Saturday, 16 July 2011

vanity publishing and ego-surfing

For the last four years, one of the research projects that I have been working on has run a small annual workshop, where people present papers on stuff relevant to computer simulation. It's nice to be able to print these papers in a professional-looking form, but it's not really a big enough event to attract the publishers who do conference proceedings. So, I've had the workshop proceedings printed by a colleague of mine who runs a small publishing outfit as a sideline, exploiting short print run and print-on-demand technology.

CoSMoS proceedings 2008-2011

So is this just an example of a "vanity press" publication? After all, we are paying to have the books printed. But no: we ensure that the papers are rigorously refereed, and that the accepted papers are modified in light of the referees' comments. The various books are also available on Amazon, and some (a few, to be sure!) get bought from there.

The latest workshop volume has recently arrived from the printers, ready for our workshop next month. I was checking whether it had appeared on Amazon, by searching for my name. It has.

What struck me, though, was the number of hits that resulted from my search. 73. I haven't written 73 books, or editted 73 proceedings, or anything like that. So what gives?

Aha! It's due to the Amazon search looking inside the books, too. Since conference proceedings are included in the search, and since I have some papers published in such beasts, these appear as hits. There were some hits of proceedings where I don't have a paper, but where other papers that reference mine. Good.

Reading Nora Roberts -- cover
But as I looked further down the hit list, there were some strangenesses. First I saw a book called Reading Nora Roberts by Mary Ellen Snodgrass, labelled "Pop Lit Book Club". What? I searched for my name within the book, and there, on p.113, I found the following:

Reading Nora Roberts -- text

Good grief. My website review of some of the mind candy I read has found its way into a book! (I must admit, I rather like the implication from this quotation that mine is a "cerebral" site.)

Scence Fiction Authors -- cover
And that wasn't the end of it. I also found Science Fiction Authors: A Research Guide by Maura Heaphy, because it cites a page on my site as a "research source" for information on Walter M. Miller. (My site is very sketchy and incomplete on this issue, I hasten to add!)

Science Fiction Authors -- text

Moral: if you put someing up on the Web, it could end up nearly anywhere.

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