Editora UFRJ bets on digital as a way to expand scientific dissemination – UFRJ Connection

An outdated discussion in the publishing market is about the possibility of digital books threatening printed ones. Today, there is a growing coexistence between the two supports, which strengthens production in several ways. In 2020, the number of electronic works sold increased by 83% in the country, according to a survey carried out by Nielsen and released by the Brazilian Book Chamber. Likewise, data from the National Union of Book Publishers show that more than 55 million copies were sold in 2021, a growth of almost 30% in both quantity and revenue.

With more than 35 years of existence, Editora UFRJ aims to produce printed and electronic publications that have scientific, technical, cultural, artistic, literary and didactic value. Linked to the Science and Culture Forum, the unit has already published more than 600 titles, printed and digital. In an interview, we talked about challenges and new projects with its director, Marcelo Jacques de Moraes, who has been in charge of the instance since 2019 and even talked about the next two calls to be launched.

Marcelo Jacques de Moraes, director of Editora UFRJ

Despite a lot of talk about digital replacing print, from 2020 to 2021 there was a 30% growth in this market, both in production and in revenue. As you head a university press today, how do you see the production of printed and digital books?

As a publisher linked to a public university, we have an important communication mission with society. In fact, our mission is to produce books for the university community itself, for researchers and students, but also to disseminate science to society. Until 2019, we still didn’t have digital books, and we know how this alternative expands the possibility of circulation in time and space, in the speed of production. So, we started to invest more heavily in the production of the digital book and took the decision to publish it with open and free access, distributing for sale only the printed books. Of course, this has to be done with the authorization of the authors, but we are starting to make them available on the publisher’s website and on Pantheon, the University’s own academic production repository.

Talking about this connection with society, what is the importance of having a university press the size of Editora UFRJ?

I think the publishing house is still not the size of UFRJ, if we compare it with other university presses from smaller institutions. We have a very qualified team – reviewers, editorial producers – but at the same time we have a delay in the process. I think that UFRJ legitimizes the production that comes to us. It is extremely important that a university like ours can contribute to the circulation of this knowledge that is produced.

What explains this delay?

We have little autonomy. It would be nice if we could have a more direct relationship with the processes of the book itself. The bureaucracy of the public system is extremely necessary, but it leaves us without the agility we need, often with a book ready. Our book goes through a process of four revisions, copyediting, contact with the author… A quality process, but it slows everything down a bit.

We had to close the bookstore, which worked with outsourced professionals; there is a bureaucracy to have and pay interns. All this hinders the agility to take the initiative. We can never compare ourselves to a commercial publisher, but, despite that, we can select a book that is important for the scientific community and for the development of science – that is, to make public what does not have an immediate commercial bias.

What is the profile of publications and how are materials selected?

The books are, in general, produced by researchers from all areas of knowledge and can be purchased on the Publisher’s website by paying for a Guia de Recolhimento da União (GRU). Since 2020, we have opened public notices for two collections: Other Steps, with proposals in the Humanities area; and knowledge of Presentsenaries Ffutures, focused on books on Exact Sciences and Nature. In this case, the idea is that it is a small book, with wider access, for non-experts. These notices will be open later this week, on Friday, 6/5. In addition, we have a general public notice open to all areas of knowledge. All information is available on our website.

This text is the result of the activities of the extension project “Laboratory Connection UFRJ: Journalism, Science and Citizenship” and was supervised by journalist Tassia Menezes.

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