Introducing ASIA SHORTS: Small Volumes with a Big Message: Strong Scholarship for a Wide Audience

By Bill Tsutsui, Asia Shorts series editor and Jon Wilson, AAS Publications Manager

In our information-saturated lives, there is much to appreciate in the expression of important, timely, and complex ideas in forms that are focused, clear, and concise. Brevity need not signify superficiality nor suggest any lack of ambition or effort. As the philosopher Blaise Pascal once famously stated, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

In recent years, the academic publishing industry has awakened to the changing demands of readers and to the evolving preferences of scholarly authors, a number of whom have been eager to explore formats somewhere in length between a journal article and a monograph. The AAS has been a leader in this trend with its Key Issues in Asian Studies series, publishing short, accessible volumes designed for use in undergraduate or high school classrooms. With more than twenty titles now in print—on subjects ranging from the histories of China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam, to Confucius, the Mongol Empire and to Chinese and Japanese literature—Key Issues in Asian Studies has proven extremely popular with instructors and effective with students.

To leverage the success of the Key Issues series, the AAS has launched another book series: ASIA SHORTS.

Asia Shorts are concise, readable books, written by highly qualified authors—scholars, teachers, journalists, and policymakers—that engage broad audiences with up-to-date scholarship on important, timely topics in Asian Studies. Asia Shorts bring fresh insights and forceful arguments, anchored in a strong base of evidence and current research, to specialist and non-specialist readers alike, offering nuanced and accessible analyses of interest to a broad readership.

Asia Shorts titles are intended to have an edge, a clear point of view, a well-defined (and even provocative) argument that will engage readers with the compelling issues, critical debates, and profound complexities of Asia and Asian Studies. As one might describe Asia Shorts in a tweet: “Small volumes with a big message, strong scholarship for a wide audience.”

The first volume in the series—Jeffrey Alexander’s Drinking Bomb and Shooting Meth: Alcohol and Drug Use in Postwar Japan—was the winner of the 2019 ICAS Book Prize for “Most Accessible and Captivating Work for the Non-Specialist Reader.” To date, AAS has published eight volumes in the series, with more in the pipeline on topics as varied as Chinese science fiction, depictions of Japan on American TV, cinema in Pakistan, and environmental politics in South Asia. 

In addition to reading Asia Shorts, we would like to encourage you to consider writing a book for the series.

  • Do you have an exciting project that is more than an article but not quite a monograph?
  • Is there a burning academic debate you would like to explore or explain, extinguish, or stoke?
  • Do you know of a pressing issue where scholarly perspectives could enrich public discussions and enhance public understanding?
  • What do you care a lot about and know a lot about and yearn to bring to a broad audience in 35,000-75,000 accessible, jargon-free words?

If you feel inspired by the possibilities, please visit the Asia Shorts section of the AAS website, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us — Bill Tsutsui and Jon Wilson — to float ideas, discuss potential topics or authors, or ask any questions that you might have about Asia Shorts or the AAS publications program in general.

Save 20 percent on our AAS featured titles when you use coupon code AAS at checkout now through May 1, 2021.

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