Just World Books has a radical proposal: To publish “timely books for changing times”. It’s the kind of ideology that would motivate many contemporary publishers of foreign affairs, but its not necessarily so urgent that it would keep them awake at night as they worry about how to bring such an ideology to fruition. For Just World Books the notion of timely publication is the central contribution which the publisher seeks to make to its readers. Indeed, the idea of timeliness is so central that it is has been adopted and integrated in the company’s acquisition and editorial process for Just World Books, as it turns out, is a blog-driven publisher.
Based in Charlottesville Virginia, Just World Books has just launched its website and has announced the publication of its first title, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East by Ambassador Chas W. Freeman Jr which will be due for release in October. Following this book, the presses of Just World Books will be publishing three additional titles, cultivated from blogs written by writers specialising in foreign affairs.
According to Just World Books owner Helena Cobban, the blog-to-book model enables books on current (and perhaps controversial) topics to be published with a “rapid turnaround”. For Just World Books, this rapid turnaround amounts to approximately three months, as opposed to the few years that it usually takes to complete work on a book. As a journalist, Just World Books founder Helena Cobban explains that her need to deliver timely books is the hangover of a “newshound’s addiction to speedy turnaround”. Just World Books seek to deliver their books by employing a “batch-editing” system in close collaboration with the authors of each book. The fast turnaround also owes its expediency to the fact that the text is not being written from scratch; but rather, is being built upon already existing analysis and commentary that exists in blog archives. As for delivery platforms, Just World Books interestingly seeks to publish their texts in paperback first, then hardcover and finally e-books optimised for the iPad. Given that Just World Books is seeking to deliver books in a timely fashion, the e-book format would offer the greatest expediency and convenience to potential readers.
Cobban notes that “some of the best thinking and writing on the important issues of our day [are] often hidden deep in other people’s blog archives”. This is perhaps the greatest aspect of Just World Books’ publishing model. Not that they are offering timely delivery of books, but that their books contain contemporary and up to date commentary on issues that are relevant to the world today.
Just World Books’ media release (9 September 2010)