WP6: Experimental Publishing and Reuse

Performing Data Differently Map by Ellen Fowles published on Zenodo

Image credit: Image by Ellen Fowles (2021). Performing Data Differently Map. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5541339.

WP6 brings together publishers, technologists, researchers, and authors to devise strategies to promote experimental book publishing and the reuse of, and engagement with, open access books. We are examining ways to align existing open source software, tools, workflows and infrastructures for experimental publishing with the workflow of open access book publishers. To do so, we are co-developing a set of pilot experimental academic books together with the scholar-led presses Open Humanities Press, Mattering Press and Open Book Publishers which are being developed with the aid of these open source tools and technologies. We are also publishing research reports and are developing online resources for authors and publishers interested in exploring experimental forms of publication.

Aims and research questions

Our research is looking at experiments with the book that reimagine the relationalities that constitute academic writing, research and publishing, and speculate on what the future of the book and the humanities might look like beyond the printed codex-format as the standard publication choice.

Our aim is to make it easier for authors and publishers to take up these kinds of experiments, and to integrate them into their research and publishing work-flows. We are doing so by highlighting the open source tools, technologies, platforms and software that are already available to support experimental forms of publishing, whether they are custom-designed for academic books or not. But instead of focusing solely on experimental publishing as a technological problem requiring technological solutions, we are keen to investigate what the inhibitions and the barriers are towards the uptake of these kinds of experimental books and processes (and how to overcome them), both for authors and for presses. As such we are working closely with authors and presses to create pilot projects and communities of best practice, to explore how to best enable experimental publishing.



Mapping, Connecting, Developing Future Book Imaginaries (July 1, 2020)

As part of this online half-day stakeholder workshop we brought together some of the most cutting-edge open source software and platform providers working on reimagining the academic book. Together with a selection of scholar-led and new university presses we collaboratively explored the questions: how can we better enable the production and publication of experimental books; and what is already out there to support this?

Workshop Overview: https://www.copim.ac.uk/events/200701-experimental-publishing-workshop/

Workshop reports:

ReUsing Sources 1 – Texts: Foraging, Slashing, Weeding, Composting, Assembling, Caring for Texts (June 3, 2021)

For ReUsing Sources 1: Texts, we worked with the team behind the Combinatorial Books: Gathering Flowers pilot project, which in its first iteration consists of a collaborative ‘re-writing’ of Tondeur and Marder’s The Chernobyl Herbarium (Open Humanities Press, 2016); a process the authors conceptualised as a form of productive disappropriation. The engagement with the latter text, as well as discussions among the participants of this workshop, evolved through the collective assembly of an ad-hoc publication during the workshop. The publication consists of: (1) a collection of plants and their properties that can inform the creative, careful “composting” (through writing, reuse and publishing) of OA materials; (2) short experiments in rewriting a passage from the Chernobyl Herbarium; (3) plant-based recipes for re-using sources. By means of these exercises we are gathering new ways to re-engage with existing texts in and through scholarly writing.

Workshop overview: https://www.copim.ac.uk/events/210603-experimental-publishing-reusing-sources-texts/

Workshop report:

ReUsing Sources 2 – Data: Translating, Performing, Computing, Masking, Dressing Data (June 17, 2021)

For ReUsing Sources 2: Data, we worked with the Politics of Patents (POP) team. POP investigates 200 years of global clothing patents to examine the shifting materialisation of body, citizenship, inventiveness and gender. The intention of this workshop was to discuss how archival data might be performed differently. This question speaks not only to researchers and artists who work with large archival data sets; it also speaks more broadly to how artists and scholars might engage datasets in a way that renders them open to investigation, creative critique and invention. The engagement as well as discussions among the participants of this workshop evolved through a tentative prototyping process. During the workshop participants drew on data from the POP project to prototype forms of data performance. Prototyping here served both: as a research methodology for critically engaging with and questioning normalised ways of relating with and around data; and as a prefigurative practice by which to imagine possible alternative procedures. The workshop participants engaged with mask patents from the POP archive stemming from different centuries. They did so through creative material interventions and by re-performing, translating or reanimating them in reference to contemporary and future personal, economic or socio-political conditions. Following the workshop, the question how books might perform archival data differently, became the lead question of the associated Archival Conversaions pilot book project.

Workshop overview: https://www.copim.ac.uk/events/210617-experimental-publishing-reusing-sources-data/

Workshop report:

Research Reports

  • Adema, Mars, and Steiner. 2021. Books Contain Multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.933fa904 and 10.5281/zenodo.4471571
  • Books Contain Multitudes: Exploring Experimental Publishing is a three-part research and scoping report which serves as a resource for the scholarly community, especially for authors and publishers interested in pursuing more experimental forms of book publishing. The first two parts of this report situate such books in the context of academic research and publishing, and map current projects in a tenative typology of experimental books. The third part of this report reviews existing resources such as tools, platforms and software that enable the production of experimental books. This section also presents a roadmap and methodology towards the creation of an online Experimental Publishing Compendium (a resource which we will be publishing in 2022) and discusses collaborative writing and annotation tools.
  • Adema, Moore and Steiner (2021) Promoting and Nurturing Interactions with Open Access Books: Strategies for Publishers and Authors. COPIM. doi: 10.21428/785a6451.2d6f4263 and https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5572413

This is a three-part research and scoping report that has been created as a (evolving) resource for the scholarly community, especially for publishers and authors interested in fostering more engagement with open access books. The first part of this report provides a literature overview to identify the opportunities that digital technologies and enhanced interactions with open access books can provide for scholarship. It outlines some of the main types of interactions around open books that scholars are involved in. And it showcases some of the experiments within humanities book publishing with reuse, remix and more interactive features. Finally, it presents some of the main (technological and socio-cultural) inhibitions that have prevented further uptake of these practices. The second part of this report then explores more closely the technical dependencies that the introduced interactions and affordances rely upon. In doing so, it outlines and showcases a variety of open source tools, software, technologies, platforms, infrastructures, guidelines and best practices that lend themselves to being adopted by publishers and authors (or by publishers and authors working in collaboration with each other) to facilitate interaction around their book(s). The third part of the report then summarises the findings of the previous parts and provides recommendations, guidelines and strategies (again both socio-cultural and technological) for publishers and authors to further open up their books and collections to community interaction and reuse.

Blog posts/articles

McHardy, J. (2021). On the same page/screen: Making books, making collectives. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.ea946f58

Adema, J. (2020). Thinking Experimental Publishing: introducing COPIM Work Package 6. COPIM. Retrieved from https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/introducing-copim-work-package-6

International Conference

We are hosting an international conference on Experimental Publishing in 2023. More details TBC.


Keynote presentation, Janneke Adema, “Exploring Experimental Publishing: Mappings, Pilots, and Guidelines,” The 16th Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing. November 16, 2021. https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/munin-2021-exploring-experimental-publishing-mappings-pilots-and-guidelines/

Panel Presentation, Rebekka Kiesewetter and Patrick Hart. “The Global Book,” Spineless Wonders 2022, 12 November 2021. https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/spineless-wonders-the-global-book/

Panel presentation, Janneke Adema, Marcell Mars, and Tobias Steiner, “BoOkmArks: Open Conversations About OA Books - Experimental Publishing,” Open Access Books Network, June 29, 2021. https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/bookmarks-open-conversations-about-oa-books-experimental-publishing-june-29-2021/

Panel Presentation, Julien McHardy, Verlage Selber Machen, cache.ch, 27 September 2020. https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/on-the-same-page-screen-making-books-making-collectives/

Pilot Projects

Combinatorial Books Gathering Flowers

Combinatorial Books: Gathering Flowers is a collaboration with Open Humanities Press. It explores and encourages the rewriting of books within the OHP catalogue as a means of generating radical new responses to them. In its first iteration a group of scholars, technologists and students from the Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México (including Etelvina Bernal, Sandra Hernández Reyes, Sandra Loyola Guízar, Fernanda Rodríguez González, Yareni Monteón López, Deni Garciamoreno, Nidia Rosales, Xóchitl Arteaga Villamil and Carolina Cuevas), led by Dr Gabriela Méndez Cota, are producing a book-length response to a volume published by OHP: The Chernobyl Herbarium. The response is titled “Ecological Re-writing as Disappropriation: Situated Engagements with the Chernobyl Herbarium”.

Adema, J., Hall, G., & Méndez Cota, G. (2021). Combinatorial Books - Gathering Flowers - Part I. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.d3ecc6cc

Adema, J., Hall, G., & Méndez Cota, G. (2021). Combinatorial Books - Gathering Flowers - Part II. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.5be753b2

Adema, J., Hall, G., & Méndez Cota, G. (2021). Combinatorial Books - Gathering Flowers - Part III. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.6804756b

McHardy, J. (2021). Tentative Florilegium: Experiments & Recipes for ReWriting Books. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.840fc9e5

Archival Conversations

In this pilot project Mattering Press is collaborating with the Politics of Patents (POP) research project (Goldsmiths, University of London) to explore how books might make archival data available to open-ended and lively readings, interpretations and appropriations. Towards this end, Kat Jungnickel from POP and Julien McHardy from Mattering Press examine the POP research data, that comprises over 200 years of patent data, through a series of artistic and scholarly interventions. Each intervention, from sound, to visuals to re-enactment, will perform the data differently, providing new connections and associations. Beside these specific interventions, the whole dataset containing more than 370.000 data points will be available as a fully searchable database within the book. Beyond this specific book project, the experiments in this pilot book project explores what a Data Book could look like, probing how texts relate to the archive and how the book mediates between the archive and interpretation by investigating where the archive ends and the book begins . It examines how texts and books relate to the archive, and how digital tools complicate this relationship, while also opening ways to render them more dynamically, and potentially available to open and ongoing interpretations.

McHardy, J., Jungnickel, K., Kiesewetter, R., & Fowles, E. (2021). Data Books & Data Bodies: Performing Archival Data differently. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.fb44bb05

McHardy, J., & Jungnickel, K. (2021). Experimental Publishing collaboration with POP, the Politics of Patents project. COPIM. https://doi.org/10.21428/785a6451.1ea4b573


X-Sketchbook is a collaboration with TIB Hannover, The Bartlett School of Architecture and Open Book Publishers. It explores the state of the art of experimentation in architectural publishing and the creation of computational books. The latter are books that include or incorporate executable code in their content. The focus in this pilot project is on the use of diverse digital objects in architectural studio practice from multiple locations, and how they can be captured or packaged best as a multi-format book publication, ensuring they are stored and citable, or persistent and reproducible. In studio practice and sketch design, architects are using diverse digital objects from multiple locations in their design sketches. The X-Sketchbook project is using Open Science data tools to help capture and store these objects, assign them persistent identifiers, and then package them as a book – aimed at reuse. Working with a hybridized version of book sprints Simon Worthington and his colleagues are using the open-source tool Jupyter Books (Notebooks) to incorporate more advanced types of complex digital objects such as 3D visualisations, real time data simulations, or plans for 3D printing, etc.

Worthington, Simon. (2021). X-Sketchbook: Publishing and Place. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4506467

Citizen Science for Research Libraries — A Guide

In collaboration with TIB Hannover and the LIBER Citizen Science Working Group, this pilot project is assisting with the open peer review processes and dissemination of the four-part book: Citizen Science for Research Libraries — A Guide, which is a peer-reviewed Open Access publication. The latter volume is devising ways to assist research libraries in setting up Citizen Science programs at their institutions. It is intended as a short guide and will be produced as a multi-format and multi-channel work. It will be technically designed for reuse: for example, in community translations or in MOOCs. Book sections will be released incrementally as they are ready. The aim is for the book to become a community-owned publication with regular updates. We are contributing to this iteratively published book: by helping set-up and design processes for its open collaborative post-publication community peer review: and by connecting and integrating the book’s metadata (and content) with Wikidata and wiki texts through COPIM’s Open Dissemination System Thoth. The guide is designed to be a practical toolbox to help run a citizen science project. It has been put together from contributions by members of the research library community.

Adema, J., & Worthington, S. (2021). Book Launch of Citizen Science Guide. COPIM. Retrieved from https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/book-launch-of-citizen-science-guide

Experimental Publishing Compendium

The Experimental Publishing Compendium will provide an online resource for academic experimental publishing. It will offer publishers, authors, platform and tool providers information about book typologies, practices, sensitivities, tools and workflows. We aim to provide inspiration and guidance for experimental publications by linking these building blocks demonstrating how they might fit together. While tools feature prominently in the compendium, we are keen to showcase non-technical ingredients to raise awareness that tools alone don’t make a publication. We are currently starting development and are planning to release a prototype of this compendium by the end of 2022.

  • Janneke Adema (Coventry University)
  • Simon Bowie (Coventry University)
  • Gary Hall (Open Humanities Press)
  • Rebekka Kiesewetter (Coventry University)
  • Julien McHardy (Mattering Press)
  • Tobias Steiner (Coventry University)

Key Collaborators

We are working closely together with Open Humanities Press, Mattering Press and Open Book Publishers, as well as authors and technologists from Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México, Goldsmiths, University of London, and The Bartlett, and with TIB Hannover and the LIBER Citizen Science Working Group.

  • Kat Jungnickel (POP/Goldsmiths)
  • Gabriela Mendez Cota (Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México)
  • Ava Fatah (The Bartlett School of Architecture)
  • Simon Worthington (TIB Hannover)
  • Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers)