The primary media for scholars to communicate their research and share their ideas are peer-reviewed monographs and journal articles. Academic or scholarly publishers are the “bread and butter” of faculty publishing. Many are university presses (e.g., Georgetown University Press) that accept new works in only a few fields or disciplines.
In recent years, open access, a new model of scholarly publication, has emerged to expand the reach of scholarly works by reducing or eliminating price and access barriers.
Textbooks & Books for Course Adoption
Textbook publishers, as their name describes, focus on works written specifically to be used in a course. A quick walk around the second floor of the GU Bookstore at the beginning of a semester will identify several examples of textbook presses. Closely related are reference publishers, who specialize in producing reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and “handbook of” or “companion to” a particular field. Some scholarly publishers also publish books for use in the classroom.
Trade publishers put out the majority of books found in a typical Barnes & Noble or other general interest bookstore. While some trade publishers consider scholarly titles, the vast majority of trade publishing is focused on high-selling popular works. Most (if not all) trade publishers will only accept manuscript submissions from a literary agent.
To read more about the different types of publishers, see “What Do Publishers Do?,” an online selection from Getting It Published by William Germano (University of Chicago Press).