Harvard University Press kicked off the Blog Tour with a terrific post from Anthony Grafton, past president of the American Historical Association and longtime HUP-author, in which he recalls how university press books introduced him to a world of discovery and argument as a young man, and explains how the importance of UPs in that process of discovery has only grown.
In our post-optimistic, pre-revolutionary, ante-Apocalyptic, late pollution, early warning signs, post-election end times as we try to determine what is wrong with politics as know it and imagine life in a different time zone, one that is not marked by lost hopes, disappointments, resentment, regret and anger but instead finds different things to believe in and different ways of making those things become reality, it is as good a time as any to think about how radical knowledge emerges, circulates and lives on.
Two words: university presses.
Stanford University Press continues the fun with an article from Steve Levingston, the book review editor at the Washington Post who is a staunch supporter and promoter of university press books. His point that university press books touch upon so much of the news of the day (or past days if you peruse the archives of the Political BookWorm) is well-made.
University of Georgia Press addresses one of the familiar criticisms of university press publishing — its sustainability. Guest blogger Claire Bond Potter argues that smaller is better and, more importantly, sustainable:
…small publishing houses are where innovative books grow. In a media world where big is not always better, a small press offers sustainability and quality, reaching out to wonderful writers who can’t guarantee mass sales. Furthermore, small presses are conserving publishing’s original economic model. They produce beautiful books in small runs. They have the occasional best seller that allows them to lose money on other worthy books. They assemble and retain staffs that are committed to the author, to the reader and to ideas.
That’s a model that university presses never abandoned. It works. And we love making it work.
And the last stop on Day 1 of the tour is University of Missouri Press where they tackle the overarching question hovering over University Press Week–Why Do We Need University Presses? The post there by Ned Stuckey-French and sales representative Bruce Miller is particularly important and inspirational given their roles in the recent dismantling of and reinstatement of the University of Missouri Press. They worked tirelessly to marshal information, resources, and people and mobilize the ultimately successful campaign to save the University of Missouri Press. Their 5 point list includes:
1. University presses preserve and disseminate knowledge.
2. University presses are defenders of free speech, academic freedom, and spirited discussion
3. University presses serve a readership outside the university.
4. University presses have a special role in land-grant institutions.
5. University presses play an essential role in developing and evaluating faculty.
Particularly touching is their assertion that, “If poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, university presses are the uncelebrated record-keepers of world history and culture.”
So, this week is a week to bring our activities to the fore and to celebrate these “record-keepers”. Join in the fun by checking out the various activities and initiatives here: http://universitypressweek.org.
For a complete schedule of the Blog Tour events, please click here.