Why the book will continue to have an impact on the broader public

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By: Lucy Frisch, Wed Mar 18 2020

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Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

As an extension of this year's Academic Book Week* theme, 'The Environment,' we asked our book authors who have published research in related fields to share their thoughts on the future of the academic book as it relates to climate change, how they engage with audiences beyond their scholarly circle to make an impact, and much more.

Read our interview below with Risa Palm, co-author of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in South Florida.

Why did you choose a book as the medium for publishing your research?

I chose a book as the medium for publishing this research because I wanted the opportunity to provide the geographic background to the study as well as the justification for asking the questions we did based on the very large literature from psychology, economics, political science, sociology and other fields.  A book-length manuscript allows the author to fully explain the context for the study and its broader implications. Books also permit generous use of graphics, including maps and photos, that help to clarify the intent and the findings.

Since by its nature the book is written for a broader audience than a narrowly focused journal article, this medium will continue to have a larger impact on the general public.

What do you think the future of books looks like, especially those on topics related to climate change? 

I don’t think that the topic of climate change is unique in the non-fiction, scholarly, book-publishing world.  I would suggest that there is so much interest in this topic, that publishers should consider trade book options, with different price structure and different marketing. 

The larger question is about the future of book publishing itself, which is a topic on which I am not an expert.  Having served as a university provost for 16 years at 3 institutions, I would comment that books are still very important in many disciplines, but that book prices along with journal prices have put immense pressures on library collections.

What impact would you like to see your book have?

I am hoping that the book will be read by practitioners as well as scholars interested in environmental communication issues, and that it will stimulate more debate and more interest in effective means of communicating risk of sea level rise associated with climate change.  I was especially pleased to see a review of the book written by Rob Dale, a planner with the Ingham County (Michigan) Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the blog “recoverydiva.com”.  This blog is intended for emergency management practitioners as well as researchers.  In addition, a short summary of the book has had more than 50,000 “reads” on The Conversation website, with large numbers of readers directed to the site by Marketwatch, Fast Company and EcoWatch.

How can publishers work with you to make sure your research can make a difference on environmental issues?

We enjoyed working with Springer because of their very rapid response to our manuscript, and high quality production.  I believe that it is important that books on topical issues do not languish, and Springer certainly was very agile in responding to this manuscript. I also appreciate the fact that individual chapters are made available to prospective readers.

How do you engage with practitioners, policymakers and/or the general public to make a difference through your research?

This book is very much in the tradition of the work that has come from researchers affiliated with the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center with which I have been affiliated for a long time.  The mission of this center is the translation and sharing of information about hazards and disasters. My co-author and I intend to go to the summer workshop of the Hazards Center to participate in a “Meet the author” session where we will be able to talk with federal, state and local emergency managers.  In addition, we will be doing a webinar for the Florida Housing Coalition.

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About Risa Palm

Dr. Risa Palm is Professor of Urban Studies and Public Health and former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Georgia State University. Palm’s prior administrative positions include Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the Louisiana State University and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost at the State University of New York (system).  Palm holds a B.A./B.S. in history, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include the response to earthquake hazards and climate change.  She has published 14 books or monographs including The Geography of American Cities (Oxford University Press) and Natural Hazards (Johns Hopkins University Press) and is a Fellow of the American Association of Geographers.  

Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

Lucy Frisch is a Senior Marketing Manager on the Outreach and Open Research team, based in the New York office. She has a passion for storytelling and works to humanize the research published across Springer Nature with a focus on the researcher experience.