The Digital Press Year in Review

It’s been a relatively quiet year for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota with only three new titles, but this is the calm before the storm as the first month or two of 2020 will be the busiest in the history of the press. As a bit of a year end celebration, I thought I’d highlight what the press accomplished last year and preview what’s in store over the next few months.

The year started with a pretty important landmark from an adjacent publication to The Digital Press. North Dakota Quarterly with their publishing partner the University of Nebraska Press released volume 85 as both a print volume and a free digital download. This volume was underwritten in part by The Digital Press and the editor of NDQ is also the director of the Press.  When NDQ was on the brink of being shut down, The Digital Press offered to serve as a backstop for the venerable literary magazine and this gave it enough time to find a new home with University of Nebraska Press. So while The Digital Press can’t take credit for NDQ’s survival, it’s happy to celebrate its continued publication and to have shared in the collective effort to keep the oldest and finest little magazine on the Northern Plains alive. Subscribe to NDQ here. Download issue 85 here. Read more from NDQ here.

The first official volume from The Digital Press this year was the second volume from Epoiesen. This journal for creative engagement in history and archaeology is published online at Carleton University in Ottawa, but each winter, The Digital Press publishes an single-volume version of all the content released online during the past year. This not only does this offer a one-stop, paginated, version of the great Epoiesen content, but it also offers us a chance to explore the challenges and opportunities of moving content from a fluid web-based medium to a more rigid page and paper format. Check it out here.  

The next book to appear from The Digital Press in 2019 was Dakota Datebook: North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public. This book was a collaboration between The Press, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and the Writing, Editing, and Publishing program in the Department of English at UND. Students in an editing class reviewed over 2500 texts from beloved Dakota Datebook radio program and selected  365 of the best stories which David Haeselin edited into book form. In the four months since its release, Dakota Datebook has already become a best seller for both The Digital Press and Prairie Public Broadcasting. Check it out here

In December of this year, The Digital Press released Shawn Graham’s Failing Gloriously and Other Essays. This book documents Shawn Graham’s odyssey through the digital humanities and digital archaeology against the backdrop of the 21st-century university. We started The Digital Press to publish books like this. It’s already received some outstanding reviews in the  four weeks since its release and is on its way to being a leader in downloads and paper book sales. If you haven’t checked it out, grab a download today!  

This year wasn’t just about publishing new books though. Over the past 12 months, we’ve been really heartened by continued popularity of our entire catalogue. Eric Burin’s edited volume Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College, continues to attract sales on Amazon and his Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America  continues to attract critical attention. The Bakken Goes Boom and Mobilizing the Past are downloaded regularly and are working their way into scholarly literature.  The Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual is particularly popular in the late spring as projects gear up for summertime field seasons. The expanded digital version of The Beast has demonstrated that serious comics are well-suited for serious conversations.

The last five years of working on The Digital Press has started to seep into my professional life in new and unexpected ways. This fall, I submitted my first paper on digital publishing in archaeology based in part on my experiences. You can check it out here. I also made my way up to Brandon, Manitoba to discuss the work of The Digital Press in the public humanities at the Northern Great Plains History Conference. Here’s what I talked about there and what I learned in that panel.  The fun continues this week, when I represent The Digital Press at the 120th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Washington, DC on a panel called Humanities Publishing in Transition chaired by Deb Brown (more on that tomorrow or Thursday!).

2020 is poised to be a very exciting year for The Digital Press. Right now, we have three books in production all scheduled to appear in the first quarter of 2020. Volume 3 of Epoiesen  is almost ready to go following its usual early January release schedule. Yesterday, I started to work on the design and layout of Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018 edited by Kyle Conway. It’s the third book of an unofficial Bakken Trilogy from North Dakota authors. Finally, a volume edited by Sebastian Heath and based on the papers from a 2018 conference at ISAW at NYU on Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean (DATAM) will enter production later early next year. All three books will hopefully come out in time for summer reading lists. 

There are a couple more books churning away in the background which hopefully will appear in the fall making 2020 one of the busiest years for The Digital Press yet. This includes more collaboration with NDQ, some interesting new directions in digital publishing, and a continued commitment to 

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