When most of us think about publishing houses, we think of the big names in trade publishing. Hachette. Penguin Random House. HarperCollins. Macmillan. Simon & Schuster. But other types of presses also play a valuable and necessary role in creating diverse books. Some of these publishers are university presses.
A university press differs from a trade publisher in some fairly broad ways. University presses are typically nonprofits that do not seek to bring in huge revenue streams. As the name implies, they are affiliated with academic institutions, and as a result, often publish books in translation, nonfiction, regional, or other academic works. Some university presses also publish poetry and fiction though these books generally make up a small portion of their titles. Despite not bringing in the revenue of The Big Five trade publishers, university presses play a valuable role in cultivating the materials that find their way to library shelves and online vendors.
This week celebrates universities presses and all that they had to the world of reading. University Press Week was established in 1978 by US President Jimmy Carter who sought to recognize “the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.” This year that week of appreciation runs from November 14 through November 19 and seeks to recognize the importance of different types of community: regional communities, cultural communities, and communities among readers. To celebrate this week, different publishing associations and university presses have prepared events and reading lists to share. Though I am highlighting a few of the items that I think will be most interesting to readers and writers, there are many other ways to participate in University Press Week that you can explore.
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Serious Books for the Serious Reader – YouTube Live (Wednesday, November 16, 2:00pm Eastern time)
This open webinar will discuss how readers are the most essential communities for authors, bookstores, and publishers. A set of panelists will discuss how good books get from the author to the reader and will include topics like how university presses market and promote trade books, how general readers discover books, and how to pitch books to sales reps and other buyers. You can watch the livestream here.
Scholars and Editors on Social Media – YouTube Live (Friday, November 18, 12:00pm Eastern Time)
If you have some free time at the end of the week (or hit a Friday slump), this open webinar could also be of interest to you. A group of editors and scholars will describe the role that social media such as Twitter and Facebook play in the acquisitions of new books. You can watch the livestream here.
Reading and Resources
Princeton University Press, “Books for Understanding: A Reading List”
Princeton UP has put together a list of books that help explain the current political climate in the United States. Since the recent US election is still fresh in the minds of many Americans, this could be a helpful list. See some of the titles listed here.
Association of American University Presses, “The University Press Community 2016 Infographic”
If you want to learn more about university presses, you can explore the AAUP’s recent infographic about who these presses are and what they publish. You can see the visual here.
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I encourage you to check out some of what University Press Week has to offer. I think that YouTube panels (especially the discussion of the role of social media) look particularly interesting. If you know of other ways to participate in University Press Week or if you have a favorite press, please share it. Having the opportunity to learn more is always a gift.
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Image Attribution: Thomas Malton, “Clarendon Printing House, Oxford, with a Glimpse of the Shel,” Iconographic Collections, University of Oxford, 1802.