Eric Jorink and Ad Maas, Isis Book Review Editors
Since Isis moved to Utrecht we have been working hard at the Book Review department to establish a routine in our daily procedures. Thanks to our fantastic assistants Noortje Jacobs, Ruben Verwaal, and Sebastiaan Broere, we’re off to a great start. One important hurdle we had to clear was the integration of the existing book review administration system within Editorial Manager, the online manuscript submission and peer review system provided by the University of Chicago Press and officially adopted by our office in March 2015. Last year in July, when we were first introduced to this online system, it became clear that while Editorial Manager works perfectly for the submission and review of manuscripts, this was somewhat more complicated for the review of books, as the tracking system was never designed for this procedure. As we find it of essential importance to have personal contact with our reviewers (who should not be bothered with unnecessary, cumbersome administrative procedures) in the end it was decided only to invite colleagues to review a book via Editorial Manager and to keep up all subsequent contact via the “traditional” medium that is email. In this way, we are able to collect important statistics regarding the acceptance rates of books at our office and also engage in flexible and personal contact with our most important resource: our book reviewers. Before sending the final versions of reviews off for publication, our assistants upload them once more in Editorial Manager, so that the publisher receives all manuscripts from the Isis office in the same format.
Apart from this, we have of course been concerned with our most important task: commissioning and editing book reviews. During the last year, we have received almost all of the reviews which had still been commissioned by the Toronto office. As this amounted to a rather large number, our Managing Editor has made sure we could publish more reviews than usual in the Isis June issue in order to avoid a backlog. The publication of timely reviews is a priority for the entire Isis Editorial Office.
Once our reviewers send reviews to us, we go through one round of editing at the office before we send the review to our excellent copy editor, Joan Vandegrift. As our book reviewers will have noticed, this has led us on occasion to send them questions for clarification or elaboration upon the interesting reviews they have written. Our reviewers generally appreciate this personal approach and like to share their thoughts with us about the style and structure of their review. In order to make sure that we do not miss important books in our field, our assistants keep in close contact with all major publishing houses. Nevertheless, if any member of the HSS feels that we have not reviewed a book that deserves the attention of Isis, she should not hesitate to contact us. At the HSS meeting in Chicago, we asked the participants of the international breakfast (kindly organized by HSS president Angela Creager) if they were willing to keep us posted of books published in their native language, which has already resulted in a number of useful suggestions. We find it important that non-Anglo-Saxon and European books find their way to Isis more regularly. Therefore, if anyone is aware of such a publication, we warmly recommend them to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.