What makes Sense Publishers different from other publishing companies in the Education field?
Peter: Well, I think every publisher is a reflection of their authors and editors – our team we have put together – and it is constantly evolving and improving. I have heard many people refer to us as “edgy”, in that we do not shy away from taking on topics that other Education publishers might balk at. It could be in the social justice realm, or indigenous topics, education policy, or even novels and fiction! So, I guess if we might be considered bold enough to publish topics like that, then that’s a reflection of the “boldness” and “edginess” of our authors and editors.
We’re also decidedly international in our reach and scope, so we don’t concentrate on one or two regions of the world. Europe, Africa, Asia, Americas … north, south, east, west … we consider it all.
Describe the approach Sense Publishers has to publishing. Do you seek out authors or do they seek you out? Can anyone be published or are you looking for something specific from an author?
Peter: We certainly seek and recruit quality educational research professionals, and we are also sought out by the same. Sometimes we have specific topics in mind, and we seek authors or editors. Sometimes we are approached by an author or editor with a specific topic or perhaps an idea for a series of books. We also get lots of referrals by our current authors and editors, which, I think, underlines the value they see in us and our publishing program.
Most of our books, in fact, are in “Series” -- collections of books aligned around a particular subject or theme. We have over 60 series at present, and each is overseen by a Series Editor, who is a professional educator and who is responsible for establishing the vision and scope of all the books that will be part of the series. The Series Editor also is responsible for recruiting authors and editors to produce those books. Editors are given freedom to explore topics from unique perspectives and we aim to have a strong balance in views that all the readers will be able to get something out of it.
All of our book projects go through a review process by professional educators we know and respect, and if a project is evaluated favorably – and we believe there is interest in the topic to make it practical to publish – then we proceed.
Again, I think our authors and editors – and our customers and fans! -- appreciate our willingness to consider a wide band of topics under the Education Research umbrella. We like to think we raise and amplify the voices of many bright, intelligent, passionate, and thoughtful educators from around the globe, and bring them to an appreciative audience.
When did Sense Publishers open its doors? What is unique about Sense Publishers? What are the company’s strengths?
Peter: I began Sense Publishers in 2004, based in the Rotterdam area of The Netherlands, after over 20 years as a Publishing Director with a large international company, where I acquired and published content in the educational publishing field.
It may sound cliché, but I really did see a need that other publishers were not filling – quality books, published quickly, a priority on giving personal attention and service to the international cast of authors and editors we publish, and focused on the Educational Research field. So when the opportunity presented itself, I took it and started this journey.
I was joined shortly thereafter by my colleague Michel Lokhorst, who serves as publisher and also Director of Asia/Pacific, based in Taiwan. Together, the two of us have worked with authors and editors to bring to the field over 800 titles to date, publishing some 120+ books each year.
It’s one thing to acquire and publish books, but it’s another to “get the word out” and reach an international audience. We got a boost in 2008 when Paul Chambers joined us and has become our Sales and Marketing Director, based in the US (Boston, MA), and he also serves as our Area Manager for North America. We are now plugged in to the international distribution and academic library channels, and are regularly in touch with our core audience in Educational research through web-based marketing, along with social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
We accomplish our mission by using innovative print-on-demand technology, by minimizing overhead and by not aiming for excessive profits. We are very mobile and can quickly decide and move on a project. Our marketing reach is worldwide.
I still find it amazing what we have accomplished so far, with a small but dedicated and passionate staff, coupled with productive technologies and a group of top international authors and editors that make up a veritable “Who’s Who” in their specialties. We’re quite proud of where we are today.
Is there a typical book in your list that represents the kind of books Sense Publishers seeks to bring the Education Research field?
Peter: Well, as mentioned earlier, we consider lots of topics that might get overlooked or be considered too outside the mainstream for some of the other publishers. For example, our top five bestsellers in the past ten years include an interesting variety of topics, some mainstream, some not.
Our best-selling book to date is one called Low-Fat Love, by Patricia Leavy, which is actually a novel, “social fiction” that illustrates issues important in Educational Research and is not only a good read, but used as a discussion-provoking text in college classes. On the other end of the spectrum, another bestseller is Understanding and Developing Science Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge 2nd Edition edited by a team of researchers from Australia.
We then have Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, by Christopher Emdin out of Columbia University in NY, which focuses on teaching high-school science through the use of hip-hop. Then a perennial, mainstream classic, Doing Educational Research, by Ken Tobin, a world-class educator. And finally, a book that typifies our “edgy” culture and education titles, The Great White North: Exploring Whiteness, Privilege and Identity in Education by Canadians Paul Carr and Darren Lund.
With our print-on-demand concept and built-in efficiencies of our operation, we can certainly take a chance on worthy topics that might otherwise never breakthrough in a traditional publishing model. Some of the titles above, and many, many in the rest of our list, are like plants that when given some water, sunshine and knowledgeable care, really take root and just produce bloom after bloom. We’re quite proud of facilitating that and very happy for our authors and editors.
What’s on the horizon for Sense Publishers?
Peter: Up to now, Sense has focused 100% on publishing books. We are, however, embarking on an exciting new frontier of Open Access Journal Publishing – which will provide unrestricted access via internet to peer-reviewed scholarly research in the Educational Research topics we typically cover. Readers can just search via the web and locate articles in our journals and read them -- without charge. No more reliance on paid subscriptions or needing to work through the university library for access. We expect to launch our initial Open Access offerings later this year.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to seek out and bring to market interesting, engaging, thoughtful, and valuable concepts and viewpoints in Educational Research and related areas through our book publishing program. It’s a very dynamic and interesting time in the Educational Research field, and we are excited to be among its players.
Where to find Sense Publishers
For more of Michelle’s articles: