September 23, 2010

Seeking Authors

At Litwin Books and Library Juice Press we have a number of projects sitting on back burners awaiting the right authors to get them going. I will list some here, with the invitation for potential authors to contact me.

First, a few books about statistics. Not the science of statistics, but statistical data that has been collected about Americans or otherwise of interest. These books would be for a more general audience than most of our others, and would be Litwin Books titles.

How Dumb Are We? A Statistical Portrait of the American People. This book would be a compilation of information from government-compiled statistics and various surveys, showing where Americans stack up terms of general knowledge. It’s inspired by the recent news that 1/5 of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim, coupled with the general difficulty of attempting to debate issues publicly based on a background of factual knowledge as opposed to myths and manipulated impressions. Is it as bad as it seems? It may be. For this book I am interested, on the one hand, in truths about us that may shock us (or provide relief), and on the other hand, smoothly communicating the rigor and reasoning that is necessary in working with stats responsibly. In addition to studies that show what we know and don’t know, I would like this book to include some interesting correlations with demographic and other data.

Related to the above is a book for which I already have a tentative agreement with an author. I mention it here in case that agreement doesn’t work out. It is a book titled, Red and Blue by the Numbers: Statistics that Describe the Political Divide. This one, like the one above, will have a place in a reference collection but should also be a good read.

A book about statistics in another way is one I would like to title something like, A Skeptic’s Guide to Popular Statistics. The main purpose of this book would be to debunk a slew of popular statistics that are essentially distortions and misinterpretations of research, or based on research with flawed methodology. This book would be entertainingly written, informative in the sense of providing surprising news about how what we thought we knew was wrong, and educational in its clear explanations of the ways in which research is often distorted as it becomes popularized.

In a more serious vein, I want to find an author for a book about the loss of public information as a consequence of contracting out government functions to private companies. The news has told us about the extent to which private contractors are involved in the wars we are presently involved in, but it’s something that has happened throughout government. The issue from a government information standpoint has to do with the question of public accountability. Are government contractors subject to the same laws regarding government information? FOIA? National Archives? Copyright? What does the GAO say about it? What do organizations concerned with good government say about it? This is an important, very current issue that deserve the attention of a good book.

For Library Juice Press, I am interested in publishing a biography of Jesse Shera.

Finally, I have a wild idea that I remain unsure about after several years of thinking about it. Voltaire wrote a play called Fanaticism, or Mohamed. Directly, it was an attack on Islam, motivated by an antipathy toward religion in general, especially the Catholic Church, at a time when attacking the Catholic Church directly was not possible. It was written as a part of Voltaire’s lifelong project of furthering the new scientific, liberal values of the time, which were struggling then and were still held by a small minority of people. It is a short play. There is a 1901 translation that is freely available, and a newer translation from the 1960s that I accessed via interlibrary loan. A new, more contemporary translation is needed. The new translation would be the smaller part of this project, however. The bulk of the book would be made up of at least two chapters discussing the play – one placing it in its literary context, written by an expert in 18th century French literature, and another discussing it in terms of contemporary issue areas of religious pluralism, multiculturalism, and the place of values of the European enlightenment (including intellectual freedom). Finding the right people to translate the book and write these chapters would be the key to going forward with the project, because doing it badly would be worse than not doing it at all. I am still unsure about this idea, but I put it out there in case it inspires anyone.

As always, we are interested in book proposals on topics within our editorial scope. Visit our website to see what we have published.

1 Comment »

  1. Great ideas! I’m a huge fan of Jesse Shera, and so I was THRILLED to see you’d like to publish a biography of his life!

    Comment by Hannah — September 27, 2010 @ 9:54 am

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