Johannes Gutenberg first used moveable type for printing around 1439. Fast forward 574 years to find Project Gutenberg offering almost 50,000 out-of-copyright books free to read online or to download as eBooks. Publishing as an industry thrived for hundreds of years, until the mid-1990s when the Internet had a revolutionary impact on culture, commerce, and publishing. The more recent and dramatic changes in publishing were obvious to Lectio’s co-founders Brennan Hill, a former professor (now emeritus) at Xavier University in Cincinnati, and publisher of over 25 academic and popular books on religion and theological studies. So Brennan approached Eric Wolf, web expert and adjunct professor of Biblical Studies at The Athenaeum of Ohio, Cincinnati; and Linda Wolf, marketing guru, graphic artist, writer, editor, and founder of digital marketing services group, ActiveCanvas. Collectively, we agreed that the future of publishing is sandwiched somewhere between open access initiatives and the current protected systems where books are bought and sold. We believe it’s creeping around the extremities of these two methods, and that the face of publishing is changing so rapidly that only the swift will survive. For centuries, physical books have shaped the exchange of knowledge. A well-produced book by a learned author was a source of pride and accomplishment for the author and a gift to the reader. Somewhere in the last decade, however, academic publishing was subjected to declining book sales. As students and professors became more and more comfortable in a digital world, used books became easier to obtain online. Gone are the days when publishers stockpiled books in vast warehouses and employed armies of sales reps to call on university libraries and hawk wares from draped conference tables. Nowadays, a click of a mouse can order a book (new or used) delivered usually for free by Amazon or Barnes & Noble and the search term “used textbooks” returns over 113,000 results. Library budgets are being trimmed, while shelving is being replaced with workstations. Still, colleges and universities continue to regard the well-published book as basis for professional promotion, status, and tenure. Manuscripts still require peer review, proposals, and editors. Books still require layouts, cover designs, ISBNs and review copies. They have to be printed, shipped, promoted, sold, and exchanged. So we formed Lectio Publishing in 2013 to primarily publish the work of scholarly writers in the fields of theology, religious studies, and spirituality. We want to:
- court both traditional and digital media simultaneously to provide high quality personalized services to a select group of authors
- keep overhead to a minimum so we can publish student-affordable softcovers and eBooks
- remain open-minded about the future where books and the ideas, arguments, thoughts, and debates they create organically expand a book’s usefulness and longevity.
We invite authors to have conversations with us about how much or how little they want to be involved in the publishing of their books, especially to explore incorporating social media efforts to connect their ideas to their audiences with informal dialogue and discussion.