With a short gap in my schedule I thought I ought to have a quick revamp of some of this site. Back in May this year, publisher Bloomsbury acquired one of my clients, I. B. Tauris. While the small company is being assimilated into the larger it seems as though their website has gone the way of good things, and all the links I had to books I had worked on on my indexing experience pages were broken. So I’ve linked all those books to Amazon pages, and in due course if they appear on the Bloomsbury site I’ll be putting links to there. Although Amazon offers ‘look inside’ so you can sometimes see the work I’ve done, I think it is fairer to link through to the publisher, and then you can choose if you want to go to Amazon. Some publishers, such as Equinox, allow you to download the index for free. I have also made some more subject pages for my indexing experience, as a few titles seemed to clump together nicely.
My splendid colleague Ruth Ellis has put together a storyline for the event. It includes things that happened in the run up and on the day.
The run up to the day started with our sister society in Australia and New Zealand posting some pictures of their members. Catchy tagline – Life is easier with an index.
Whitefox covered the event in their newsletter:
On the actual day, SI President Sam Leith welcomed everyone:
The talks were given,
- Good indexing practice: how indexers work. Ann Kingdom (Chair, Society of
- Good indexing practice: training, qualifications, commissioning and index
assessment. Ann Hudson (Training Director, Society of Indexers)
- Indexing software: flexible functionality. Ruth Ellis (Social Media Coordinator,Society of Indexers)
- Embedded indexing: a brief what, why and how. Paula Clarke Bain (Marketing
- Director, Society of Indexers)
- Embedding to ebook. Jan Worrall (Training Course Coordinator, Society of Indexers)
Tea was drunk, questions were asked, and the team stood for a photograph.
I wonder what we’ll do next year?
The second international #indexday is on Thursday 29 March 2018.
The UK-based Society of Indexers are holding an event for publishers at the Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square, London, from 12 noon to 4 pm on 29 March. This event will include a welcome from the honorary president, Sam Leith, and sessions and demonstrations by SI members. These will focus on current indexing practices and digital developments regarding embedded and linked indexes for ebooks. There will be an ‘ask the indexers’ Q&A panel session and opportunities to mingle.
Places are limited so book your ticket for the event now. The price of £30 includes all sessions, lunch and afternoon refreshments.
However, by the time this event starts our colleagues from ANZSI in Australia and New Zealand will have done a number of things to raise awareness of indexing. There will be photo shoots in Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney; presentations in Sydney, a gathering in New Zealand and possibly a podcast too. More details here.
Many newspapers, journals and organisations put out lists of ‘books of the year’ in the pre-Christmas period. While the process is all about selling more books (and who thinks that’s a bad thing), it also recognises good solid book production values. The lists usually include one or more non-fiction categories, ranging from cookery to science, history and memoir to sport and beyond. These books need good solid indexes to complete the package so it is great to see so many titles on the lists this year that include indexes made by Society of Indexers members. Well done everyone who gets recognised in this way. Not all members work in areas that will ever get this kind of public recognition but it all helps to remind editors and publishers that indexes matter. Here’s a link to the Society of Indexers news.
This week saw the launch of the long anticipated new Society of Indexers website. Featuring a new modern design, the site retains information useful for anyone interested in indexing, needing an indexer or looking for more information. The facility for finding indexers has also been updated, so I also took the opportunity to sweep some dusty corners here and rejig things a bit too.
The project outlined in my previous blog, see below, also published a ‘project report‘.
This discusses indexes in the following part:
- para 146 – Enhanced monographs – Scholarly monographs, even the simplest of them, and even in print form, have intricate organisational structures, notes, indexes, tables of content, sections, tables, illustrations. Given this, they are not
particularly well served by current ebook reading devices; enhanced monographs might represent better the complexities of scholarly argument than the less functional ebook. …
The section on Enhanced monographs goes on to give examples of different projects which have created ‘enhanced monographs. The terms ‘interesting’, ‘exciting’, ‘innovative’ and ‘promising’ are used to describe them. Then comes ‘costly’, ‘time-consuming’, ‘not scalable’. So while some high-profile projects have been created, there’s little here about indexes per se, and no anticipation of what could be created using existing standards such as EPUB 3.
Another section of the report looks at new digital developments and discusses open access, the Books as Open Online Content developed as part of the project, and other experimental digital offerings. Then something on non-textual PhD theses, and finally the problems of digital preservation. Information retrieval for the users of these services is not gone into in any detail. This is disappointing because without adequate ways of finding material, full use of all that publishing effort and storage for posterity will not be achieved.
A two-year project that ran between October 2014 and September 2016, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and run in partnership with the British Library. The successful bidder was The Department of Information Studies, University College London.
The output of the project included reports, conferences, talks, twittering, all the usual things you might expect. The final reports were published in early 2017 and included things of interest to indexers and those concerned for the future of them.
The volume entitled Academic Books and their Future, authored by Michael Jubb, a consultant to the project includes the following statements about indexes:
- para 43 – … readers, however, may read only those sections of particular interest to them, or dip in to find specific pieces of information; which is why for print books in particular the
apparatus of tables of contents and indexes are of particular importance.
- para 46 – In addition to publishers and the freelance copyeditors, typesetters, designers and indexers they employ, the supply chain for academic books involves sales agents, distributors, wholesalers, libraries andlibrary suppliers, booksellers (online as well as on high streets and campuses), e-book aggregators and platform providers,
bibliographic data suppliers, and many others.
- para 167 – The formidable advantages of print books—especially for the complex structures typical of academic titles with their tables of contents, sections, chapters, indexes, figures, and tables, illustrations, notes and references, and so on—are well-recognised in the academic community. But they are accompanied by a number of limitations, which e-books have the potential to overcome. Full realisation of such potential is still some way off, however, not least because both most authors and editors (including copy editors and
typesetters) have relatively little experience in enriching their texts to take advantage of the opportunities opened up by digital technologies.
- para 168 – … (in e-books) readers can benefit from in-text searching as against the manual use of printed tables of contents and indexes that can be highly variable in comprehensiveness and quality.
- page 356 – on the production of Open Access books … Ubiquity Press, for example, currently has a basic Book Processing Charge of £3,780 for a book of 100,000 words, rising to £5,920 if copy editing and indexing is included in the service…
So, indexes are important for the future of academic books, there is still a place for them, however the opportunities of e-books are not being realised at this stage, and sometimes the quality of indexing could be better. The price for copy-editing and indexing 100,000 words is estimated at £2,140.
Let’s take a quick look at those prices. Checking the Ubiquity Press site today we find that the guide price has increased by 18.5% to £4,480 for the basic book and £6,900 for the copy-edit and index package. The index page is costed at £880, and copy-editing £1,540, a total of £2,420, an increase of 13%, which suggests the costs of book production have risen more rapidly than those of copy-editing and indexing. Whilst only a guide to authors, I think they are using reasonable estimates and the prices for any individual book may vary.
Meeting these costs is an issue for authors publishing Open Access reports as the burden largely falls on individual universities and research institutions as research funding, particularly in arts and humanities, where project grants usually come from a variety of sources throughout the life of a project. Even when authors are not publishing Open Access texts, there will be costs for indexing and copy-editing that they may have to bear, either through the project funding or as individuals. This is one of the reasons why authors may decide they want to index their own texts. However, The Society of Indexers encourages authors to consider using a professional indexer and stresses the indexer’s role as a collaborator bringing professional indexing skills, objectivity and a fresh approach to the topic, that of a potential reader or learner, as well as subject knowledge of the topic.