After a year of 48-hour days and frantic juggling, first copies of the printed volume of End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, finally reached the NIAS Press office this morning. Copies of the book are now available in Europe and the Americas, and very soon throughout Asia.
Very pleased with the result were David Stuligross (with book in hand) and Gerald Jackson (holding a bundle of printer's proofs for the book that coincidentally also arrived this morning, from our Singapore printer).
The online face of the 1945 project – at www.EndOfEmpire.Asia – has been live for several months now. However, in the last few days interest in the website has exploded dramatically. It would be nice if this heightened interest was reflected in sales of the book.
The website has been especially the result of David's creative mind and huge workload. He is now also turning his attention to a series of spinoff country-specific titles. Watch this space.
The first review of Queer/Tongzhi China – edited by Elisabeth L. Engebretsen and William F. Schroeder with Hongwei Bao and published by NIAS Press some months ago – has just appeared. And the assessment is very positive. It calls the volume one “that is firmly grounded in activism and theoretically rigorous in its academic reach.”
In her review for the LSE Review of Books, Denise Tse-Shang Tang of the University of Hong Kong explores the volume in its many dimensions, noting especially the interweaving of solid academic research with the more personal contributions of different artists and activists (a potentially disastrous mixture handled deftly by the editors). She singles out several ethnographies for particular praise and concludes:
This volume of insightful writings not only redirects the focus of queer Chinese politics to the realm of social activism and everyday life, but also, as Huang’s chapter cogently puts it, lifts ‘China out of the theoretical ghetto’.
The full review is available here.
Among the flurry of new NIAS titles appearing as the year hurtles to its end is something rather different – an alternative travel guide to a great Asian city: King Norodom’s Head: Phnom Penh Sights Beyond the Guidebooks by Steven W. Boswell. Targeting ordinary visitors and the specialist, thinking type of traveller, this fascinating guide deals with sights in and about Phnom Penh rarely dealt with in guidebooks and other works about the city.
However, the author – who has lived in Phnom Penh for many years – also had locals in mind when he wrote the book; they too should be interested in learning more about the quirky history of their home town. So it as proved, there being quite a lot of interest shown in the book (and already the author has had one typo pointed out to him by a keen local reader).
Recently, the Phnom Penh Post published a series of stories about the city based on Steve's book and now the Phnom Penh Weekly is weighing in with a humorous review by Philip Coggan. Here are some of the more serious bits of his review.
The story of Norodom’s statue and its head, and how the truth was uncovered, is just one of the fascinating tales in this collection. It’s like a box of chocolates, you can’t stop yourself. Each story is anchored to some physical artefact of the city, and each leads into a history you’d never have suspected. …
… and so we have this beautiful book, a labour of love from a gifted story-teller, written in a fluent and approachable style that wears its learning lightly. But make no mistake, there is real learning here, and no less a historian than David Chandler asked to be allowed to provide a foreword. Chandler sums up in these words: “For those living in the city and for people passing through, King Norodom’s Head … is bound to enrich their encounter.” I can only, and whole-heartedly, agree.
Because the main market for this book is in Phnom Penh and the surrounding Asian region, we printed the paperback in Thailand. (Even so, the cost of printing in colour is pretty steep and the reasonable price for the book makes it difficult to earn much on this title.) For customers elsewhere, it will be a few weeks yet before the paperback hits the bookstores. The hardback is available, however, as this was printed in the U.K.
Here is NIAS Press editor David Stuligross examining the first (hardback) copy of King Norodom’s Head to arrive at the press office. David put a mammoth effort into not just editing some great stories but also getting the crucial nitty-gritty background details right as well.
All in all, not a bad way to end the year – except there’s more to come (but that news isn’t for today).
The impending death of the bookstore and relentless march towards ebooks are not with us yet. Indeed, recent book trade statistics show a revival both of the printed book and the independent bookstore. Just how much that matters for academic authors is another matter, however. Nowadays, it is rare that an academic book is seen in an actual bookstore (and, if it is, not for long).
There are exceptions, of course, one of them for NIAS Press being Chris Hudson’s Beyond Singapore Girl, which continues to resonate (and sell) especially in the Singaporean society it analyses. Here it can be seen in this line of books recently photographed in a Kinokuniya bookstore in Singapore.
Note that all of these books appear spine-out. That is a brutal reality for most books found in any bookstore or library. So, does the cover actually matter? Yes, it does. Here is why.
The timing could not be better, though meeting the deadline has also been a bit nerve-racking. Today, Friday the 11th of September, the Indonesian embassy in Copenhagen is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the declaration of Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945.
NIAS Press editor in chief Gerald Jackson is attending the reception with a special gift in hand, the first copy off the press of John Coast's Recruit to Revolution, a fascinating first-hand account of an Englishman's involvement in the Indonesian struggle for independence. John Coast was also a survivor of the Thailand-Burma ‘Death Railway’ and later brought the likes of Ravi Shankar to a Western audience – a fascinating character and great writer whose text has now been enlivened with great new content and some deft editing by Laura Noszlopy.
Meantime, the office is humming as finally (after a few hiccups) the website for our huge 1945 project – www.EndOfEmpire.ASIA – has gone live. Huge thanks to David (seen behind the book) and Bernd for some long hours and brilliant work. Please take a look; it is stunning. The associated book is also well advanced, out soon. And not surprisingly the Indonesian revolution features largely there, too.
A lot more books are in the pipeline, too. More about them next time.
We are pleased to announce that a NIAS Press book has won the inaugural Nikkei Euroseas Book Prize in the social sciences category. This is Philip Taylor's Khmer Lands of Vietnam, a marvellous book co-published by NUS Press and the University of Hawai‘i Press.
The prize was awarded on day two of the Euroseas conference, being held in beautiful surroundings on the campus of the University of Vienna. With temperatures soaring above 35 degrees (nearly 100 degrees fahrenheit), all conference goers are feeling the heat
Happily, the prizes were awarded late in the day when the shadows were longer. Here you can (just) see NIAS Press editor in chief Gerald Jackson accepting the prize on behalf of the author.
One of the joys of attending conferences is the chance to meet our authors. Such has been the case here at the AAS in Chicago where yesterday Elisabeth Engebretsen passed by to say hello and do her bit to promote Queer/Tongzhi China, a fabulous volume edited by Elisabeth together with William F. Schroeder. It was really good to touch bases with her; so much more satisfying than e-mail.
Here Elisabeth holds up a promotional booklet comprising the prelims and first chapter of the book. (Typesetting of the volume is well advanced and we expect the book out in May as planned.)
Of course, conferences are also great places to meet new authors. There's been a fair bit of that, too, in Chicago.
All in all, we're not complaining!
The AAS annual conference is now underway in Chicago and, despite the overnight snowstorm and wobbly internet connection it is cheery inside. Within minutes of the book exhibition opening an hour ago, we had a faithful scholar passing by to say hello, Craig Lockard from U. Wisconsin (please excuse the shaky picture).
NIAS Press editor in chief Gerald Jackson will be on duty at our stand (#411, across from Hawaii) for much of the conference. If you are at the AAS, please call by and say hello.
Gerald will also be presenting at a publishing panel tomorrow morning (What Editors Look for, and Common Mistakes by Authors).
With so many new NIAS titles are being announced right now, we have released an extra ‘Spring 2015’ catalogue. Among these titles are a flashback to events in 1945 presented in a radical new way that includes daily ‘broadcasts’; a journey inside China’s contested internet; an alternative guide to Phnom Penh’s little-known attractions – and many more.
No, this is not the catalogue cover that you see opposite but that for an older catalogue – all due to a small technical problem (unavailability of our IT guy, Bernd, to swap a file). We trust that the correct cover will be there soon.
However, if you click on the old cover opposite, you'll be taken inside our new catalogue. We hope you are as excited by these new offerings as we are.
News just in the other day – two NIAS Press books have been long-listed as best Social Science title for the ICAS Book Prize. These are Chris Hudson’s Beyond Singapore Girl anf Philip Taylor’s Khmer Lands of Vietnam. They are two out of 10 Social Science titles long-listed, in all 175 books submitted.
Congratulations to both Chris and Philip!
Remember that, in addition to the two book prizes (the other for the Humanities), there is also the IBP 2015 Colleague’s Choice Award. Cast your vote for your favourite book among the 175 submitted books. The polling booth will be open until 16 June 2015.
- Feb. 29 2016
After a year of 48-hour days and frantic juggling, first copies of the printed volume of End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, finally reached the NIAS Press office this morning.