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Books for Understanding

Information on the new design and features

Books for Understanding is a free, easy-to-use resource to help you find books on current events.  New bibliographies are compiled when a major news story breaks or public debate heats up. 

The program highlights one of the highest values of university presses: to publish top research and scholarship in all fields regardless of immediate commercial potential. Often the most complete and illuminating background research and knowledge for a breaking news story is only available in scholarly books from presses committed to the public interest.

Books for Understanding is free to the general public. Additional information is available to librarians, journalists, and other information professionals, please see the FAQs.

All participating publishers are nonprofit publisher members of AAUP, and do not pay to list books in the bibliographies.

The History of Books for Understanding

Immediately after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, scholarly publishers were inundated with queries about books on terrorism, Afghanistan, and the World Trade Center. To answer the public need for quick and accurate information, AAUP compiled the first Books for Understanding list. The usefulness of such a resource was clear, and in later months AAUP was able to produce similar bibliographies on such topics as Business Ethics and the Enron Affair and Race Relations in America.

A comprehensive history of the early days of the Books for Understanding program was published in the July 2002 Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and is reprinted here.

The Redesign

You're looking at it! The newly redesigned Books for Understanding site, with new content and enhanced services, is now here. We welcome comments, questions, and suggestions on the improvements:

New Features and Enhancements include:

Cross-listing of new bibliographies—the "Related Lists" feature on the left sidebar of each new bibliography alerts users of other topics that may interest them.

A dynamic main page—Our home page is now more responsive to the day's news, featuring not just the newest bibliographies in the program, but also drawing attention to existing resources that are once again "In the News" and pointing out "Books of Note" that are of particular interest in light of the news of the day.

Frequently Asked Questions—We've put more information about the program and how it works to help answer any questions users may have, such as how we develop lists or whether their books can be listed.

Improved Discoverability of Author Information—More information about authors featured in bibliographies, including how to contact them, is available through the Directory of Experts that accompanies many lists. This information is for the use of journalists and event organizers who need informed commentary on subjects in the news. Authors featured in the Directory of Experts are indicated in the book lists by this icon:

Alternative Formats Available—Lists created, or republished, during or after September 2005 are available to wholesalers, libraries, teachers, and booksellers in a more flexible format than the web-published HTML.

RSS Feeds and Email Notification Service—In addition to the email alert system that we offer, Books for Understanding RSS feeds provides a new way for users to stay on top of the most current topics, as well as the "Books of Note" feature.


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