 4 —this will end up to be a five-part rather than three-part series!)

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Posted by Dan Reid at 8:08 AM

December 9, 2010

Now about that Festschrift . . . and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 2)

The future of publishing is not entirely bleak.

Some corrections and cautions are in order.

Print is not dead. Not yet. Not by far. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek (a top-selling business book for at least three years), reported that in his end-of-2009 royalty statement, e-books (of all sorts) accounted for only 1.6 percent of total units sold. But things have been developing rapidly even since 12 months ago.

Continue reading "Now about that Festschrift . . . and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 2)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 10:41 AM | Comments (8) are closed

December 1, 2010

Now about that Festschrift . . . and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 1)

Our academic obsession with books was underscored for me a few weeks ago when a NT scholar confessed to me that he had taken ten volumes of rabbinic literature along with him on his honeymoon. He admitted this was a sad commentary on his life at the time.

Sad? Frankly, I thought it was pathetic!

These days he could have taken along the entire corpus of rabbinic texts on his Kindle or iPad!

Continue reading "Now about that Festschrift . . . and other things you need to know about the future of publishing (Part 1)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 5:01 PM | Comments (3) are closed

October 1, 2010


Speaking as a male editor, my work life is punctuated with temptations. There are the dull, familiar and routine tasks that are required to keep books and major projects on schedule. This is the narrow and steep way of the editorial life. But then there are the delicious intellectual strumpets. They arrive in my inbox with a flourish of bells, a come-hither pose and a flutter of batted eyelashes.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 10:14 AM | Comments (2) are closed

January 6, 2010

The Next C. S. Lewis!

Would the next C. S. Lewis please stand up? I’d like to meet you and sign you up for your next book or ten.

A number of years ago a theologian friend of mine was hailed as “the next C. S. Lewis” (or some such wording) in a review of one of his books in a prestigious religious journal.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 9:35 AM | Comments (1) are closed

November 16, 2009

What I’ll Be Doing At SBL

Later this week I’ll be traveling to New Orleans to attend the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Institute for Biblical Research. I calculate this is my twenty-third consecutive trip as an editor. I have a number of appointments with authors I’m working with and hoping to work with. I’ve got a few sessions I want to go to. There will be friends old and new to meet, and no lack of schmoozing and catching up. And naturally, there are some books I want to buy from other publishers at their (mostly) generous conference discounts. But as I’ve reflected on the upcoming trip this week, there is a consistent subtext beneath this whole conference gig, and it can be summed up in one word: context.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 11:42 AM | Comments (1) are closed

October 14, 2009

How Do You Get to Barnes & Noble? Platform, Platform, Platform

If you are an academic and you feel that general, or “popular,” authors haven’t done sufficient homework to write on their topic, and you can do it better, or if you just have a great idea for a general book, you need to step up to the plate—well before you write that book.

Before working on the book you need to apply yourself to building your platform for reaching that general audience. If the publishing gatekeepers don’t know who you are, you aren’t going to get your show into Carnegie Hall, no matter how much you’ve practiced. You need to work the local spots, the equivalent of your local clubs and county fairs, and earn your creds with the “popular” audience. (An important benefit of this is that you can learn how people outside academia think and what questions they ask—which can dramatically refocus your writing.)

That notion of the learned doctor, taking a break from monographs and journal articles to dash off a tract for the times or a meditation on life—while the publisher does the rest (you know, promotion, advertising and that kind of stuff)—is gone. If it ever was here. The watchword today is platform.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 9:35 AM

May 8, 2009

Any Lessons from History?

A prominent evangelical theologian and apologist at a prominent evangelical seminary published a book with a prominent evangelical press proposing that abortion is ethically acceptable in certain cases, such as “mongolism,” or Down Syndrome. Among other things, he says “Artificial abortion … results in the taking of a potential [emphasis his] human life. Such abortion is not murder, because the embryo is not fully human—it is an undeveloped person… . If a life must be stopped, it is obviously better to stop it before it ever really gets started.” I am not making this up.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 9:18 AM

March 26, 2009

Quiet! Expert Thinking

I like Nicholas Kristof’s column on “Learning How to Think” in the NYT today (3/26/09). It’s about “experts” and their track record for, well, getting things wrong. Referring to Philip Tetlock’s research as reported in his book Expert Political Judgment (2005), Kristof sums it up by saying, “The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses—the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board.” That confirms my intuitions about the current economic expertise being served up by the media. And here I thought it was just my cynicism at work.

But what caught my attention was this:

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Posted by Dan Reid at 10:43 AM

March 11, 2009

The Great Festschrift Makeover

The Festschrift is a peculiarly academic genre. As most readers of this blog are likely to know, it’s a celebratory publication in honor of a scholar, usually presented on or near their retirement (age sixty-five seems to be a classic Festschrift moment). In a Festschrift, academic peers and students honor a scholar by writing him some cracking-good essays on a topic close to his scholarly heart. At least that’s the idea.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 4:16 PM

February 12, 2009

Let Your Bookshelves Be Your Gardens

There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times on a collection of Hebrew texts on auction at Sotheby’s: thirteen thousand Hebrew books and manuscripts called the Valmadonna Trust Library and collected by one man, Jack V. Lunzer. It’s an interesting article with some good photos and comments on Lunzer’s perspective on his collection. In light of my earlier reflections on the announcement of Kindle 2, a couple of things in this article caught my fancy:

“Make books your companions” read the words of a 12th-century Spanish Jewish scholar, Judah Ibn Tibbon, translated on one gallery wall. “Let your bookshelves be your gardens.”

I can imagine the day: “Grandpa,” young Robert asked, looking up from his Kindle 20, “what are bookshelves?”

Another gallery is inscribed with a blessing written by a Jewish scholar from 16th-century Prague, David Gans, that may be unique in the world’s religions: “Blessed be He… Who has magnified His grace with a great invention, one that is useful for all inhabitants of the world, there is none beside it, and nothing can equal it among all wisdoms and inventions since God created man on the earth: The Printing Press.”

Don’t you love it? Will we ever want to say that about Kindle? Well, I guess some are saying it now. But does it ring true against the backdrop of Lunzer’s magnificent collection?

Well, think about that. I’ve got to get back to work on some fall plantings for your garden.

Posted by Dan Reid at 7:57 AM

February 10, 2009

Kindling Thoughts on Books

This week of February 9 (see here and here ), sees Amazon’s announcement of the imminent release of Kindle 2—thinner, crisper, memorier and synchrier. It’s a sleek looking device, and the consumer in me wants to have one. The Seattleite in me wants to stand proud for Amazon’s prowess. I imagine how my life would be better, so much better, if I had one of those Kindle 2s. And at IVP we’re ramping up our Kindle-ready books. I’m all for it.

But another—older, maybe wiser, yet still susceptible to the strumpets of consumption—part of me says, “I’d only use it for certain books. Like that big, thick Ronald White A. Lincoln biography I got at Costco last weekend, or Obama’s Dreams from My Father that I picked up at Costco the week before! Once I’ve read them, do I really want to store them in “physical” space? Maybe they could smolder away into digital ash on my Kindle and that might be fine.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 8:11 AM | Comments (3) are closed

January 7, 2009

Foaming at the Blurbs

There’s been quite a kerfuffle out there in blogdom here and here and here over Scot McKnight’s endorsement of N. T. Wright’s forthcoming book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (due June 2009). You can read the endorsements, or blurbs, here. Now, from a publisher’s and an author’s standpoint, that’s a pretty nice spread of folks urging you to read the book, whether you agree or not. And my friend Scot, who knows how to blurb (and now saves his ammo for a select few, salted his endorsement with his considered opinion of some of Wright’s “neo-Reformed” opponents!

We’ve been expecting some fur to fly when the book comes out. But this much over just a blurb? Well, while we do try to be high minded, even handed and above the fray, I can’t help saying that this sort of thing warms the cockles of a publisher’s heart. And it provides an interesting window onto a sector of evangelicalism.

(And thanks to Mike Bird and a few others for stepping into the bloggy fray with the gift of reason and clarity.)

Dan Reid

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 5:28 PM | Comments (2) are closed

November 13, 2008

A Seventeen-Year Alert

[A note to our regular visitors: Our blogs have been "down" for several days while we've been moving them to a different platform. Comments during that period apparently dropped into cyberabyss. If you want to reach this blog directly, here is the address: addenda-errata.ivpress.com. Sorry for the inconvenience.]

If you think the Homeland Security Advisory System has been going a long time, at seven years, how about IVP’s Academic Alert, which several months ago passed its seventeenth anniversary? My colleague Jim Hoover, after reading the page proofs of this fall’s edition, exclaimed that he couldn’t believe it was that old. I agreed. It seems like just a few years ago that we hatched the idea and made it a reality. But the first Academic Alert appeared in the spring of ’92.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 9:07 AM

April 1, 2008

IVP Academic’s Carbon-Offset Program

Here is some news that we want Addenda & Errata readers to be the first to hear.

Building on IVP’s participation in the Green Press Initiative, IVP Academic will soon be introducing its carbon-offset program for purchasers of our books.

IVP Academic is aware that in providing readers with print books, we are contributing to deforestation and the depletion of one of earth’s most valuable carbon-absorbing resources: trees. With the scientific evidence for human-induced global warming mounting, we want to do our part in addressing this issue.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 12:02 AM | Comments (8) are closed

March 28, 2008

Pity the Futurologist!

A futurologist is bound to be increasingly frustrated with publishing—even in this day of desk-top publishing and on-demand printing.

First, we must state the obvious: the futurologist trades in identifying and speaking to and about future trends. Consequently, futurologists want their books out there now, while their views are still “future.” But the book publishing industry also wants to know ahead of time what the future holds in the way of books.

Catalogers, distributors, industry magazines want a manuscript—no, better yet, actual page proofs and the final cover—of a book several months ahead so they can get their catalogs, flyers and magazines out several months in advance of the books themselves so retailers and wholesalers will place their orders weeks ahead of time so the catalogers and distributors can ship and sell (and bill!) lots of orders immediately when the books arrive in their warehouses. And every year they seem to want to reach their hands deeper into the future of publishing seasons.

This means reaching further back into the publisher’s “forthcoming” lists. In other words, the marketer wants to be the futurologist, and that future needs to be a sure thing! Something they can hold in their hands.

Meanwhile, the futurologist is saying, But if it’s not fresh, it might be out of date! And I can only see so far forward. So the futurologist must be more prescient than ever. There’s a surcharge being levied on his visionary craft. He or she can’t just be telling us what’s going to happen in twelve months (that’s when the book will be published and the topic might be history by then), they must be telling us what’s going to happen in twenty-four months.

It’s doubly ironic, since these days one of the things they want to tell us is how and in what ways things will be moving faster than they are now—except they are bound by the slowness of publishing and marketing. Pity the futurologists. They either need a quick and dirty publisher or another medium entirely. Probably the latter. Like a blog. But that might soon, if not already, be so yesterday.

Posted by Dan Reid at 12:23 PM

March 7, 2008

The 6 x 9 Canvas

As I was reading the manuscript, I knew I had stumbled on the opening line for the back cover of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ: “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. . . . In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Proud of my discovery, I worked up my back cover copy from that opening line. It was one of my earliest efforts—maybe my first—as a beginning editor writing back cover copy.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 10:44 AM | Comments (2) are closed

January 31, 2008

But Should We Publish It?

In my previous post I offered a description of Luxenberg’s method of studying the Qur’an and his provocative thesis. Suppose I am offered a book proposal that propounds a new thesis such as Luxenberg’s, and I work for an academic press that publishes broadly in religious studies. And just to clear the decks of distraction, let’s say there is no real threat from Islamic radicals if we do publish the book.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 10:10 AM | Comments (1) are closed

January 13, 2008

Bypassing the Cape Horn of Editorial Persuasion

So why is it that I think getting a book on the spiritual dimensions of adventure past our publishing committee would be the Cape Horn of editorial achievement?

1. Niche. It’s not our publishing niche. This is a book for a New York publishing house.
2. Market. The potential readers of this book in the market we reach is not substantial enough to float the book.
3. Platform. The book would need either a high-profile adventurer as its author/editor and/or essays from several such folks.
4. Probably theology! At least this would be the case if we were to spread the net broadly and let folks speak from their experiences. We would probably get a hodge-podge of religious/spiritual ideas. Still fascinating. But outside our publishing mission.

Each of the points above calls out for further explication, but I’ll not belabor them here. Instead I’ll refer you to the best continuing education in Christian publishing on the web: Andy Unedited.

Skip Cape Horn. Take the Strait of Magellan.

Posted by Dan Reid at 2:26 PM

December 13, 2007

Back to the Book

Did I mention that I'm a believer in books? I mean real, ink-on-paper books as opposed to electronic facsimiles. Over the years I have enjoyed putting forth the argument that people like the tactile, three-dimensional, artifactual nature of books--and thus the book has a future.

The New York Times has an article today on how some web "books" are becoming print books. I enjoyed the comments from one person, who said he "wanted something I could put on my shelf.” And added, “There’s nothing like holding the weight and smelling the paper.”

Is this a generational thing? I think not (read the article). After all, what generation came up with the term "cool stuff"?

Posted by Dan Reid at 9:16 AM

November 13, 2007

One Flew Over

It seems that everyone wants a say about the new book There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheists Changed His Mind. It started with publication of the book last month by Harper One about Antony Flew, a British philosopher who wrote a pivotal essay in 1950 called “Theology and Falsification,” originally presented at the Oxford Socratic Club chaired by C. S. Lewis. Reprinted many times over, it has been a guide for atheists ever since.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:14 AM | Comments (2) are closed

April 26, 2007

On Boiling the Ocean

I recently came across the term “boil the ocean.” It was at the time of the release of Microsoft’s new operating system Vista. Scott Rosenberg in the The Washington Post was talking about the challenge and pitfalls of writing software: "too often, software teams get lost in what are known in the field as "boil-the-ocean" projects -- vast schemes to improve everything at once. That can be inspiring, but in the end we might prefer that they hunker down and make incremental improvements to rescue us from bugs and viruses and make our computers easier to use. Idealistic software developers love to dream about world-changing innovations; meanwhile, we wait and wait for all the potholes to be fixed."

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Posted by Dan Reid at 6:38 PM | Comments (1) are closed

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