Blog Archives

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Warlike and Peaceful Societies: The Interaction of Genes and Culture

Why has Afghanistan changed in a few decades from being a relatively relaxed and tolerant society to one of the most authoritarian and fanatical societies in the world? And why were women allowed to wear miniskirts in Afghanistan in the 1960s while they were forced to wear burqas under the Taliban? This dramatic social change is just one of many examples of social developments that my new book Warlike and Peaceful Societies tries to answer by applying a combination of biological and cultural theories.

This new book is the result of many years of research on the mechanisms that drive different societies in different directions – from the most peaceful and tolerant to the most warlike and imperialistic. Continue reading

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From George Romero to The Walking Dead: The Meaning of the Zombie

A few weeks ago, filmmaker George Romero passed away in Toronto. Across the city and elsewhere, remembrance vigils were held for him. It was the kind of treatment usually reserved for great musicians, artists who bared some cardinal human aspect in their work that was hitherto unexplored. In the case of Romero, the artistic reflection was a grotesque one, but estimably more profound than most people realized.

People have called him the father of the modern zombie movie, and deservedly. His innovations in the genre formed the most iconic prototype of the undead walker. A similar version is still featured in shows like The Walking Dead (set to return for its eight season in October), which presides somewhere near the crown of modern broadcasting success stories. The popularity of the genre has reached its crest in the 2000s, and has become more pervasive than its progenitors could have ever predicted. Much of the credit for this must surely go to Mr. Romero. Continue reading

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part Three)

Open Technology: The Future of Open Access

This is the third and final part of a three-part series of blogs to celebrate the publication of our hundredth book. To read the first part, click here. To read the second part, click here. 

One of the major drivers behind the development of Open Access is technology. The internet allows us to make our books available online, and the ready availability of cheap mobile devices means that people all over the world can access them. Technological development in the internet age is partly fuelled by open source projects and phenomena such as crowdsourcing, which harness the willingness of skilled people to work together and share the fruits of their labour for others to develop further. Continue reading

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part Two)

This is part of a three-part series of blogs to celebrate the publication of our hundredth book. To read the first part, click here. To read the final part, click here.

A Global Outlook: Access for Everybody

Why Are We Needed?

Most people in the developing world never own a book. Even in developed countries, the prohibitive price of textbooks and academic titles hinders education, eating into shrinking library budgets and also making it less likely that individuals can afford to buy academic books. In developing countries the situation is even more critical: economic factors combine with lack of infrastructure to restrict access to printed textbooks and university-level titles.

Globally, there are more people enrolling in courses of study than ever before; more people engaging with research and ideas than ever before; more people using digital technology to discover information than ever before. By changing the nature of the academic book, we want to enable everyone to access high-quality textbooks and peer-reviewed research, regardless of income. With the power of digital Open Access publishing, we can make this happen. Continue reading

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One Hundred Books: How Far Have We Come? (Part One)

Open Book Publishers was born in 2008, sparked into life by co-founder and managing editor Alessandra Tosi’s first-hand experience of the frustrations of academic publishing. The thrill of seeing her book in print was dampened by the realisation that, thanks to its exorbitant price and small print run, very few people would have the opportunity to read it. She and co-founder Rupert Gatti began OBP to make high-quality academic books accessible for everyone everywhere and free of charge.

Nine years on we have come closer to realizing our ideal of a world where scholarly works are available to all. With the publication of our hundredth title, Michael Bryson and Arpi Movsesian’s Love and Its Critics: From the Song of Songs to Shakespeare and Milton’s Eden, it is a good time to ask: what have we achieved as we arrive at this milestone, and what do we want to do next?

Over three blog posts we will discuss our innovative publications, our Open Access model and our technological development to celebrate some highlights from our first one hundred books – and to chart a course for the next hundred!

Continue reading