Katrina van Grouw on the difficulty of answering a simple question

Artist/scientist/author/illustrator… To me, names are important, and it’s vital to be described by one that fits. Ironically it seems to be my lot in life to evade classification.

Throughout Women’s History Month, join Princeton University Press as we celebrate scholarship by and about women.

“What do you do for a living?”

It’s a harmless enough question; one that ideally requires a short answer, like “astronaut” or “driving instructor”. And yet, the closest thing to a concise answer that emerges from my ensuing stream of incoherent mumbling are the words: “I produce books.”

I produce books; beautiful books that communicate beautiful science to everyday people. (I’m actually a very good communicator, both in writing and in front of an audience, but the reason why this particular question always throws me off balance will hopefully become clear as you read on.) Each book takes multiple years to create. I work on them full-time, seven days a week; think about them every minute of every day, and dream about them at night. They’re my obsession, my passion, my entire reason to live.

You might be wondering how a single book can take so long, but these are rather original, large, illustrated books with around 400 drawings in each. I am author, illustrator, conceiver and designer. For the anatomical illustrations, the mounted skeletons are invariably drawn from skeletons that we’ve cleaned and articulated at home (Husband does all the preparation work, though we’re both adept at it) as very few museum specimens are sufficiently accurate, or mounted in the required posture. So we need to obtain the specimens and do months of preparation before the illustration work can even begin.

Cattle lined up in a stall, in various stages of undress, seemed the best way to illustrate the result of “double muscling”, most obvious in the hindquarters of beef cattle. Images like this are only of real use as illustrations in a book, with the sole function of clarifying the text.

Although the drawings are, to many people, the main selling point, there’s a difference between “art books”—collections of an artist’s work on a loose theme—and illustrated books that are created to communicate a message, Mine are not art books, despite being very beautiful. My newest book, Unnatural Selection, in particular, is text-led with the illustrations serving purely to elucidate the writing.

The sorts of images necessary to illustrate a book might also be very different from the pictures an artist will produce for their own sake. Many people assume that I produce tightly detailed anatomical drawings out of choice, as works of art in their own right, and some even assume I’m some sort of arty Goth chick who’s “into skeletons”. I’ll never forget the reaction of a lady at an art demonstration (I was using the opportunity to produce illustrations for The Unfeathered Bird) who stormed out in obvious disgust muttering, “The things people draw!”

I’ve only ever produced anatomical drawings as a means to an end—as a way of communicating (though my books’ illustrations), or investigating the underlying structure of animals that I picture, alive, in my personal artwork. In my previous incarnation, as a fine artist, my creations were very, very different—loose and dark and expressive—though also concerned with the underlying structure of things and inspired by similar subjects to my books. I was deeply engrossed in large drawings of towering sea cliffs and geological formations when Princeton University Press offered to publish The Unfeathered Bird, an idea I’d been incubating for nearly 20 years. The book was supposed to be a temporary diversion, but when the time came to return to my previous artwork I found that the moment had passed. I’d moved on.

There’s a difference between artwork produced for its own sake to hang on the wall, and drawings made exclusively as book illustrations to supplement text. My anatomical drawings were only ever intended for illustration, or as a way of understanding the structure of living animals.

People have mourned this departure from the picture-making art world without appreciating that it’s impossible to move backward, even if I’d wanted to. I’ve evolved in a new direction and discovered something that ticks all the boxes for me creatively and intellectually: books.

Books offer the potential to be far more than the sum of their parts. For me it’s the entire book —the interaction of text with images, the design, the way I choose to express myself, and most of all the concept —that’s the final work of art. I love the challenge of making decisions about the best arrangement of content, or the angle of approach, confident that the answer exists but having to reach it through months of independent thought. Producing books encompasses not just my drawing skills, but writing, research, communication and my intellect most of all, and tests me to my limits. I can think of nothing finer.

The line between art and illustration is a fine one. Many works of fine art can function superbly well as illustrations, and many illustrations are sublime works of art in their own right. The distinction is not in the creations but in the professions. Being an illustrator usually involves working to someone else’s brief and taking instructions from a non-illustrator about how the illustration should be done. Just the thought of it fills me with contempt! I have no imagination when it comes to commissioned work, no passion for other people’s projects, and no inclination to subject myself to other people’s will. The purpose of illustration is to illuminate text, so it’s something of an oxymoron to describe someone primarily as an illustrator when it’s their own text they’re illustrating. For these reasons, and because I’m exceedingly proud of my written work, I dislike being described as a natural history illustrator, preferring to think of myself as an author or as an author/illustrator.

One of the challenges I enjoy most is clarifying a scientific idea through cleverly conceived illustrations. These four Budgerigars (or is it just one?) are showing how pigment layers combine to produce colors.

Even this invites preconceptions, however. When people hear the word “author” they immediately think of fiction. And when the author is a woman, and also illustrates her own books, people think of children’s fiction. After that, explaining that you actually produce books about evolution and morphology for adults is just a confirmation of their automatic expectation that your books are dull, super-specialised, and only of interest to a very limited niche market. Their response is always the same, and if I had a pound for every time someone said this, I’d be very rich indeed:

“You’re not exactly J K Rowling, then.”

To be honest, there are actually very few full time non-fiction authors. Most other authors of evolution books are university professors or researchers who would definitely describe themselves as biologists first and foremost. For many, writing books is something that’s expected of them, as part of their job.

I’d dearly love to have been able to call myself a biologist. I am, however, entirely self-taught so don’t believe I deserve that title (and certainly not the title “anatomist” which I have been called on occasion). Ironically, there are plenty of self-taught artists who claim the title “artist” as their own almost as readily as they pick up a pencil, but anyone without a relevant university degree is considered a fraud if they call themselves a scientist. Names are important, and it’s vital to be described by one that fits, although ironically it seems to be my lot in life to evade classification.

My desire for an academic education was held back – not by any lack of ability, but by a prodigious talent for drawing. The school I attended was a veritable nest of sirens – mesmerising, charismatic teachers who would lure talented and unsuspecting children into their inner sanctum and set about re-creating them in their own image. I’ll never forget the intoxicating evenings at the home of my art teacher, a particularly alluring and manipulative siren named Jill; mesmerized by her beauty, the way her long hair, released from its schoolroom bun, caught the glow of the firelight as we sat listening to Bob Dylan; enraptured by the music of her voice as she languidly spoke of art and poetry and literature, of all the things I must learn to love, and all the things I mustn’t waste my time on. When I finally awoke from the dream and remembered my passion for biology it was too late. It was only after every attempt to scrape in to an academic science education had failed that I at last, very reluctantly, committed myself to a future as a fine artist.

Being self-taught isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. It’s by having to read and reason alone that you learn to question and think, and to draw conclusions from first hand observation. Also, by struggling to learn scientific concepts for yourself you appreciate the parts that are difficult to grasp so you become naturally better able to communicate them to other people. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved on my own and have absolutely no doubt that my books contain a far better scientific message as a result of taking this difficult path than they ever would have otherwise.

So much for “What do you do…” but now we get on to the second part of the question— “for a living?”

Most people judge success purely in terms of whether not you make enough money to live on and, if so, how affluently you manage to live. Producing books is more of a life than a living. It’s not about making money; it’s about bringing something into the world that deserves to exist. Realistically, no-one can honestly claim to earn a sustained income from projects that take so long to complete, so you’re faced with the dilemma of whether to do other paid work—in which case the task will take even longer—or to accept the lack of income and all the feelings of worthlessness that come with it, for the sake of devoting yourself exclusively to that project. I now do the latter, though it wasn’t out of choice.

In fact my personal preference is to have a day job with nice people who say good morning and ask how my weekend was. I’ve endured my share of poverty over the years; I’ve burned the furniture to keep warm and once even masqueraded as a waitress in a busy pub so that I could eat the leftovers from people’s plates. However, it’s not for the money that I like to have a job; it’s mostly because I find I need the company and routine. Neither option is better or more worthy than the other; it’s simply a question of how you prefer to live.

I’ve tried various day jobs. At first I purposely selected the most menial jobs I could in a deliberate effort to keep “job” and “career” separate. The first was plucking chickens on an assembly line at an abattoir. This was followed by a succession of soul-destroying occupations: as a bird bander on a nature reserve for £90/week (that one even came with accommodation: a rat-infested caravan); data entry; photocopying; and, worst of all, being forgotten about altogether and paid to do nothing. Trust me—it’s not as good as it sounds.

Eventually my skills as a self-taught ornithologist and specimen preparator came to my rescue when a job arose as curator of the bird research collections at the British Natural History Museum. At the interview I talked enthusiastically about The Unfeathered Bird (still in its embryonic form) and showed photographs of skins and skeletons I’d prepared. Getting that job made me feel like the Ugly Duckling when it discovered it was a swan. You never saw anyone so happy. The job, I considered, was worth moving back south for, where properties are more expensive; worth downsizing to a tiny house and sacrificing my art studio and etching press. A few years later bad news followed good news on the same day like two barrels of a shotgun. I was invited to write a book (independently from the museum) about the history of bird art. And I was forbidden, by the head of department, from ever producing books in my spare time.

My husband now has “my” job. We’d job-shared in my final year, before I sacrificed the museum for my right to produce books, and fortunately he was able to take over my hours, so as a couple we suffered no loss of earnings. After the head of department had retired, I tried, and failed to get another post at the museum, and had similar fortune elsewhere too, leaving me utterly broken.

By now you might be starting to understand why “What do you do for a living?” is such a difficult question for me. Book royalties come but once a year and as a modern hard-working woman there’s a stigma to having to admit that our household income is virtually all provided by my husband’s job. No-one’s interested in hearing that that job used to be my own. They fill in the gaps with preconceptions: “successful scientist husband (he must be a scientist as he works at the Natural History Museum) generously supporting his (artist) wife’s hobby.”

Many people mourn the fact that I no longer do pictures like this large seascape. But artistic development is a one way trip. For me now, producing books ticks all the creative and intellectual boxes.

I love writing for an audience, so when Princeton University Press asked me to write a blog post for International Women’s Day I agreed instantly, even though I didn’t know what on Earth I’d have to say. I’ve never had a proper career, and never had a family, so I wasn’t able to talk about equal pay, or maternity leave, or sexual harassment at work. So I started writing about myself instead, and discovered that I do have something to say.

Labels, judgements, and stereotypes; pink/blue; dolls/action men; art/science; it’s one thing to loathe preconceptions from others, but how many of us are aware of them in our own behaviour? Equality isn’t just in the hands of employers; it’s the responsibility of every single one of us—women as much as men. Once we start to accept that each and every one of us has a very unique story to tell, we might be less inclined to make generalisations. And finally, what about the prejudices we level at ourselves? As a perfectly-balanced author/illustrator with a matching chip on each shoulder, I can see that change won’t happen overnight. But by challenging my own discomfort about gender expectations, what we do, and who earns the wages, I hope to someday manage to proudly look someone in the eye and say, “I produce books.”

 Katrina van Grouw, author of The Unfeathered Bird (Princeton), inhabits that no-man’s-land midway between art and science. She holds degrees in fine art and natural history illustration and is a former curator of ornithological collections at a major national museum. She’s a self-taught scientist with a passion for evolutionary biology and its history.

Christie Henry talks with Hanna Gray for International Women’s Day

This post is a transcribed excerpt from a forthcoming Open Stacks podcast interview.

I couldn’t be more fortunate to be in the company of Hanna Gray, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago and Jeff Deutsch, director of the seminary co-op. As a proud member of the University of Chicago diaspora, I am in awe and admiration of these two individuals, whose integrity and erudition animate the scholarly culture. We meet on the occasion of the imminent publication of Professor Gray’s memoir, An Academic Life. Professor Gray and I overlapped briefly in 1993 as inhabitants of the 5801 Ellis Avenue Building, now Levi Hall. At the time, the University of Chicago Press occupied two floors of the building, and the University Administration was on the fifth floor. Two months after I joined the Press, Professor Gray stepped away from the presidency. But the resonance of her leadership endured for the entire 25 years I was on campus. She was the first European born and woman to lead the University of Chicago. As our paths intersect again, I now have the privilege of being the first woman to Direct Princeton University Press, and in that capacity, also to be the publisher of Professor Gray’s forthcoming memoir. I have savored reading the pages of this work and learning more about the fortitude and intelligence she used to shape experiences for so many of us at USC and throughout the world.

GrayChristie: We could use hours of conversation given that so many themes of our discussion—particularly the investment in thought and the benefits gained from communal thinking—are resonating beautifully. I wanted to ask you about on the privilege and responsibilities of being first. You were the first European born president of the University of Chicago as well as the first female provost at Yale and first female president at Chicago. You talk about these opportunities that you have had as you being in the right place at the right time. And I think that that’s often the way I have described my own narrative, as I too have been lucky to be in the right place at the right time. But if one of the responsibilities we carry is to try to create that right place and right time for others to enjoy these opportunities—and especially now as we’re thinking about how to intentionally diversify the demographics of publishing and of the university—what were some of your experiences of creating those right places and right times? Consider this my plea for advice as to how to be intentional and less serendipitous in creating opportunities for others.

Hanna: I’m the first European born president of the University of Chicago but we haven’t had a lot of presidents. So it’s not the biggest deal right? [laughs] I think my work at Yale was more complicated because it was a very early stage in the coeducation of Yale. Women wanted to be seen so much as integral parts of the university, but there were not a lot of women—to put it mildly—on the faculty.

The women surrounding the university wanted things to happen very quickly. And obviously my role was to be concerned for the whole university not only for those who were women.

And at the same time, I felt that I could understand the situation of women much more than my male colleagues had over the years, and obviously a lot needed to be done at Yale. And so there was always this tension between my knowing that and working to address it. And the sense on the part of many women was that not enough was being done because they hoped for almost overnight change, which is of course impossible. I mean, you know how appointments are made in institutions and obviously as provost or President, as I was briefly, you can only do so much. It’s not you who make the appointments. You could encourage appointments you can allocate appointments, but you shouldn’t have quota systems. Rather you have to wait until those opportunities come up and you have to prioritize and so on and so forth. It was very difficult for women who saw themselves as competent. Why was there not for them a position in the history of art, as an art historian so well-trained and so ready to be a member of a good department? But there were no places. There were no positions in that area. Those kinds of issues were there all the time. And so the question of pace was a very big question and I think I made a difference.

We made a slow difference, but that slow difference obviously was not satisfying to those who didn’t benefit from it. And that is an issue that one confronts as one hopes to make a difference. Institutions that move slowly move slowly in part because that’s their way. They don’t know how to run. But that moves slowly also because process is so important and people need to feel things have been done fairly and appropriately and according to policies and rules that everybody understands and has one hopes been a part of shaping. Now when I came back to the University of Chicago, the situation was very different.

Chicago, of course, has always been a coeducational institution that had women on the faculty from day one. But the extraordinary thing about the University of Chicago, which speaks to the larger history of women in higher education in America, was that the percentage of women on the faculty when I became president was no larger than it had been on the opening day of the university. That was an extraordinary fact and it was something I had seen in my own earlier time at the university where I was, I think, one of the first women to be appointed to her husband’s department.

There were some obstructions to women’s progress within the university. There were some women on the faculty, of course, but none of them were in the sciences except for medicine. But even there, there weren’t so many. And I think I was one of—I forget, how many—five, in the social sciences altogether. And then, one of only two tenured female faculty at some point. We did make steady progress because the institution had made, I think, an institutional determination that these figures were ridiculous and they did not represent “our” institution, which prides itself on going against the tide. Chicago recognizes merit where merit is due, and it should certainly be doing just that. It wasn’t always smooth progress and it certainly did not involve quotas of any kind, but we steadily did increase the number of women. And I think that having a woman president was a help in that respect. And I think once again, my responsibility was for the whole institution and for being sure that the appropriate appointments were made and other policies were followed. There was clearly some weight to the kind of encouragement. And you know, just the fact of being a woman made a difference.

Check this space later this month to listen to the complete interview on Open Stacks.


Sarah Caro: University Press Redux Conference

Sarah Caro is the Editorial Director in Social Science at Princeton University Press, based in our UK office. 

Working for university presses most of my career, I have never really questioned their future or indeed the importance of what they do both for the academic communities they serve and the world beyond. I always felt so passionate about what I and my colleagues were doing, so excited by the privilege of working with such a range of fascinating people and ideas, I  assumed everyone else felt the same way too. But perhaps I was being complacent. Perhaps to others outside the world of university press publishing it seems a rarified, mysterious, even irrelevant endeavour.  

There is certainly no doubt that many people have little idea what university presses do, as we were reminded in the opening session of the University Press Redux Conference held at the British Library in London last week. Our own former director Peter Dougherty was quoted as saying, ‘We are a secret. The world needs to know about the great things we do.’ There was much discussion over the two days about the need to communicate all we have to offer more broadly. There may be a tendency to hide our light under a bushel, but the two days of presentations and lively debate could leave no one in any doubt that the UP is not only alive and kicking but also a many varied and splendid thing. Redux indeed.

One striking aspect of the conference is the huge variety in the university press world not only in terms of  output—everything from scholarly monographs, to textbooks, books for a broader audience including cookery books, guide books and natural history, journals, online resources and born digital projects—but also the different ways they reach their audiences and the very different relationships they have with their host institutions. Some UPs are essentially run by their university library services, others are more or less autonomous. Some are run as quasi commercial operations, even returning a surplus to their host institution, while others are dedicated to Open Access. And they are truly global. One of the most interesting sessions I attended included presentations on university presses in Africa and Australia and there were also delegates from presses across the whole of the UK, US, Canada and Europe.

Despite this huge variety, or perhaps because of it, there is a also an incredible sense of community. University presses exist within the world not just of academia but the real world of current events and politics—as was dramatically illustrated by a rather heated debate about the latest OA requirements of the UK government’s main Higher Education funding body. Whatever the differences in how we operate we are all grappling with the same challenges of new technology, diversity, social media, accessibility and simply trying to do what we do better.

I left the BL on the last afternoon, exhausted and full of cold but convinced that the world of the university press is not rarefied (you certainly wouldn’t call it that after some of the more ‘trenchant’ comments during the OA debate), and while occasionally a little bit mysterious, it is always relevant. Relevant because it is about ideas and ideas do not exist without people.

Kim Williams: How to write a book for audio

PUP’s International Rights Director Kim Williams shares her top tips for writing for audio format.

The audio book sector is the fastest growing area of book publishing right now, and chances are you’ve noticed people beginning to talk about listening to audio books, seen advertisements for audio, or you’re one of the 67 million audio book listeners in the US (5.5 million in the UK). Audible now has over 200,000 audio books available for download on its retail platform, while Google Play has just launched the format in 45 countries and nine languages. Looking at library lending statistics, Overdrive have just announced that there were 68 million audio books borrowed worldwide using their library app in 2017, a 24% increase on the previous year.

PUP has been working with audio publishers for ten years to produce some of our books in audio format. In that time, around two hundred of our books have been recorded and published in a digital audio edition. Some of our most successful audio books have sold more than ten thousand copies, and one book has sold over 40,000 copies; we are certain that audio sales are a meaningful way to bring our scholarly ideas to the world, and industry statistics seem to agree.

I took on responsibility for audio book licensing in 2017. Here are my top tips for writing nonfiction books that will succeed as audio books.

Write for listeners. When you’re crafting your book, can you imagine a reader (narrator/voice actor) speaking the words you’re typing? Avoid overcomplicated sentences, sub-clauses, and excessive length. Your reader will need to breathe, and wants to record the book without too many takes.

If visual data is necessary, describe it. If your book relies on charts, tables, or photographs, it’s not an automatic barrier to producing an audio book, but some adaptations will need to be made for the audio book. Publishers can provide a PDF of the visual data for buyers, but listeners respond well to a brief description. This can be added in for the audio edition alone, or carefully built into the text with your editor’s guidance.

Listeners are faithful to narrators. Opinions vary on who is best placed to voice non-fiction books, but increasingly buyers of audio books are aware of who is reading the edition, and will buy books because they like the reader’s voice.  Recording is fast-paced, handled best by production professionals and sound engineers (the unsung heroes of the audio world), and it’s rare for our authors to record their own books.

Long books can be great for audio. One feature that makes some of our finest scholarship perfect for audio is that long books can work well in audio. Subscribers like to get lots of listening hours for their membership fee and will often happily listen to books that are 20-30 hours long. (Rights Director note – there are competing pressures for translated books, so for now let’s assume that there’s no substitute for rigorous editing and revision!)

Narrators need pronunciation guides. Both publishers and scholars can be guilty of a bewildering array of acronyms and abbreviations, which become normalized when you use them every day. Lots of this will be addressed for the book itself, but it’s surprising how unfamiliar acronyms, place and people names, scientific names and other phrasing can suddenly be if you’re forced to say them out loud rather than merely read them. If it seems likely that the book will be produced in audio, you could write pronunciations into a glossary or a separate pronunciation guide to save time when the book is recorded.

I hope these tips are a helpful starter and we welcome your suggestions, too. If you’re new to audio books, you can download one free audio book from Audible, get 50% off your first audio book purchase from Google Play, borrow CDs from your local library, or use your library download service. Let us know if you #LoveAudiobooks!

Princeton University Press launches WeChat in China

On Monday, January 15th 2018, Princeton University Press’s China Office launched its official WeChat account, establishing a new and growing social media presence in China. From now on, PUP will be able to connect with the Chinese public on a regular basis.

The momentum has continued steadily as subscribers have grown with each new article published on WeChat. In the past week and a half, we have detailed PUP’s rich history, shared a list of our economics titles, and an author interview featuring Jean Tirole. (Read it here.)

Together with PUP’s US based social media team, we will continue to publish consistent, quality updates encompassing every subject area, announce book events in China, and provide more China-related content from top Chinese scholars.

We are confident that PUP China’s venture into Chinese social media will be ever more successful thanks to PUP’s impeccable academic standards, time-tested prestige, and, most importantly, our Chinese readers’ eagerness for knowledge and wisdom.

If you have the WeChat App on your phone, make sure that you scan the QR code and follow PUP on WeChat!


Announcing the 2018 Bookselling Without Borders International Book Fair Scholarship for US Booksellers

NEW YORK, New York (January 16, 2018) — A partnership of seven independent publishers (Catapult, Europa Editions, Graywolf, The New Press, Other Press, Princeton University Press, Rutgers University Press) announces the 2018 Bookselling Without Borders international book fair scholarship for US booksellers.

This unique program, now in its third year, will send booksellers on all-expenses-paid trips to the world’s premier book fairs, including the Turin Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Fairs like these have long been important gatherings of the book industry. In order to connect American booksellers to global book conversations and to integrate them into the international book community, participating booksellers will be treated to customized itineraries at select fairs: specially developed panels, meetings, seminars, and receptions with their international counterparts, authors, and publishers.

“If the idea was to make me think more expansively about the role that books from other places should play in my life as a bookseller, the scholarship was spectacularly successful.”—David Sandberg, owner of Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA and 2017 scholarship recipient.

In addition to its seven partner publishers, Bookselling Without Borders is generously supported by Ingram Content Group, as well as by over 250 individual donors who contributed more than $30,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017.

Booksellers interested in diverse and international literature, in fostering relationships with the international bookselling community, and in traveling to some of the world’s great literary cities are encouraged to apply by visiting booksellingwithoutborders.com during the application period, January 17 through February 28.

Scholarship recipients will be announced in March 2018.

For further information contact: Steve Kroeter; Program coordinator; Bookselling Without Borders; swk@design101.com; 718-636-1345

Season’s Greetings from PUP’s European office

See amid the winter snow the welcoming lights of the Foundling Museum in London where the European office held our annual holiday party. This was the fourth year that we have hosted this celebration and we are thrilled to see that it has become a significant date in many people’s calendars. We were delighted that our Director, Christie Henry, was able to join us this year and to welcome our guests amongst beautiful works of art from the Foundling Museum’s collection.

PUP’s Director Christie Henry welcoming our guests at the Foundling Museum

It was wonderful too that so many many authors, media contacts, and friends of the Press gathered together in the bleak midwinter and shared glad tidings of comfort and joy –as well as enjoying some delicious canapes and festive drinks.

The party came at the end of a week in which we saw three ships come sailing in with visitors from our China office as well as from our US office. Through the rude wind’s loud lament and the bitter weather (surprisingly heavy snow fell to welcome our colleagues) we had a series of extremely useful meetings, including our annual European Editorial Advisory Board meeting and a presentation from our China office, all of which will help us to work ever more closely together in our mission to be a global Press.

From PUP’s European office we send you all good wishes at the end of 2017 and hope that 2018 is full of joy and good books!

Guests at the holiday party in the beautiful surroundings of the Foundling Museum


Follow Princeton Nature on Instagram

Princeton University Press is pleased to announce the launch of the Princeton Nature Instagram, an extension of the Princeton Birds & Nature social media channels we curate on Facebook and Twitter, as well as here on our blog.

Making use of the array of features offered on Instagram, we’ll be introducing our readers to the new books and perennial favorites on our expanding natural history list. Our popular Bird Fact Friday series, along with various recurring series like Big Pacific, will also make appearances on Instagram, where we can offer you a glimpse of the stunning illustration programs. We’re looking forward to showcasing our latest publications, and putting them into action on the various hiking trails, gardens, and scenic locations around Princeton. In addition, we’ll be holding giveaways, quizzes, and using the Stories feature to highlight our titles in new and exciting ways. You can expect information on our upcoming BirdGenie app, which will be available on supported Apple® or Android® smartphones and tablets in Spring 2018.

Follow us @princetonnature for the latest photos and videos from our Princeton Birds & Natural History titles. We look forward to taking you around the world, one photo at a time.

#UPWeek: Producing the Books that Matter


Have you ever wondered how publishers think about their books and the publishing process? Now is your chance to learn the answer to those questions and more with a video put together by Ingram in honor of University Press Week, featuring Christie Henry, director of Princeton University Press, Jennifer Crewe, director of Columbia University Press, and Taylor Dietrich of Cambridge University Press.

#AskAnEditor Twitter Round Up

To celebrate University Press Week, we invited the reading public to #AskAnEditor, and boy did you all have questions! For five hours, Twitter users had the opportunity to pepper our editors in a variety of disciplines with questions on everything from how to get into publishing, to open access, to illustration programs. In case you missed it, here’s a round-up of some of our favorites. Thanks to everyone who participated in the publishing community and beyond.

#UPWeek: #Twitterstorm


We’re excited to be participating in AAUP’s annual University Press Week! Check this space every day this week for posts from our fellow university presses. Today, the theme is #Twitterstorm.

Harvard University Press provides a look at how social media has played a role in the publication of Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide

Editorial Director of Johns Hopkins University Press Greg Britton extols the virtues of Twitter in university press publishing

Athabasca University Press tells the remarkable story of how they used social media to create a citywide book club

Finally, Beacon Press describes how social media helped with the success of Christopher Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too

Two PUP Books Longlisted for the 2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes

We are delighted that Monarchs and Milkweed by Anurag Agrawal and Welcome to the Universe by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael Strauss, and J. Richard Gott have been longlisted for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books!

The Prizes celebrate outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults and are meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all ages. AAAS believes that, through good science books, this generation, and the next, will have a better understanding and appreciation of science.


Welcome to the Universe