Yes, we are a publisher of textbooks, trade books, field guides, and everything in between (even a few novels!). But what really distinguishes what we–and all our University Press colleagues– do is that we publish important books. Our membership organization, The Association of American University Presses, has just published an impressive Books for Understanding list of about 1100 titles from university presses that contribute to our understanding of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and their influence throughout the last decade.
This tremendous resource includes smart, revelatory books aimed at the general reader as well as targeted academic works from a variety of disciplines. It is a wonderful place to browse for reading recommendations or to use as a bibliography if you are a researcher or journalist. You can browse the complete list here: http://www.booksforunderstanding.org/september11/list.html
Books for Understanding is an initiative of the AAUP that was actually born in the early days following 9/11. As journalists and the general public rushed to learn more about what was happening and the key players in the terrorist attack, University Presses were suddenly inundated for requests for obscure books on the World Trade Center, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, and other relevant topics. Following the recommendation of Sanford Thatcher, then director of Penn State University Press, the AAUP created this bibliography to serve as a regularly updated resource for the scholarly and journalism communities. And in the subsequent decade, Books for Understanding has responded to “in the news” subjects like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing an unparalleled bibliographic resource.
So, like I said, Books for Understanding is one more reason to appreciate University Press publishing and to be proud of what we do.