#UPWeek: Producing the Books that Matter

UPWeek2017

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

UPWeek2017

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.

Agrawal

Welcome to the Universe

#UPWeek: Producing the books that matter

UPWeek2017

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 Producing the books that matter.

The University of Kansas Press shares a post on the relationship between the editorial and production departments, and how they interact to create books

University of California Press shares their thoughts on producing the books that matter.

The University of Michigan Press interviewed the author of Academic Ableism

On the Fordham University Press blog, David Goodwin talks about the production of his book, Left Bank of the Hudson

University of Washington Press director and AAUP president Nicole Mitchell writes on advocating for the value of university presses

Finally, Yale University Press features an episode from their podcast on the making of the Voynich Manuscript

#UPWeek Blog Tour: Selling the Facts

UPWeek2017

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 Selling the Facts.

The University of Minnesota Press interviewed booksellers about bookselling in the current political climate

University of Texas Press features Guerilla-style interviews with local booksellers on their experiences serving readers since the election.

From the University of Hawai’i Press, check out this round up of interesting and peer-reviewed facts by UH Press journals over the past year.

Johns Hopkins University Press invited their local independent bookstore, the Ivy Bookshop, to write about selling books in the Age of Trump.

Sales Manager Jennifer Schaper of Duke University Press reports on how Frankfurt Book Fair attendees were engaging with Trump and Brexit.

Northeast Sales Representative for the Columbia University Press Sales Consortium describes making sales calls during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The University Press of Kentucky brings us a guest post by the UK Libraries exploring the societal benefits in university presses continuing to publish so that readers continue to have well-researched, long-form content in an age of distraction, manufactured outrage, and hyper partisanship.

Finally, The University Press of Toronto posts on a day in the life of a Canadian higher education sales rep selling books on US campuses.

#AskAnEditor Twitter party to celebrate University Press week

Do you have questions about how to submit a manuscript, what our acquisitions editors look for, or what it’s like to work as an editor at Princeton University Press? This Wednesday, November 8, we’ll be throwing an #AskAnEditor Twitter party. If you have questions for our wonderful acquisitions team, this is your chance to ask them directly. Just tweet to @PrincetonUPress using the hashtag #AskAnEditor. Here’s who will be taking questions and a bit about each of their programs:

11 am-12 pm

Matt Rohal is a junior acquisitions editor at Princeton University Press, working in philosophy, political theory, and the ancient world. He is interested in publishing books that further the conversation in these fields, by presenting innovative insights that are both practical and theoretical, or shedding new light on age-old thinking. Matt has an honors degree in philosophy, a background in publishing political science textbooks, and a lifetime obsession with the ancient world.

12-1 pm

Eric Henney is a science editor, working in physics, astronomy, earth science, and computer science. He is looking for books that change how we see the physical world. Currently he is obsessed with biophysics, materials science, and the collision of computation and society. Eric’s authors include Robbert Dijkgraaf, Mark Serreze, Marcia Bjornerud, Skylar Tibbits, and Carl Landwehr. Though he’s not a scientist, he did have a rock collection when he was a kid.

1-2 pm

Michelle Komie is executive editor at Princeton University Press, and acquires titles in art, architectural, and urban history. Recent titles include On Weaving, by Anni Albers, Mariposas Nocturnas, by Emmet Gowin, Bosch and Bruegel, by Joseph Koerner, and Designing San Francisco, by Alison Isenberg.

2-3 pm

Vickie Kearn is executive editor of mathematics. She taught school in Virginia for 8 years before moving to NYC and taking a job as a Developmental Editor at Academic Press. After editing calculus textbooks and writing solution manuals for three years, she became an Acquisitions Editor. She worked for a commercial press and a mathematics society before coming to PUP. Some of her standout titles include The Seduction of Curves by Allan McRobie, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali by Lewis Carroll, and Magical Mathematics by Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham.

3-4 pm

Fred Appel is executive editor at Princeton University Press. He acquires books in both the social sciences and humanities, focusing in particular on the areas of religion and religious studies (including Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, American religion and religious history) and cultural anthropology. Fred has worked as an acquisitions editor at Princeton for 16 years. Examples of books he has edited at Princeton include Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World; E. Gabriella Coleman’s Coding Freedom, James Scott’s Two Cheers for Anarchism, Noah Feldman’s The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Thomas Barfield’s Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, John C. Collins’ The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography, Shahab Ahmed’s What is Islam?, and Bible Nation by Candida Moss and Joel Baden.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Wednesday and tweet your question to @PrincetonUPress with the hashtag #AskAnEditor. Hope to see you there!

 

 

#UPWeek Blog Tour: Scholarship Makes a Difference

UPWeek2017

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 Scholarship Makes a Difference

From Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Daniel Heath Justice highlights the importance of indigenous literature and scholarship

Temple University Press shows how scholarship can make a difference as we move toward a more diverse, equitable society

Wayne State University Press‘s post showcases one of their new books on slavery in the 21st century

From the University Press of Colorado, an essential reading list of books in a post-truth society

From us, Editor-in-Chief Al Bertrand makes the case for nonpartisan, rigorous peer reviewed social science in today’s political climate

George Mason University Press writes on the path to discovery of William Playfair, an overlooked and misunderstood historical figure

Last but not least, the history editor in higher education at the University of Toronto Press discusses the importance of making scholarship accessible to stuidents and the role that publishers play in helping to build better citizens

University Press Week: Scholarship Makes a Difference

UPWeek2017

Must scholarship be difficult and full of jargon? Are experts fated to be dismissed as out of touch because their writing is unintelligible?

Chief Justice Roberts seems to think so. Earlier this month, while hearing oral arguments in Gill v Whitford on gerrymandering, Roberts dismissed political science research on the effects of redistricting as “sociological gobbledygook.” Leaving aside for one moment Roberts’ conflation of sociology and political science, let’s look at Roberts’ reasoning.

In oral arguments he posed the “intelligent man on the street” test:

“. . . [If] you’re the intelligent man on the street and the court issues a decision, and let’s say, okay, the Democrats win, and that person will say: “Well, why did the Democrats win?” And the answer is going to be because EG was greater than 7 percent, where EG is the sigma of party X wasted votes minus the sigma of party Y wasted votes over the sigma of party X votes plus party Y votes. And the intelligent man on the street is going to say that’s a bunch of baloney.”

Implicit in Roberts’ view is the seemingly common sense notion that it would be absurd to expect the intelligent person on the street to read and understand the view of scholarly experts in the politics of gerrymandering.

In fact, Roberts poses a false choice between expert knowledge and intelligibility. We know this at Princeton University Press because we routinely publish the work of outstanding scholarship that contributes both to the advancement of discourse and influences the public on the most pressing issues facing the U.S. and the world.

Take Democracy for Realists by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels. Based on painstaking research conducted over many years, Achen and Bartels forcefully present the case that voters choose candidates based on deep social identities and loyalties, often adjusting their policy preferences to match those loyalties.

If true, their thesis both overturns much of academic democratic theory as well as common beliefs about democracy. But can anyone understand this stuff? Roberts’ “intelligent man on the street?” Perhaps I’m cheating by translating their academic gobbledygook into plain English?

Hardly. Yes, Achen and Bartels’ book has been reviewed in the Political Studies Review and Political Science Quarterly. But it has also been reviewed in the Washington Post and the Financial Times, as well as the Ottawa Citizen, Tulsa World, and New York Magazine.

Or look at another recent publication by PUP, this time in sociology, Rachel Sherman’s Uneasy Street. This book challenges a simple depiction of the wealthy as materialistic, arguing that the rich have deeply conflicting feelings about their wealth. Such research could have been presented as gobbledygook. But it wasn’t. Instead, Sherman tells 50 stories based on personal interviews. The result? A book that has been excerpted in the New York Times, garnering over 3,000 reader responses in the online edition.

Journalists and readers are drawn to such books by their rigor and the expertise of their authors. In a world of “alternative facts,” journalists and readers want real expertise, the kind which comes from career-long immersion in a subject. But journalists only write about such books—and readers only spend precious time on them—when authors present expertise clearly and compellingly.

As publishers, we work hard at helping our authors achieve this balance of rigor and accessibility. We believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Expertise is not shameful, an embarrassment to be hidden from the “intelligent man on the street.” As academic publishers, let’s promote expertise and help make it central to public discourse again.  If Justice Roberts were reading these books, he would understand how great social science books are far from gobbledygook. They are essential to creating an informed public and to the health of our democracy.

Yuri Slezkine’s author tour in the UK

PUP Publicity Assistant Amy Stewart attended The House of Government author Yuri Slezkine’s event at the Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film & Music in the UK. Read on to find out more about Slezkine’s talk and his other European events. 

SlezkineFor a book which is framed so significantly by the architecture of a vast Moscow apartment block, what better place for Yuri Slezkine to complete his time in the UK than inside Blenheim Palace for the Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film, & Music just across the road from our European office in Woodstock? Slezkine spent an hour in conversation with BBC Media Correspondent Nick Higham about his extensive book The House of Government, which Higham praised as ‘quite a remarkable book’ and one of the longest he has read for a while.

Slezkine’s event at Blenheim focused on the nature of his research and the tension between academic nonfiction and fiction within his new book. Slezkine stressed that, although his book has a distinctive narrative that could be likened to fiction, the book is founded on the extensive research he has been conducting over the past twenty years. Slezkine allowed his audience an insight into his research by detailing some of his interviews with residents who had spent some of their childhood in the Moscow apartment block. Many of Slezkine’s sources arose from these interviews where he was given previously unseen photographs and letters from the residents’ years in the House of Government.

A final point of interest from Slezkine’s event at Blenheim Palace was his position as a historian: whether he judges Slezkinehis characters himself or simply lays them out for his reader to come to their own conclusions about real historical events. Slezkine swayed towards the latter which seems to further highlight this book’s uniqueness.

Prior to this event, Slezkine had a jam-packed week in the UK with sold-out events in London, Cheltenham, and Oxford. Starting with full events at the Kings Russia Institute and the LRB Bookshop, Slezkine also appeared at the Cheltenham Literary Festival then ventured over to Oxford for a packed event in Blackwell’s, followed by his event at Blenheim Palace which the whole office went over to see.

Overall, a very exciting week for the European Office!

Wealth of Ideas Conference in honor of Peter Dougherty

As a publisher, Peter J. Dougherty has been one of the most ardent advocates of the book’s power to convey important ideas and to change the “conversations that are changing the world.” In honor of his career as an editor and his tenure as director of Princeton University Press, Friday’s Wealth of Ideas conference at the Princeton University Friend Center was devoted to demonstrating how scholarly research via the durable medium of the book has shaped our world and can continue to have a lasting impact.

On hand to mark the day were W. Drake McFeely, Chairman, W. W. Norton & Company, Christopher L. Eisgruber, President of Princeton University, and Diana Kormos Buchwald, California Institute of Technology. The morning opened with a session on Economics and Economic History with presentations from Joel Mokyr, Robert Shiller, and Diane Coyle. Politics and economic sociology were discussed by Daniel Chirot of University of Washington, Viviana A. Zelizer of Princeton University, and Jerry Z. Muller of Catholic University of America. The afternoon saw presentations on education topics from Nancy Weiss Malkiel of Princeton University, Andrew Delbanco of Columbia University, and James Shulman of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Presentations on publishing from Adam Bellow, Editorial Director, All Points Books, St. Martin’s Press, Marilyn Moller, Editor and Vice President, W. W. Norton & Company, and Stephan Chambers, Director, Marshall Institute, London School of Economics rounded out the afternoon.

Outgoing director Peter Dougherty and incoming director Christie Henry

At the reception that followed at 41 William Street, members of the Princeton University Press Staff awarded Peter with a gorgeous, hand-knit commemorative blanket, bound copies of his wisdom in Confessions of a Scholarly Publisher, several pieces of artwork, and a plaque memorializing the William Street lobby of the Scribner Building in his name.

Peter admires a handmade retirement gift from PUP staff

Peter writes:

“I want to thank each and every one of you for the wonderful reception and recognition, and especially those of you who put so much of yourselves into the many gifts I received that evening and will cherish forever. I am humbled by your generosity, and am hopeful and indeed confident that you will capture the spirit you brought to Friday’s reception and direct that spirit in support of Christie Henry as she leads the Press into its next exciting generation.”

A 1971 graduate of LaSalle College in his hometown of Philadelphia, Peter J. Dougherty began his publishing career as a college textbook salesperson for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1972. After becoming sociology editor at Harcourt in 1979, he went on to work as an editor at McGraw-Hill, W. H. Freeman, St. Martin’s Press, Basil Blackwell, and The Free Press before coming to Princeton University Press as its senior economics editor in 1992.

At Princeton, he published some of the most noted economists and social scientists in the world, including nine Nobel Prize winners. Among the most celebrated books on his list are Robert J. Shiller’s international bestseller, Irrational Exuberance, and Animal Spirits, coauthored by Shiller and George Akerlof; Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s Women Don’t Ask; Joel Mokyr’s Gifts of Athena; Harold Kuhn and Sylvia Nasar’s The Essential John Nash; Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence; and Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms. He also built the Press’s distinguished list in higher education, including William G. Bowen and Derek Bok’s groundbreaking The Shape of the River. Dougherty was named director of the Press in 2005 and served in that role until 2017. As director, he oversaw some of the Press’s most successful years, both academically and financially, as well as an expansion of its international presence with the opening of an office in Beijing—the first for a US university press.

He is a past president of the Association of American University Presses and previously served on the board of the Association of American Publishers. His first book, Who’s Afraid of Adam Smith?, was published by John Wiley and Sons in 2002.

Currently, Peter is editor-at-large at Princeton University Press and Fox Family Pavilion Scholar and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Robert A. Fox Leadership Program.

 

Peter Dougherty, Christie Henry, and Walter Lippincott in the Press courtyard

The Great Leveler shortlisted for the Cundill Prize

We’re delighted to announce that The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel has been chosen as a finalist for the prestigious Cundill Prize alongside The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsar by Daniel Beer and Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha. Administered by McGill University in Montreal, the Cundill History Prize rewards the leading historians of our time. Previous winners include Thomas W. Laqueur, Susan Pedersen, Lisa Jardine, Anne Applebaum, and Diarmaid MacCulloch.

“The three finalists for the 2017 Cundill History Prize are extraordinary works of history: beautifully crafted, well-researched, and ambitious. They tackle big issues and help us to know ourselves and our world better. We live in complicated times and the work of historians such as these provides us with the necessary background, understanding, and insights to enable us to formulate the sorts of questions we ought to be asking.”

—Margaret MacMillan, Chair of the Jury

Scheidel