COPIM Experimental Publishing Conference 'Experimental Books: Re-imagining Scholarly Publishing'


Experimental Books: Re-imagining Scholarly Publishing is the final conference of COPIM’s Experimental Publishing and Reuse work package including talks, roundtables, and workshops, exploring archival data performances, re-using as re-writing, and computational books.

➡️🔍🖺 Full conference website & documentation available at:

Date & time:

  • Monday, February 20, from 1pm (GMT)
  • Thursday, March 09, from 2pm (GMT)
  • Monday, March 13, from 4pm (GMT)


In addition to making their books openly available, scholars and academic publishers are increasingly experimenting with the forms, formats, workflows, and relationalities of publishing. These experiments include, for example, multimodal publications and books that are published in various versions; or they include books that explore possibilities for collaboration around research and new ways to present and disseminate it beyond the standard print-based, single-authored, closed access models that still tend to be dominant in the humanities. Here, one can imagine experiments focused on extending interactions around books, through open peer review, social annotations, or collaborative writing and editing, for example.

This conference will showcase some of the experiments that are currently taking place in the realm of academic book publishing. It aims to inspire authors, publishers, technology developers, and others to (continue to) speculate on new collaborative futures for open humanities research and publication. It also aims to discuss how these book experiments could sit within more standardised or established workflows for print and online book production, dissemination, and preservation.

Our focus will be on the communal nature of these experiments and their performative potential in the context of academic knowledge creation and dissemination. During the conference, experimentation will be discussed and enacted as a way to reimagine, and re-perform established ways of doing and publishing research and the connotations of individual authorship, originality, and the ownership of research that comes with this; questioning notions of the book as fixed and subject to rigid definition;  and the accompanying traditional, workflows, practices, and relationalities that constitute academic research, writing, and publishing.

The conference is organised around three key themes or book typologies, that we have explored and experimented with over the last 3.5 years in the context of the COPIM project. These are Data Books, books where a database of resources forms the central element (i.e., not as an enhancement to a text-based book) around which the book is formed; Combinatorial Books, books based on the re-use (for example, through re-writing, adaptation, remix, or forking) of already existing books published under an open license; and Computational Books, books that include or incorporate code as part of their critical content or that execute or run code as part of their knowledge production or publication process.

Beyond sharing insights on and discussing alternative publishing options for the humanities, this conference wants to explore (and be part of a discussion on) how we can establish and strengthen relationships between software and tool providers, publishers, academics, designers, as well as developers and create communities of interest and expertise around experimental books. while engaging with questions such as:

  • How will the form of the book need to adapt (or does it need to adapt?) to still accommodate the research that humanities scholars will want to do in the future?

  • How can speculating on alternative book futures question the hegemonic fixtures in academic publishing?

  • How can we create new communities around our research by experimenting with the forms and relationalities of our books and publishing?

  • How can we promote the irreducible plurality of research through our academic publishing cultures?