Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book publishers, and book citations

It is customary when citing a book in the bibliography of a scholarly article to include the publisher, and the name of a city associated with that publisher. This seems to be a holdover from the days when publishers were relatively small, and perhaps when the British and American versions of a book with the same publisher might have some differences. And maybe knowing the city would help you find the book.

But book publishing has changed, and when I look at the front material of a scholarly book today, as often as not I see something like
"Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, An Imprint of Academic Press, A Division of Harcourt, Inc., San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Tokyo."

Maybe it's time to change our citation conventions. (Or maybe, next time you're in Sydney, you'll have a special opportunity to pick up that book...)


Highgamma said...

I completely agree. I was out of academia for a long time and didn't write papers. When I came back a few years ago, I found the practice of including locations of publishers to be arcane. It would make sense to have this policy only for publishers that are not on a known list of publishers.

However, we academics have little to say about this. A quick look at the sample references for the American Economic Review shows how the editors of journals are the arbiters of reference style.

AEA style is "Author Last name, First name. Year. Title of Book. City of publication: Publisher." Your request need to be directed at editorial boards.

Anonymous said...

The ISBN number would be much more useful information!