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Types of Publishing

By Roy M. Carlisle

So, first, some brief information. There are basically five kinds of publishing. Scholarly/Academic, Professional, Textbook, Trade, & Children's. Here are the definitions:


1. Scholarly/academic

In this area the books are based on original research or original theoretical models. The key phrase is "original research." Scholarly publishers are looking for manuscripts that contribute to the “literature” in a specific field. This contribution is broadly defined but it is a critical factor in deciding whether to publish a manuscript. 


2. Professional/Technical

These books are written to improve or enhance your ROLE in some field. In other words, you buy a professional book to become a better teacher or a better scientist or a better administrator, etc. They don't necessarily have original research but they might although the goal of the book is to increase one's competence in a role. 


3. Textbook

These books are the opposite of scholarly/academic books. This means that they do NOT have original research and in fact, they must not have that. They are books that are based on consensus in an academic field and only "work" if they contain only broadly accepted consensus material that any professor can use for teaching a class.  It doesn't mean these books can't be creative but for a textbook to work in the marketplace, it must cover a subject in such a way that no controversial material is interfering with learning the basic information in a field.


4. Trade

This term is industry jargon for fiction and nonfiction for the general reader. Inventory in most regular bookstores is 99% trade books. Sometimes children's books are included as a subset in the "trade" category but children's publishing is so markedly different from adult trade books that I consider it as its own set or category of books. 

5. Children's books

Everything from preschool board books to picture books are considered a part of this category. The writing, illustrating, printing, distribution, marketing & and sales of these books is done in a world quite separate from adult trade books. The children's book world has its own journals, its own conferences, and its own award programs. It is a wholly contained world that functions in a bubble in the trade world but as I have said, it is so different that I do separate it out. 


I have edited and published books in all of these categories throughout my career. PageMill Press will be publishing books that primarily fit into category 4, with rare projects in categories 2 and 3.

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