The newly-established SFI Press is pleased to announce the publication of its first volume, History, Big History, & Metahistory. Available in ebook as well as paperback format, this essay collection engages diverse perspectives on cliodynamics, the elusive “science of history,” with pieces from Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann (SFI Distinguished Fellow), historian John Lewis Gaddis, and theoretical physicist Geoffrey B. West (SFI Distinguished Professor and Past President). Each chapter tackles an aspect of this dynamic field, from societal evolutionary theory to Tolstoy, Newton, historical continuity and more.
The Press is an initiative of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), the world headquarters for complexity science. Although SFI has previously published work through Addison-Wesley and the Oxford University Press, accessibility concerns spurred the Institute to move publication in-house.
“The notoriously high price of scholarly books belies their primary purpose — to disseminate knowledge,” says SFI President David Krakauer. “It’s driven academics to read only the volumes they can borrow through their institutional libraries and the wider readership to ignore these writings altogether.”
Krakauer, an evolutionary biologist by training, was one of the editors of this inaugural volume, along with Gaddis and historian Kenneth Pomeranz. He’s envisioned the in-house publishing service as a locus where the best work in complexity science — spanning new and archival SFI-related research — materializes as books that travel quickly through the publication process and cost far less to buy than comparable university press-published SFI volumes. The SFI Press’ publishing strategy involves releasing ebooks for under $5, as well as print-on-demand paperbacks that will cost below $10.
Echoing SFI’s transdisciplinary approach to scientific questions, History, Big History, & Metahistory draws on expertise from diverse fields, including physics, paleobiology, anthropology, mathematics, and geology. In September 2017, it was released for Kindle and other e-readers via Amazon and iBooks, respectively.
On deck for the SFI Press is The Emergence of Archaic States: New Perspectives on the Development of Complex Societies, edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff (SFI External Professor and Past President ) and Paula L.W. Sabloff (SFI External Professor). At every stage of publication, the Press aims for nimbleness coupled with economy: moving quickly to circulate new thought incarnating at SFI — and to make the price right for both fellow scientists and the public.