The LSE Review of books – real time reviews

Posted by Brenda Sharp, Assistant Editor

The London School of Economics (LSE) Review of Books was launched in April 2012 in a move to reduce the time delay in getting social science books reviewed, with free access for all being of note. The key feature of the LSE Review of Books is the publishing of daily reviews of academic books across the social sciences. Patrick Dunleavy, the General Editor of the LSE Review of Books, is clear that this ‘real time review’ of books provides numerous benefits to publishers, authors, and universities in facilitating the ability to engage with a wider audience, not only within academia but in all areas of civil society.  Patrick’s ultimate aim is for publishers to provide a digital version of the text in advance of publication in order for the review to be published on the same day as the book.

LSEFollowing on from the success of the initiative the LSE Review of Books Awards event was held on Thursday 16th May in the Shaw Library situated in the Old Building at the LSE.  The Awards were a thank you to the many reviewers who have written for the Review of Books, and also provided an arena for the many people present to talk about books and publishing and to enjoy the delicious lunch provided by the University.  There were around fifty people in attendance including publishers, academics, and reviewers and, after a short speech by criminal law expert Professor Nicola Lacey from the University of Oxford, the Awards Ceremony was underway.

Each award was sponsored by a publisher and included Princeton University Press, Palgrave MacMillan, Routledge, and Polity Press.  The Ashgate Prize for Most-Read Review in Architecture and Urban Studies was won by Ben Campkin for his review of ‘City, Street and Citizen’ by Suzanne Hall published by Routledge.  Speaking to Suzanne, she was immensely pleased to have a review of her book published so quickly in an accessible and free format.  As we are very aware reviews of academic books are often sited within journals which, in most cases, require payment and may be published many months after publication.  The future for academic publishing in this digital age is certainly a challenge but it may just be that real time reviews support academic publishers to exchange knowledge and scholarship for the twenty first century.

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