Celebrating University Press Week

This week in North Philly Notes, we celebrate University Press Week!

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The theme of University Press Week 2016 is Community: from the community of a discipline to a regional home and culture, from the shared discourse of a campus to a bookstore’s community of readers.

The Association of American University Presses community uses the #ReadUP hashtag to highlight on social media the best of what our members are publishing all year long. It beautifully captures what we celebrate when we celebrate University Press Week: the scholarship, writing, and deep knowledge that is shared with the world through our books and publications. Follow #UPWeek for more news and info about the 2016 celebration!

Check out these videos featuring members of the Temple University Press staff talking about what working at a University Press means to them:

Sara Cohen, Editor

Gary Kramer, Publicist

Mary Rose Muccie, Director

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A Q&A with UNSETTLED author Eric Tang for University Press Week

In this Q&A, Eric Tang, author of Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghettotalks with Temple University Press publicist Gary Kramer about the value of publishing with a University Press and the books that were influential to him as a scholar and reader.

GK: Why publish with a University Press? 

ET: Professors are expected to publish (their first book at least) with a University press. The expectation is that our books should be making a contribution to a certain academic field. At the same time, however, there’s this pull I feel to speak to a much broader audience—especially because I situate myself in the field of race and ethnic studies—and this led to my decision to publish with Temple.

GK: What made you choose to publish Unsettled with Temple University Press?

Unsettled_smET: Temple University Press has a long track record in race and ethnic studies. Its Asian American Studies history and culture series is the oldest and most established of its kind. When I first started reading about race, racism and social movements as an undergrad in the 1990s, TUP published some of my favorite titles. But more importantly, I noticed how those outside of academia were also familiar with these TUP titles—activist, community organizers, and artists were also reading the Press’ books. So I’ve always thought of TUP as more than an academic press; it was clear to me that it had a reach with other audiences, and this is why TUP was at the top of my list when I was looking for a home for Unsettled.

GK: What observations do you have about your experiences with a university press?

ET: There are a lot of things that go into making one’s decision on which press to sign with. Having gone through the process, I feel certain that the decision should hinge on whether or not the editor you will be working with really wants and gets your project. You can tell from your initial conversation with the editor if they are excited about the unique argument and contribution you desire to make in your book—if they would actually look forward to reading your book regardless of who you published with. Granted, professors are known to have healthy egos and many of us believe that everybody wants to read our books, but there’s a way in which that initial conversation with a potential editor should go—I would define it as less salesmanship and more geek—that should tip you off and make you feel certain that this particular editor and press is right for you. That’s the kind of situation that I had with my editor at Temple.

GK: What do you see as the benefits and challenges of university press publishing?

ET: The clear benefit of publishing with the university press is that it gets your book directly into the hands of your core audience: colleagues, graduate students, and undergraduates. The press promotes your books through academic journals and at conferences, and it gets your book reviewed by peers. The university press is set up do to all of this, which is terrific.

As for challenges, the university press is obviously smaller than the trade press and therefore under-resourced. This means that whatever advance you might receive will be relatively small (and usually a first-time author won’t receive any advance) and there is very little money they offer to support authors on the production end—with essential pieces like paying for permissions and indexing. Authors have to absorb the cost of these things (or find external funding to support these items).

Also, the university press does not have a lot of advertising dollars to promote your book beyond the core academic audience. Still, if a certain university press has a marketing team with extensive experience and contacts, this can more than make up for what that press may lack in raw dollars. I think it’s a mistake to think that a small university press can’t get a book reviewed in the New York Times or covered on National Public Radio. I’ve seen it happen a lot, and TUP is an excellent example of a press that reaches large markets despite its relatively small size.

GK: How involved were you as an author with elements such as cover design, editing, layout, endorsements, and other aspects related to the publication of your book.

ET: As for the cover design and other design elements, I think it’s important for the author to be very clear about the look he or she desires. Pick out some images that you wish to have on the cover, and present the press with some examples of other book covers that you really admire so that its design people have a clear sense of what you want. Even go so far as to make some font suggestions. However, once you do this—once you are clear about what you want—I think it’s important for you (the author) to get out of the way and let the press do its work. Don’t try to micro-manage the process or think that you are in a position to go back and forth a dozen times with the designer until they get it just right. This was my general disposition to the book design process with TUP, and it paid off for me. I was very impressed with the cover they came up with and I didn’t ask them to change a thing.

GK: How has university press publishing helped your career?

ET: To the extent that publishing a book with a university press is essential to meeting the criteria for promotion and tenure at a major research university, then publishing with TUP has already paid off for me. But beyond climbing the career ladder, it has also put me in touch with other scholars who I would have never met or heard from otherwise. In fact, the other day I received an email from a faculty member from the University of Hong Kong who read Unsettled and gave me wonderful feedback.

GK: What are your thoughts on the university press community as a whole?

ET: I think the university press has been in a steady process of moving away from its reputation as publishing house for arcane scholarly work that isn’t accessible to the public. Increasingly, I see it taking on issues that are at the center of the public discourse: police violence, immigration, LGBT issues. But as is it takes on these issues, it holds its authors accountable to scholarly rigor. Writers are expected to tell new stories, offer new ways of looking at these matters, while at the same time being in conversation with the existing scholarship. In other words, one gets the best of both worlds with the university press.

GK: What books are you currently reading?

I’m currently re-reading two disparate works in preparation for my next manuscript. I’m putting these two works in conversation with each other (at least in my own head!): Sylvia Winter: On Being Human As Praxis edited by Katherine McKittrick and Mike Tyson’s autobiography Undisputed Truth. Both books are revelatory and devastating on their own, and placed together they are a true gift.

GK: Was there a particularly significant titles that influenced your work and career? 

542_regET: George Lipsitz’s A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition was formative for me. For an example of how good scholarship should read—how it should hew to the sensibilities of  those it writes about—I consistently turn to Robin Kelley’s Race Rebels. For pure inspiration, Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak! made me understand what writing was all about, what it does for the political. Of course it made me want to be a writer, and at the same time scared me to death about what that meant, what it really takes. I guess you can say I am still stuck in the mid-1990s! It’s true for the music, too—hip hop between 1994-1996 is still the pinnacle for me.

GK: What would folks be surprised to discover you reading/on your bookshelf?

ET: I will read anything. From the brilliant books mentioned above to worst, most destructive self-help books you can imagine (precisely why I get to airports early for my flights — to catch up on the latest self-help degeneracy). I’m also a bit of a fanboy, I read comics. Right now, I love Saga (Image comics): all about race, gender, biopolitics and liberal warfare. I will teach it one day. The X-Men, of course. I’m staring at a stack of comics about Wolverine I just picked up at Austin’s comic con, they are resting on top of Lisa Lowe’s The Intimacies of Four Continents.

Celebrating University Press Week: UP Design

November 8-14 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

Today’s theme is: UP Design

Northwestern University Press A Q&A with our book cover designer and Creative Director, Marianne Jankowski, in which she will discuss her own design background and answer several questions such as, “How is working on a trade cover different from a scholarly cover?” and “What are some of the trends in university press design that you’ve noticed?” Marianne has over 25 years experience in book design.

Princeton University Press Designer Chris Lapinski will introduce and launch the PUP design department’s new Tumblr blog, which will highlight PUP design across all departments, while delving into the conversation on visual culture in book publishing. Chris will reflect on the art of design and its place in book history.

Georgetown University Press Hope LeGro, Director of Georgetown Languages, discusses what it takes for editors to get textbook content ready for the designer so that the book and the coordinating ancillary materials create the best possible learning experience.

Syracuse University Press We’ll feature past award-winning designs and some recent successful trade designs.

Stanford University Press A Q&A with freelance designers, Anne Jodan and Mitch Goldstein, who’ve designed a number of notable book jackets for SUP.

Harvard University Press One of our designers will walk us through the ideas and designs she abandoned on her way to completing a recent jacket.

Yale University Press will blog about UP book design.

Help us Celebrate!

  • Use the hashtag #ReadUP that presses have been using all year to talk about the work we publish—maybe use it to draw your book into University Press Week conversations.
  • Tell the story of publishing with us with the hashtag #PublishUP.
  • Join our #UPshelfie campaign (we are continuing this campaign from last year if you Google #UPshelfie you will find them!). Show us what university press books are on your shelf!
  • Subscribe to the University Press Week newsletter here, keep an eye out for the 2015 UP Week infographic, and attend one of our online events.

Celebrating University Press Week: The Future of Scholarly Publishing

November 8-14 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

Today’s theme is: The Future of Scholarly Publishing

Indiana University Press offers a post by IUP director Gary Dunham.

Oxford University Press features a blog post by Editorial Director Sophie Goldsworthy on broad trends in scholarly publishing.

George Mason University Press has a blog post by Mason Publishing on a global survey of digital tools use in scholarly communication and research workflows.

University Press of Colorado reflects on their 50th anniversary this year, and what the future might hold for us and the UP community in general.

University Press of Kansas UPK Director Chuck Myers will author today’s post.

University of North Carolina UNC Press director John Sherer makes “The Case for Financial Support of Your University Press.”

West Virginia University Press Reflections on the value of acquisitions work and the meaning of curating/gatekeeping in the digital era.

Johns Hopkins University Press A commentary by editorial director Greg Britton.

University of Georgia Press  Post on how UP’s are picking up the slack left by trade publishers because of their aversion to risk when it comes to niches in nonfiction publishing. This post will mention several series we publish but highlight in particular a new series we’re publishing in cooperation with the Library of American Landscape History.

Help us Celebrate!

  • Use the hashtag #ReadUP that presses have been using all year to talk about the work we publish—maybe use it to draw your book into University Press Week conversations.
  • Tell the story of publishing with us with the hashtag #PublishUP.
  • Join our #UPshelfie campaign (we are continuing this campaign from last year if you Google #UPshelfie you will find them!). Show us what university press books are on your shelf!
  • Subscribe to the University Press Week newsletter here, keep an eye out for the 2015 UP Week infographic, and attend one of our online events.

Celebrating University Press Week: Surprise!

November 8-14 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

Today’s theme: Surprise!

University Press of Florida provides recipes and photos from recent UPF cookbooks that have changed how people view the Sunshine State, highlighting a thriving food scene that has often gone unnoticed amid the state’s highly-publicized beaches and theme parks.

University Press of New England blogs about the unusual success of a book from our trade imprint, ForeEdge—the book titled Winning Marriage, by Marc Solomon, tracing the years-long, state-by-state legal battle for marriage equality in America. Surprises came in many forms: from the serendipitous timing of the book’s publication with the Supreme Court ruling to the book’s ability to resonate with general readers and legal scholars alike—and many others surprises in between.

University Press of Mississippi Steve Yates, marketing director at University Press of Mississippi, describes how the Press has partnered with Lemuria Books in Jackson and writers across the state to create the Mississippi Books page at the Clarion Ledger.

University Press of Kentucky We’re surprising everyone with a pop quiz about some surprising facts about AAUP Member Presses.

University of Nebraska Press We’re more than our books! Find out about the UNP staff and who we are.

University of California Press UC Press’ Luminos and Collabra OA publishing platforms (inclusion in slideshow AAUP is creating)

University of Wisconsin Press Mystery fiction is a surprise hit, and a surprisingly good fit, at the University of Wisconsin Press. Our sleuths in several series include a duo of globe-trotting art history experts, a Wisconsin sheriff in a favorite tourist destination, a gay literature professor, and a tough detective who quotes Shakespeare and Melville.

Help us Celebrate!

  • Use the hashtag #ReadUP that presses have been using all year to talk about the work we publish—maybe use it to draw your book into University Press Week conversations.
  • Tell the story of publishing with us with the hashtag #PublishUP.
  • Join our #UPshelfie campaign (we are continuing this campaign from last year if you Google #UPshelfie you will find them!). Show us what university press books are on your shelf!
  • Subscribe to the University Press Week newsletter here, keep an eye out for the 2015 UP Week infographic, and attend one of our online events.

3rd Day of University Press Week – Spotlight on Subject Areas

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It’s University Press Week! All week long university presses will be participating in the UP Week Blog Tour, where presses will be blogging each day about a different theme that relates to scholarly publishing. For the full Blog Tour schedule, click here.


November 13 – Subject Area Spotlight:
Wilfrid Laurier University Press: Cheryl Lousley, editor of the Environmental Humanities series, writes about the engagement of environmental issues through the humanities disciplines, such as literature, film, and media studies. She outlines the genesis of the series and discusses some of the most recent publications.

University of Georgia Press: Nik Heynen, series co-editor, will discuss the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation series and how it relates to UGA Press.

Texas A&M University PressCharles Porter, Texas historian and author of the forthcoming book Sharing the Common Pool: Water Rights in the Everyday Lives of Texans, discusses the many facets of Texas history explored in books and series published by Texas A&M University Press.

MIT Press: Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director, writes about the possibilities of the web MIT Press authors are using for scholarship, finding newly mediated ways to teach,
conduct research, present data, and engage with various publics.

University of Pennsylvania Press: Penn Press acquisitions editors discuss the foundations and future of some of the press’s key subject areas.

University of Toronto Press: will discuss the Medieval and Renaissance Studies lists at University of Toronto Press.


Follow the University Press Week blog tour to learn about the importance of university presses. For a complete list of University Press Week events, visit universitypressweek.org

The Future of Scholarly Communication

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It’s University Press Week! All week long university presses will be participating in the UP Week Blog Tour, where presses will be blogging each day about a different theme that relates to scholarly publishing. For the full Blog Tour schedule, click here.

 

A Future Where University Presses
and University Libraries Work Together

by Alex Holzman, Director

The future of scholarly communication depends to a significant degree on how well university press publishers and university librarians can cooperate to create a sustainable means of transmitting scholarship to the broadest possible audience.  Because our communities tend to focus on different parts of the current system, we sometimes disagree on the best means to achieve that goal, but as units of the university we both must and do share it.

library imagePresses have a horizontal focus, competing for the best scholarship across entire disciplines while also being careful to choose disciplines that reflect their home universities’ strengths.  Libraries focus first on meeting the needs of the home university’s scholars and students, though to be sure they invite researchers across the intellectual world to utilize their resources.  Library collections service every academic discipline within the university; presses just a few and with some exceptions those few are overwhelmingly in the humanities and social sciences.  This at the same time that libraries spend most of their acquisitions budgets on STM materials.

For too many years, presses and libraries operated on entirely different tracks within their home universities.  Now mutual need and complementary strengths bring them together.  There have been a variety of experiments ranging from making s a press’s monographs available to at least the local community via open access to the intriguing situation at Purdue, where the Press director is also the director of scholarly communication, allowing the dissemination of materials ranging from data sets, local conference proceedings, and the like right through to fully peer-reviewed “traditional” scholarship, to be united in one place.  Surely, this is a more efficient way of doing things than having presses and libraries continue on entirely separate tracks.

A growing number of university presses report directly into the library.  This has benefits for a press—increased access to IT support, more investment capital—and benefits for the library—increased understanding of the costs involved in reviewing and polishing scholarship and an introduction into the need to incur marketing expenses if scholarship is to be disseminated broadly. Both benefit from increased opportunities for the two similar but different cultures to adjust to each other.

There have also been successes on the level of the aggregate library and press communities.  The University Press Content Consortium (UPCC) was developed by multiple presses and now serves roughly one hundred; its model was developed by consulting with the entire academic library community and an international array of libraries are participating in purchasing the collections.  Books at JSTOR and Oxford Scholarship Online have also drawn on presses and libraries to improve scholarly dissemination.  Both the ARL and AAUP have made attempts to engage their counterparts in various meetings and conferences—more of that is needed.

Where can presses and libraries further extend their cooperation even further?  Open access models beg for further exploration.  There are at least two proposals currently circulating that explore ways in which monographs can be underwritten by institutional investment, allowing for true open access.  Where that investment comes from and how we move from an end user pays to an institution pays model for cost recovery are sticking points, but only by working together will we find durable solutions.  One effort in this direction that is just getting off the ground is Knowledge Unlatched, which combines elements of subscription models, deluxe versus basic design, and library and press cooperation to achieve open access as well.  (Full disclosure—Temple is a participant in both the aforementioned UPCC and KU.)

I’d suggest enough progress has been made that it is time for the two communities to start working together seriously to solve the economic elephant in the room of scholarly communication, namely STM publishing.  For reasons somewhat lost to history, university presses largely abandoned science publishing around the time of World War II.  There are exceptions of course—Cambridge, Oxford, Chicago, Duke all have strong science journals among their offerings—but few mid-size or small presses do.  Instead, science journals are largely published by commercial publishers whose first concern is enriching their shareholders.  It’s time to change that.

What if presses cooperated on certain aspects of the costs of starting university press alternatives in STM publishing, taking note of the ways library consortial activities have worked over the many more years that community has engaged in inter-institutional cooperation.  Could we form alliances with learned societies also looking for new publishing models that will preserve the income they need to serve their members, but lighten the burden on library budgets?

This wouldn’t be quick or easy or cheap and it would have to be done in a way that didn’t, at the beginning, just add costs to library budgets. But the potential payoff is large enough that a clear demonstration of library and university press commitment to such a venture might attract the start-up funding it needs.

There are probably infinite ways libraries and presses can cooperate to the benefit of each; surely there are more than I can imagine here. What’s already been done demonstrates that libraries and university presses not only need each other, but can achieve great things if they broaden their partnerships. Creating a new scholarly communication system will require the expertise of all university parties involved in the old one, along with a willingness to embrace ideas and methods of operation that may at first be uncomfortable.  To borrow a phrase, it will take a village.


Follow the University Press Week blog tour to learn about the importance of university presses. For a complete list of University Press Week events, visit universitypressweek.org

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