The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a great example of the type of new projects libraries are undertaking. Hopi Nation is a rich cultural history of the Hopi people, told through original essays, artwork, and photography. Since first going online in 2008, the book has received nearly 20,000 downloads. In contrast, a typical print run for a university press is fewer than 1,000 copies. While traditional publishers could see only the high cost of printing the image-rich collection (and a small, niche market for such a publication), UNL’s Paul Royster saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the historical record and to serve faculty, students, and researchers at UNL and beyond.
Despite the quality of the materials, the project took over 25 years to find a publisher. “Like the Hopi people have so often,” Editor John Wunder writes in a new introduction, “this book needed to wait for the right time and the right technology to emerge.” Digital Commons provided the right technology for publishing the anthology, which includes 79 full-color plates and stunning black-and-white photographs in addition to historical and critical commentary by highly regarded scholars and Hopi leaders.
Digital Commons offers libraries and authors the opportunity to breathe new life into books and monographs that have been poorly served by the traditional economics of scholarly publishing. For more on publishing full-length, original books in the IR, see our guide to managing Book Galleries and Paul Royster’s 2012 webinar on Library-Led Publishing: Books and Faculty Monographs.