Dear Friends & Readers –
If you subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social, you’ve probably noticed a stream of links to our ambitious new online platform, the MIT Press Reader, in recent months. The Reader, which quietly went live in May 2019, draws on the Press’s rich backlist and family of distinguished authors to provide thought-provoking excerpts, interviews, and other original works written for the general public but backed by academic rigor. To date, it has attracted audiences from more than 90 countries, and has seen its articles republished by media outlets including Scientific American, Popular Science, Smithsonian Magazine, TIME, Quartz, and the Daily Beast. As the MIT Press Reader creeps toward its first million views, I’m pleased and excited to officially announce its launch.
The reason we started the site is simple: We believe the lifespan of a book shouldn’t be beholden to traditional publishing seasons or at the mercy of rapidly changing news cycles and book reviewers, many of whom are drowning in new releases. Our goal, then, is to showcase work previously published by presenting it in new and interesting ways, and using it as a point of entry to our outstanding books and authors.
“I’m amazed at the quality and depth of the Press’s catalog,” says digital content manager Anar Badalov, who spearheaded the project and manages the site, “and humbled by the response we’ve seen from our readers and authors, many of whom are delighted to learn that we’re giving second life to their books.” Readers are hungry for smart, compelling material, we’re finding, regardless of when it was originally published.
One of the site’s most circulated articles, an adapted excerpt from Helen Nissenbaum and Finn Brunton’s 2015 book Obfuscation, has been viewed nearly 100,000 times. Other popular articles include an incisive essay on America’s misguided conservation practices; a valuable — and amusing — guide to writing a thesis; a little-known history involving Freud and Mexican labor unions; an excerpt on scientific progress from our translation of a classic 19th-century work; and my interview with Noam Chomsky.
The pattern, it seems, is that there is no pattern — just one dazzling piece after the next. We invite you to look around, encourage you to come back often, and trust you will find much that inspires and ignites.
Amy Brand, PhD '89
Director, The MIT Press