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SAE Tomorrow Today: Meet Sherry Nigam, Head of SAE Books

Posted: April 8, 2022

Sherry Nigam’s passion for knowledge started at an early age.

As the daughter of the local newspaper printer and the library bookmobile driver, Nigam spent a lot of time in her youth around the written word, and those who were passionate about it. She developed her own love of reading and incorporated that love into her 30-year career in publishing, culminating in her current role as Head of Books at SAE International.

The team behind the SAE Tomorrow Today podcast caught up with Nigam to talk about her work anticipating trends critical to aerospace and ground vehicle mobility, searching out authors who are experts in their fields, and helping them develop the books they think they don’t have time to write. Get a preview with snippets from that conversation here and check out the latest episode of SAE Tomorrow Today for the full story.


TT: Not many people may know this, but books have a two-year ramp-up time from concept to publication. In the case of SAE’s award-winning book, Racing Against Zero: The Untold Story of Driving Green, what did you see two years ago that made you pursue it?

SN: It starts with the passion of the authors---both authors love engines, and there are many photos of Kelly Senecal hugging engines! Two years ago, no one was thinking about the environmental impact of manufacturing batteries. We wanted to educate the audience on the big picture. The book released last year at the height of “zero emission” commitments from industries and governments. The timing for the release of this book could not have been better.

TT: How do you curate the pipeline of books?

SN: At any given time, I have to have three years’ worth of books in the pipeline. I read every proposal that comes in. Some books drop off the list and other new ones come in. I receive proposals and ideas on LinkedIn or SAE Members e-mail me directly with ideas. I also look at what SAE is doing at conventions. Who are the keynote speakers? What are the hot topics being presented? I read SAE EDGE™ Research Reports that look at a slice of unsettled topics out there that may be a precursor to a new book.

TT: Some of our books have such a long shelf life. For instance, Fundamentals of Vehicle Design, published in 1992 and Race Car Vehicle Design published in 1994 are still selling. Why?

SN: When I first met Thomas Gillespie, the author of Fundamentals of Vehicle Design, about updating the book, without hesitation he said math doesn’t change and he’s right. Physics doesn’t change so the equations stand the test of time and apply to new technologies. Every engineer can use great foundational materials.

TT: The publishing industry is changing. How has this impacted SAE Books?

SN: SAE has offered our customer the option of downloading an eBook or ordering a printed book for several years now. While the nationally printed books outsell ebooks 4 to 1, our customers prefer printed books 9 out of 10 times. We continue to listen to the needs of our customers and will continue to deliver content in ways that best fits their needs.

TT: How do you see SAE Books growing and evolving in the upcoming years?
SN: I rely on feedback from our member to tell me what’s next – either through conversations or surveys. I’ll talk to university librarians to find out what types of books engineering industries are asking them to find. We will continue to do what we do best -- provide technical content to students and professionals on all facets of mobility engineering while also publishing books addressing unique topics like the role of DEI in our industry.


Love books? Are you Nigam’s next author? Follow her on LinkedIn or connect directly at