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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

ACM Books to Launch

M. Tamer zsu

Credit: ACM Books

The academic and technical publishing landscape has changed significantly over the past decade. Following a period of massive consolidation in the scientific, technical, and medical publishing industry, there are now only a handful of commercial houses publishing computer science research, and their attention to computer science books, and in particular to graduate textbooks and research monographs where sales are modest compared to the undergraduate market, has dwindled. There are certainly exceptions, and university presses have filled some of the gap, but in today's environment it is entirely accurate to say a considerable vacuum exists in scholarly computer science book publishing. As a result, ACM has decided to play a significant role in filling some of this void by launching a new book program called ACM Books that will enhance its already rich journal and conference publication portfolio. We will begin publishing books in 2014.

ACM Books will fill a unique space in the publishing domain by including books from across the entire spectrum of computer science subject matter. The series will initially focus on four kinds of books: graduate-level textbooks, deep research monographs that provide an overview of established and emerging fields, practitioner-level professional books, and books devoted to the history and social impact of computing. This publishing program will address the information needs of various members of the computing community, including researchers, practitioners, educators, and students. Our books will also expose the rich history of computing and the substantial global impact this field commands.

ACM Books will be published in both digital and print formats. The digital formats will include downloadable PDFs and reflowable ebook formats, such as EPUB, Kindle, and HTML. The print volumes will utilize the most cutting-edge, digital print-on-demand technology available.

For many future readers, the ACM Digital Library will be the primary channel from which to search, browse, and download complete copies or individual chapters of ACM Books. Libraries and library consortia worldwide will make buying decisions on behalf of their faculty and students; corporate libraries on behalf of their employees; and end users will have "unrestricted" and "essentially" free access to these books as a result. Pricing for institutions will be made affordable by ACM, in keeping with our long-standing tradition and non-profit approach to selling the ACM DL.

For professional and student members, the series will be available at a low "add-on" price to their current ACM Membership ($29 annually for professionals and $10 annually for students). For all other individuals interested in purchasing single print or digital copies, there will be an option to do so through leading booksellers, such as Amazon and B&

To accelerate our development of ACM Books, ACM is partnering with respected book publisher Morgan & Claypool. Many in the computing community will be familiar with the San Francisco-based M&C as a result of their highly successful series in computing called the "Synthesis Lectures," which publishes concise volumes across a range of computer science subjects.

There are two questions I am often asked when I talk to colleagues about the new series. The first relates to a book program ACM had in the 1990s called ACM Press, which was subsequently discontinued. Why, they ask, do we expect the new series to be a success when this earlier effort had failed? There are a number of answers to this question. Most important, as I noted, is the changing academic and publishing landscape. We are in a very different world now in terms of the number of players, publishing platforms, and related models for publication. Today, ACM is in a far better position to succeed in a digital world than we ever were in an analog world, which is in large part due to our positioning of the ACM DL, the increasing international profile of ACM's membership, and the revitalized opportunities in the scholarly book market.

The second question asked is how ACM Books is positioned with respect to M&C's Synthesis Lectures, NOW Publishers' Foundations & Trends series, or Springer Briefs. These publications have gained significant favor among the community in recent years. We are positioning ACM Books to complement these other products so that we enrich the computing publication ecosystem rather than constrain it. However, there are several important differences. Our primary objective is to serve our members and the computing community. This orientation will profoundly impact and determine our publishing program. Second, there is a difference in the nature of the books themselves, in length and breadth. These other publishers offer monographs or papers that range about 75125 pages. ACM Books will present topics in far greater depth and detail. Third, and perhaps most importantly, there will be a difference in coverage. Rather than focus on narrow topics as these other series do, ACM Books will target topics more broadly and address areas not covered elsewhere.

We are currently in the process of forming the editorial board, establishing publishing guidelines and styles, and setting up a Web presence for the series. We are contacting ACM SIGSs for their input and their assistance in finding qualified area editors. By the time you read this, our website should be up and running at I look forward to getting your input about any aspect of this program; please write to me at

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M. Tamer Özsu, a professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, is the editor-in-chief of ACM Books.

Copyright help by owners/author(s).

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2013 ACM, Inc.


Nancy Ridenhour

Thank you for this. Even though I am retired from the industry, I want to keep up because of the impact of the computer industry to my investments. Also, I am in an investment book SIG through the Charlotte AAII (American Assoc. of Individual Investors). I will be looking to see if the ones on history and impact may be good for the group, especially as we study impacts of other countries on our investments.

Nancy Ridenhour

M. Tamer Ozsu

Hi Nancy,

I hope some of these books will be of value. If you have any suggestions for books, I would love to hear of them.

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