Edition of space science books


AGU has been publishing books for more than six decades on Earth and space science topics. The four members of the AGU Books editorial board from the disciplines of space science decided to examine our own portfolio of books and other science publishers to better understand the landscape of book publishing in these disciplines and to use this information to develop a plan to expand our range. space science books over the next few years.

Space science books in AGU’s portfolio

Our investigation began with our own dossier, focusing on AGU’s flagship and oldest series, the Geophysical Monograph Series. 256 volumes have been published since its launch in 1956 until the end of 2020, of which 63 were related to space science topics, with six volumes (Vol. 1, 2, 7, 141, 196and 214) combining both Earth and space-related topics in the same volume.

For the next stage of our analysis, we have divided space science into broad thematic areas according to four AGU sections – Aeronomy, Magnetospheric Physics, Planetary Sciences, and Solar and Heliospheric Physics. We decided to combine aeronomy and magnetospheric physics into a single category of geospatial.

Over the lifetime of the geophysical monograph series, the proportions of space science books focusing exclusively on geospace, planetary science, and solar/heliospheric physics are 51%, 7%, and 3.5%, respectively. The remaining 38.5% are books of an interdisciplinary nature, that is, they combine the main thematic areas in the same volume. (The six books that combine Earth and space topics are not included in these numbers.)

The Venn diagram focuses on the 12 books published in the last decade (2011-2020) (Not included are two books (vols. 196, 214) which combined subjects related to space and earth sciences).

Geospace-oriented books make up the largest segment (vol. 199, 201, 215, 220, 244, 248) and six additional geospatial books have an interdisciplinary focus (vol. 197, 207, 216, 222, 230, 235).

No books were published in the geophysical monograph series focusing solely on planetary or solar/heliospheric topics during the decade, although a five-volume collection on space physics and aeronomy was published in the spring. 2021 outside the scope of this analysis.

How do we compare to other publishers?

Of course, AGU is not the only company or publisher producing space science books, so we decided to look at the breakdown among the major academic publishers using the same thematic division as above. We have done our best to research the huge book market using various web tools, but cannot guarantee the accuracy of these statistics. Also note that AGU entered into a publishing partnership with John Wiley & Sons in 2013, so we treat Wiley and AGU as one entity in the charts below.

The graphs suggest that some publishers have developed a reputation in particular areas, with existing series or collections that keep publishers/book authors coming back and attract new people. It is important for a publisher or author to find the most appropriate publishing partner for their book project who can offer the production, marketing and distribution services they are looking for. We hope that scientists from all of these disciplines will consider AGU-Wiley, as we have much to offer.

Where are we going?

AGU/Wiley have published an average of 1-2 books per year over the past four decades in space science, with a breakdown of 0-4 books per year. This is a modest publication rate that we would like to increase.

The graph shows the current distribution (orange) shifted by two books per year to a proposed distribution (yellow). During this decade, we would like to see an average of 3-4 books published per year, but sometimes even more if possible.

We also want this growth to be more balanced across all areas of space science to move away from the bias toward geospatial books seen in the past. By adding one book each on planetary and solar/heliospheric topics, we would already achieve our goal. Therefore, we want to expand in these areas, and we are putting increased effort into our awareness of planetary and solar communities, which could help shift the distribution as shown in the chart.

How to achieve our goals?

Overall, we want to engage the space science communities in publishing more books with AGU-Wiley. To achieve our goals, we actively engage in outreach by offering book titles to potential publishers/authors. Nevertheless, our backbone is always the unsolicited approach by scientists with new book ideas. For example, we hope that the new planetary and solar spacecraft missions now underway (as well as those planned) can produce results, analyzes and reviews that might be suitable for publication in book form.

Although we have numerical goals to increase the number of space science books in our portfolio, we remain focused on quality over quantity. After all, books should be useful and sought after by the scientific community.

We want to encourage scientists who have never considered publishing a book. The process of organizing and writing/editing a book is very rewarding and increases one’s own network of scientific collaboration and reputation. Please contact any member of the Space Science Editorial Board directly, or email [email protected], if you have ideas for new books.

―Andreas Keiling ([email protected]; 0000-0002-8710-5344), Bea Gallardo-Lacourt ( 0000-0003-3690-7547), Xianzhe Jia ( 0000-0002-8685-1484), and Valery Nakariakov ( 0000-0001-6423-8286), Publishers, AGU Books


Keiling, A., B. Gallardo-Lacourt, X. Jia and V. Nakariakov (2021), Book Publishing in Space Science, Eos, 102, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021EO159662. Posted June 16, 2021.

Text © 2021. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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