As the publishing world progresses into an era of new publishing avenues and writing platforms, one hidden gem remains stronger than ever…the university press. This week kicks off the second annual University Press Week, or UP week (hashtag #UPweek), sponsored by the Association of American University Presses. The AAUP launched University Press Week in 2012 during its 75th anniversary celebration.
The weeklong festivity honors all of the amazing works that come from the university press community, including titles like The History of Oxford University Press by Oxford University Press and A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning published by Harvard University Press.
The World’s Oldest Media Business
Many university presses have been around for more than a hundred years, some even longer than that. University presses have been putting out quality titles throughout history. They are, according to Peter Phillips, CEO of Cambridge University Press, the world’s oldest media business. Cambridge University Press (CUP) is no stranger to historical success in publishing. It has continued to triumphantly publish works since 1584. It is the oldest university press in the world, as well as the oldest publishing house.
In the U.S., the oldest university press is Johns Hopkins University Press, which has put out several notable titles, including Abraham Lincoln: A Life, by Michael Burlingame. Burlingame’s made the list of top five for The Atlantic’s “Books of the Year” list in 2009 . Other well-known university presses, such as Oxford University Press (OUP) and Harvard University Press (HUP), have also had titles hit mainstream lists on many occasions . HUP’s imprint Belknap got a nod on The New York Times “100 Notable Books of 2009” for its title, The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Beard.
Supporting University Presses
The university press community is really an integral part of the publishing world, though it gains little in the way of mainstream recognition. There is a wide range of innovative works that come out of university presses.
University presses add so much value to the academic experience, but even beyond that, they foster ideas, innovation, and research in subjects that make up our historical DNA as a society.
An article published by The Florida Bookshelf in 2012 mentions how university presses prepare some for the great big publishing world. “In addition to supporting the educational missions of our respective universities, [university] presses…offer a valuable pre-professional experience to students hoping to enter the publishing industry.”
As members of the publishing world, we should be supporting university presses in every way possible because they are mutually beneficial and they create a rich world of scholarly importance through their tomes.
Here’s how you can support the university press of your choice:
- Buy their books. Many of them offer e-books now, as well as the ability to purchase works directly from their websites. You can support your alma mater, favorite university sports team, or any university you choose.
- Subscribe to their journals. In addition to books, most presses put out a scholarly journal. The information in these journals is beneficial on more than just an academic level, as some of the peer-reviewed articles offer crucial information and studies on important sociological dynamics.
- Donate. As nonprofit publishers, presses at universities often depend on donations and gifts. Book sales may only account for a small portion of their profits.
- Attend events. Some university presses have special events. Attending these events allows for meaningful engagement with authors and faculty of the press and is a good way to support the press and their mission.
AAUP University Press Week information: http://www.aaupnet.org/events-a-conferences/university-press-week/university-press-week-2013
AAUP calendar of events for #UPweek: http://www.aaupnet.org/events-a-conferences/university-press-week/university-press-week-2013/calendar-of-events
AAUP The Digital Digest blog tour info: https://aaupdigitaldigest.wordpress.com/tag/blog-tour/