Sunday, June 19, 2011

Things Take Time

Among the many differences between academic and trade publishing, the market lifespan of a work is one of the most intriguing. A new novel, or even a piece of trendy non-fiction, that does not sell well within a few months following its release date can be quickly relegated to the remainder bin, as new releases compete for shelf space, promotional funds and the attention span of a media saturated public. In contrast, academic books slowly find their way into libraries and into the personal collections of faculty members and graduate students working in similar areas of interest. The slow pace is due in part to the fact that the key to dissemination is getting a book reviewed in relevant academic journals, which are relatively few in number and which rely on the willingness of subject experts to volunteer their time to critique new materials released in their fields.
In the most recent issue of the Journal of Religious History (2011, Vol. 35, No. 2), Edward Tyler said, "Robert Campbell’s Reading the Qur’an in English is a most useful tool and to be recommended to the interested newcomer. There are careful comparisons made with the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and in general, his book is eminently clear, systematic, and successful. It is a book to be read, and could be used in study groups and tutorials on the Qur’an. This reviewer is very glad to have the book in his possession."

This book was released in March 2009. So, more than two years later, my book is getting the sort of endorsement that a trade publication would have needed within weeks of its release, or preferably prior to its release. According to OCLC, copies of my book can be found in about 250 academic libraries around the globe, the vast majority of which are in the USA, but Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, the UAE and the Netherlands are also represented. With this new review, I am hopeful that scholarly uptake of my book will increase, but perhaps the greater potential lies in my ability to use the review as a means to further promote my book to a wider audience through social media.