University Press Week Blog Tour Day 5: Author Conversations

thanks to authorsThe final day of the University Press Week blog tour focuses on presses in conversation with their authors. Here at Princeton we would like to take a moment to thank all of our wonderful authors across many disciplines, without whom our esteemed publishing program could not exist. In the past year, PUP has been fortunate enough to publish multiple Nobel Prize winners, up-and-coming stars, renowned scholars and cultural critics. Our authors range from game theorists to astrophysicists, from art historians to professional ornithologists.

Each week on the PUP blog, we feature conversations with our authors about our books. These conversations, such as this one with n+1 co-founder Mark Greif, this one with classics professor Josiah Ober, or this one with biologists and bee experts Olivia Messinger Carril and Joseph Wilson, always provide wonderful behind-the-scenes glimpses of the writing process the origins of our authors’ research.

Today, these university presses share conversations with their own authors:

Temple University Press
Columbia University Press
University of Virginia Press
Beacon Press
University of Illinois Press
Southern Illinois University Press
University Press of Kansas
Oregon State University Press
Liverpool University Press
University of Toronto Press

University Press Week Blog Tour day 4: #TBT

UpWeekThe University Press Week blog tour continues with day four, aptly themed Throwback Thursday. Delve into the fascinating past of university press publishing with new featured posts from these presses:

Project Muse celebrates their 20th anniversary by offering some highlights from their 20 years of university press content.

University of Minnesota Press shares infographics highlighting their 90th birthday this year.

University of Chicago Press offers a TBT written as a letter from the past…from the year the PDF was introduced in 1991.

University of Manitoba Press shares books, catalogs, and book launch photos from the 48 years UMP has been publishing.

University of Washington Press celebrates their centennial by featuring highlights and photos from 100 years of UW Press history.

Duke University Press brings us a special throwback to all of their surprising journal covers.

University of Texas Press offers a look back on the street style of 1970s Pennsylvania through the lens of seminal street photographer Mark Cohen.

University of Michigan Press describes the evolution of their book, “Michigan Trees” through the more than 100 years the publication has been maintained and edited, with a screen shot of the original cover.

University Press of Kansas takes a trip through their list via a “Today in History” theme.

Minnesota Historical Society Press shares Mike Evangelist’s Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s, which captures a memorable time and place in the past.

University of California Press remembers their Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 publication in 2010: A media cause célèbre.

University of Toronto Press highlights the various cover designs their journals have had over the years (some journals have been publishing for hundreds of years, so expect some interesting ones!)

Fordham University Press features What Might Have Been… A trip through New York City’s Unbuilt Subway System.

Princeton University Press launches new Design Tumblr #ReadUP


This week, the Press is slated to launch its own Tumblr blog, part of an initiative to visually document our designers’ efforts and accomplishments across all areas of publishing at Princeton University Press.

Originally intended to serve as a digital portfolio for designers, the blog has since expanded to promote visual communication in publishing more broadly. “By offering a glimpse into the way we work,” says director of design, Maria Lindenfeldar, “we hope to connect with others far beyond Princeton, including designers, publishers, authors, and anyone interested in ideas and visual culture. We look forward to seeing what conversations unfold.”

The blog will examine the many layers, both literal and figurative, of book design, while chronicling the progress of books from concept to print. Designers will frequently share their reflections on the creative side of publishing, with features on cover and interior design, paperback publications, recent award winners, poetry and classics editions, and other assorted topics.

spring catalog

Our Spring 2016 catalog is a great example of the creative and collaborative work done by designers at Princeton University Press. The PUP Design Tumblr will feature work from designers in the Production, Marketing, and Advertising departments.

“We’re now publishing a much wider range of illustrated projects here at Princeton University Press,” says Michelle Komie, executive editor in the humanities, “from art and architectural history to urbanism, design, and photography. Tumblr offers an excellent space to bring our innovative visual work into the larger conversations about book design happening around the world.”

Of the various social media options available, Tumblr was chosen because of its ease of use and integrated functions. When work is posted, it can be re-posted by fellow Tumblr users, as well as users of other social media. What’s more, PUP will have the opportunity to connect with groups and organizations outside of university publishing, such as trade publishers, libraries, bookstores, and reading groups.

“We’d like to reinforce the Press’ reputation for inventive and visually compelling design work,” designer Jason Alejandro notes. “Today, design is regarded as an essential aspect of an organization’s ability to strategize, communicate, and operate.”

To these ends, PUP’s Tumblr blog will give appropriate visual form to the remarkable scholarship Princeton University Press publishes and to demonstrate the truly collaborative nature of publishing. At the same time, it seeks to illustrate the integral role of book design, both as a marketing tool and as a means of complementing – even shaping – one’s reading experience. We’re excited to share it with you.

Follow us on Tumblr.

PUPCheck out posts on design by these university presses: Northwestern University Press, MIT Press, Georgetown University Press, Syracuse University Press, Stanford University Press, Harvard University Press, AU Press, and Yale University Press.

Publishing for a digital age: A word from Peter Dougherty #UPWeek


Scholarly Kitchen ran a terrific article yesterday on the important contributions of university presses, and how many are redefining their role in the digital age. At Princeton University Press, the past year has brought the successful launch of a major intellectual, digital, and global undertaking. A word from our director, Peter Dougherty:

EinsteinProbably the most stunning development at Princeton University Press is the successful launch of our Digital Edition of The Collected Papers of Albert EinsteinThe Digital Einstein Papers has given scientists and historians alike all over the world free access to the first thirteen volumes of the Einstein Papers, one of the most important intellectual archives in all of scholarly publishing.  According to Kenneth Reed, PUP’s Digital Production Manager, usage statistics suggest that the Digital Einstein Papers has been a truly successful global project:

“Since its launch, there have have been 2.7 million page views from across the world. Outside the United States, Germany and India represent the second and third most visitors to the site. Visitors view an average of over nine pages per visit, and returning visitors are 75%. Mobile users account for over 30% of the site usage, which is not surprising given the global appeal of the site.”

The Digital Einstein Papers also represents a global success by way of being a great international and cross-institutional collaboration, drawing on the talents and effort of colleagues not only at PUP, but at our partner institutions, The Einstein Papers Project at Caltech, the Albert Einstein Archive at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the online platform firm, Tizra.  PUP will add new volumes as they appear roughly every eighteen months.

—Peter Dougherty

Read what these other university presses have to say on the future of scholarly publishing, from the value of acquisitions work and the meaning of gatekeeping in the digital era, to how university presses are picking up the slack left by trade publishers:

Indiana University Press

Oxford University Press

George Mason University Press

University Press of Colorado

University Press of Kansas

UNC Press

West Virginia University Press

Johns Hopkins University Press

University of Georgia Press

University Press Week Blog Tour: What’s Surprising? #ReadUp

UpWeekThis week, Princeton University Press will be participating in the University Press Week blog tour. Stay tuned for our featured post on Wednesday from our Design department on the launch of an exciting new social media initiative.

Today, in keeping with the online gallery theme, check out posts from other university presses on what projects they’ve found particularly surprising. Our own biggest surprise of the year is a foray into children’s literature with the 150th anniversary edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, including illustrations by Salvador Dalí. You can read more about that at the online gallery, and on the PUP blog later this week.

So, what’s surprising in university press publishing this year? #ReadUp!

  • University Press of Florida blogs recipes and photos from recent UPF cookbooks that have changed how people view the Sunshine State, highlighting a thriving food scene that has often gone unnoticed amid the state’s highly-publicized beaches and theme parks.
  • University Press of New England reflects on the unusual success of a book from their trade imprint, ForeEdge. The book is titled Winning Marriage by Marc Solomon, and traces the years-long, state-by-state legal battle for marriage equality in America. Surprises came in many forms: from the serendipitous timing of the book’s publication with the Supreme Court ruling to the book’s ability to resonate with general readers and legal scholars alike—and many others surprises in between.
  • University Press of Mississippi, Steve Yates, marketing director, describes how the Press has partnered with Lemuria Books in Jackson and writers across the state to create the Mississippi Books page at the Clarion Ledger.
  • University Press of Kentucky features a pop quiz of some surprising facts about AAUP Member Presses.
  • University of California Press will discuss their Luminos and Collabra OA publishing platforms.
  • University of Wisconsin Press writes about how mystery fiction is a surprise hit, and a surprisingly good fit for their publishing program. Their sleuths in several series include a duo of globe-trotting art history experts, a Wisconsin sheriff in a favorite tourist destination, a gay literature professor, and a tough detective who quotes Shakespeare and Melville.
  • The University of Nebraska Press is more than their books! Find out about the UNP staff and who they are.
  • And check out surprise posts from University of Michigan and University Press of Kansas as well.


Get Ready for University Press Week! #UPWeek


This week we’re putting Bird Fact Friday on hold as we prepare for University Press Week, an annual event when we celebrate the many contributions that university presses make to academia and an informed society.

#UPWeek began in 1978 with President Jimmy Carter, “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.” Today that influence is stronger than ever as university presses expand their publishing programs, take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a more global society, and explore new ways to bring valuable content to readers. This helpful infographic designed by our own Jessica Massabrook summarizes a great deal of fascinating information about this segment of the publishing industry.

Here at PUP, we have some great things planned!

Our contribution to the #UPWeek blog tour will come on Wednesday, November 11 and will focus on UP Design. Chris Lapinksi will be announcing an exciting new social media development in PUP’s design department.

Other special features include:

Kellie Rendina, from Advertising, will post on children’s literature for adults, with a focus on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Check out the AAUP’s online gallery of featured titles from various university presses for more information on this and other surprising offerings!


Peter Dougherty, Director of PUP, will talk about what’s new at PUP, particularly how we’re using technology to reach our readers.

In addition, each day we’ll be bringing together daily round ups of all the great posts from our fellow university presses.


How can you get involved? Easy! Sign up to attend the November 10th online session entitled Opening Access: The Reinvention of the Academic Book and the November 13 online session called It’s Not Scary: The Art of Getting Published with a Scholarly Press. You can also check this map to find your local university presses. Follow them on social media, using the hashtag #ReadUP to join the conversation, and check their blogs for exciting new content as we celebrate academic publishing together.

Princeton University Press launches The Digital Einstein Papers

DEP front page

Launching today, THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS is a publicly available website of the collected and translated papers of Albert Einstein that allows readers to explore the writings of the world’s most famous scientist as never before.

Princeton, NJ – December 5, 2014 – Princeton University Press, in partnership with Tizra, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and California Institute of Technology, announces the launch of THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS ( This unique, authoritative resource provides full public access to the translated and annotated writings of the most influential scientist of the twentieth century: Albert Einstein.

“Princeton University Press has a long history of publishing books by and about Albert Einstein, including the incredible work found in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein,” said Peter Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press. “We are delighted to make these texts openly available to a global audience of researchers, scientists, historians, and students keen to learn more about Albert Einstein. This project not only furthers the mission of the press to publish works that contribute to discussions that have the power to change our world, but also illustrates our commitment to pursuing excellence in all forms of publishing—print and digital.”

THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS website presents the complete contents of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, and, upon its launch, the website——will contain 5,000 documents covering the first forty-four years of Einstein’s life, up to and including the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics and his long voyage to the Far East. Additional material will be available on the website approximately eighteen months after the print publication of new volumes of The Collected Papers. Eventually, the website will provide access to all of Einstein’s writings and correspondence, accompanied by scholarly annotation and apparatus.

What sorts of gems will users discover in THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS? According to Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald, director of the Einstein Papers Project, “This material has been carefully researched and annotated over the last twenty-five years and contains all of Einstein’s scientific and popular writings, drafts, lecture notes, and diaries, and his professional and personal correspondence up to his forty-fourth birthday—so users will discover major scientific articles on the general theory of relativity, gravitation, and quantum theory alongside his love letters to his first wife, correspondence with his children, and his intense exchanges with other notable scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, and political personalities of the early twentieth century.”

Buchwald also noted that THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS will introduce current and future generations to important ideas and moments in history, saying, “It is exciting to think that thanks to the careful application of new technology, this work will now reach a much broader audience and stand as the authoritative digital source for Einstein’s written legacy.”

THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS enables readers to experience the writings of Albert Einstein in unprecedented ways. Advance search technology improves discoverability by allowing users to perform keyword searches across volumes of Einstein’s writing and, with a single click, navigate between the original languages in which the texts were written and their English translations. Further exploration is encouraged by extensive explanatory footnotes, introductory essays, and links to the Einstein Archives Online, where there are thousands of high-quality digital images of Einstein’s writings.

The Tizra platform was selected for this project, according to Kenneth Reed, manager of digital production for Princeton University Press, because of its highly flexible, open, and intuitive content delivery approach, and its strong reputation for reliability. Equally important was creating a user-friendly reading experience.

“One of the reasons we chose Tizra is that we wanted to preserve the look and feel of the volumes,” said Reed. “You’ll see the pages as they appear in the print volumes, with added functionality such as linking between the documentary edition and translation, as well as linking to the Einstein Archives Online, and the ability to search across all the volumes in English and German.”

THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS is an unprecedented scholarly collaboration that highlights what is possible when technology, important content, and a commitment to global scholarly communication are brought together. We hope you will join us in celebrating this achievement and invite you to explore Einstein’s writings with the links below.

Work on THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS was supported by the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. endowment, the California Institute of Technology, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arcadia Fund, U.K.

A Sampling of Documents Found in THE DIGITAL EINSTEIN PAPERS


“My Projects for the Future” — In this high school French essay, a seventeen-year-old Einstein describes his future plans, writing that “young people especially like to contemplate bold projects.”

Letter to Mileva Marić — The first volume of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein revealed that the young Einstein had fathered an illegitimate daughter. In this letter to his sweetheart and future wife, Einstein, age twenty-two, expresses his happiness at the birth of his daughter Lieserl, and asks about her health and feeding.

Einstein’s first job offer — Einstein graduated from university in 1900, but had great difficulty finding academic employment. He received this notice of his appointment as a technical clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in June 1902 and would later describe his time there as happy and productive.

“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” — Einstein’s 1905 paper on the special theory of relativity is a landmark in the development of modern physics.

“On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light” — Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this paper on the hypothesis of energy quanta.

The telegram informing that Einstein he has won the Nobel Prize — Einstein was traveling in the Far East when he officially learned via telegram that he had been awarded the prize. However, he had long been expecting the prize, as evidenced by a clause regarding its disposition in a preliminary divorce agreement from Mileva in 1918.

“The Field Equations of Gravitation” — Einstein spent a decade developing the general theory of relativity and published this article in late 1915.

To his mother Pauline Einstein — Einstein writes to his ailing mother to share the happy news that his prediction of gravitational light bending was confirmed by a British eclipse expedition in 1919.

To Heinrich Zangger, on the mercurial nature of fame — Having been propelled to world fame, Einstein writes to his friend about the difficulties of being “worshipped today, scorned or even crucified tomorrow.”

To Max Planck, on receiving credible death threats — Einstein writes that he cannot attend the Scientist’s Convention in Berlin because he is “supposedly among the group of persons being targeted by nationalist assassins.”

Four Lectures on the Theory of Relativity, held at Princeton University in May 1921 — On his first trip to the United States, Einstein famously delivered these lectures on the theory of relativity.

About The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein
The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein is one of the most ambitious publishing ventures ever undertaken in the documentation of the history of science. Selected from among more than 40,000 documents contained in Einstein’s personal collection, and 15,000 Einstein and Einstein-related documents discovered by the editors since the beginning of the Einstein Project, The Collected Papers provides the first complete picture of a massive written legacy. When completed, the series will contain more than 14,000 documents as full text and will fill thirty volumes. The volumes are published by Princeton University Press, sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and supported by the California Institute of Technology.

About Princeton University Press
Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections, both formal and informal, to Princeton University. As such it has overlapping responsibilities to the University, the academic community, and the reading public. Our fundamental mission is to disseminate scholarship (through print and digital media) both within academia and to society at large. | Twitter: @PrincetonUPress

About Tizra
Tizra’ digital publishing platform makes it easy to distribute and sell ebooks and other digital content directly to readers, with exceptional control over the user experience. Combining intuitive control panels with integrated ecommerce, SEO, mobile, multimedia, and content remixing capabilities, Tizra empowers content owners to respond quickly to market feedback and build audience relationships that will hold up over the long haul. The company is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and funded in part by Rhode Island’s Slater Technology Fund.  |  Twitter: @tizra

Media contacts:

In North America, Australia, & Asia:
Jessica Pellien
Phone: (609) 258-7879
Fax: (609) 258-1335
In Europe, Africa, & the Middle East:
Julia Hall
Phone: 1993-814-900
Fax: 1993-814-504

Wrapping up #UPWeek — Follow Friday

What a week it has been. Wrapping up the university press blog tour are six movers and shakers. These university presses take to their blogs to discuss fields, authors, and research that is on the cutting edge. Check out these posts for insight into what university presses are adding to scholarly and popular discussions right now.

upress week 2

University of Illinois Press — University of Illinois Press discusses the emerging topics and authors in their Geopolitics of Information series.

University of Minnesota Press — John Hartigan, a participant in the University of Minnesota Press’s new Forerunners series, explains the ways in which he uses social media to enhance scholarly connections and establish social-media conversations with regard to his research.

University of Nebraska Press — How should university pressess be adding to the conversation on social media and who is doing it right? University of Nebraska Press’s marketing department takes a look at the potential for social media use in scholarly publishing.

NYU Press — The folks at NYU Press blog about the forthcoming website for the book Keywords for American Cultural Studies (Second Edition).

Island Press — Island Press takes a look at what is on their editors’ radar these days and why those scholars and fields are important.

Columbia University Press — Every Friday, the Columbia University Press blog runs a post called the University Press Roundup in which they highlight posts from around the academic publishing blogosphere. This blog tour post explains how and why they have made a commitment to a blog series that rarely features their own titles. They discuss how university press blogs generate publicity for individual titles but also provide a much-needed environment where scholarship can be presented for a general readership.

#AAUPWeek Seminar: Collaboration in Scholarly Publishing


About this program:

Collaborations spearheaded by university and academic presses with research libraries, scholars, and other universities around the world are a vital part of publishing today. It is these alliances that keep university presses at the forefront of literature, theory, research, and ideas, making them stewards of modern thought.

In this discussion, Jennifer Howard from The Chronicle of Higher Education is joined by three panelists who have spearheaded innovative collaborations that cross the boundaries of nations, institutions, and disciplines: Barbara Kline Pope, Executive Director for Communications at National Academies Press and also President of the AAUP, Peter Dougherty, Director of Princeton University Press, and Ron Chrisman, director of the University of North Texas Press.

The projects to be discussed are:
• Princeton University Press and Caltech’s Einstein Papers Project provides the first complete picture of Albert Einstein’s massive written legacy.
• National Academy Press’s Academy Scope is a visualization of all of the titles that are available on, allowing readers to browse through the reports of the National Academies by topic area and seeing relationships between titles.
• University of North Texas Press teams up with the University of North Texas Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program and the University of Magallanes in Chile to introduce Magellanic Sub-Antarctic Ornithology.  This project is the result of a decade of research conducted by scientist associated with the Omora Ethnobotanical Park in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in Chile.

Looking back — a #TBT for #UPWeek

Upress week


This afternoon, we head back in time for University Press Week’s Throwback Thursday. Check out these six posts for a look back at the history, recent and not so recent, of university presses.

Temple University Press — The folks at Temple University discuss the development of their influential Asian History and Culture series.

Wesleyan University Press — Learn more about the great Wesleyan Poetry Series with this group of #tbt posts.

Harvard University Press — Late last year, Harvard University Press made roughly 3,000 previously unavailable backlist works available again. These titles go back as far as the late 1800s. (How cool!) While prepping the data, we kept a running list of titles that were really showing their age. This post will give you a few laughs as you are asked to name “Backlist Title from Harvard University Press – OR – Song by Theatrically Erudite Indie Band The Decemberists?”

University of Washington Press — Check out the “then and now” cover designs of these recently reissued Asian American classics.

University of Toronto Press — University of Toronto Press will be looking back at the publications of The Champlain Society, an historical society which publishes primary source archive material that explores Canada’s history. Their post highlights this year’s volume, as well as historical images from past publications.

MIT Press — Up at MIT, they take a look back at former press designer Muriel Cooper. She designed MIT Press’s iconic colophon 50 years ago in 1964.

#UPWeek: Press Director Peter Dougherty participating in Collaboration in Scholarly Publishing today at 1 PM EST

Join the Association of American University Presses today, November 12, 2014, from 1pm-2pm ET, in celebrating scholarly presses by highlighting three exemplary collaborative projects in an online panel moderated by Jennifer Howard from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The session will be presented on Google+:

Ms. Howard will be joined by Barbara Kline Pope, Executive Director for Communications at National Academies Press and AAUP President, Peter Dougherty, Director of Princeton University Press, and Ron Chrisman, Director of the University of North Texas Press to discuss the projects they spearheaded for their respective presses. These three projects illustrate some of the best work being produced in publishing today and open the door to talk about other collaborations within science and the humanities.

  • Princeton University Press and Caltech’s Einstein Papers Project provides the first complete picture of Albert Einstein’s massive written legacy.
  • National Academies Press’s Academy Scope is a visualization of all of the reports that are available on, allowing readers to browse through the reports of the National Academies by topic area and seeing relationships between titles.
  • University of North Texas Press, University of North Texas Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program, and University of Magallanes in Chile’s Magellanic Sub-Antarctic Ornithology project is the result of a decade of research conducted by scientists associated with the Omora Ethnobotanical Park in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in Chile.


November 12, 2014, 1pm-2pm ET

Collaboration in Scholarly Publishing

Presented on Google+


#UPWeek Princeton at the movies

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH stars in THE IMITATION GAME Photo: Jack English © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: Jack English © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

Lights, camera, action!

Much as A Beautiful Mind introduced millions of readers to the singular genius of John Nash as portrayed by Russell Crowe in an Oscar-winning performance, The Imitation Game—starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley,Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Charles Dance, among others, and arriving in theaters November 28—casts a spotlight on the accomplishments and contributions of Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing (1912–1954).

The movie draws inspiration from Andrew Hodges’s award-winning biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, which was originally published in 1983. Princeton University Press has released an updated, paperback movie edition complete with new material from the author that brings the story of Turing’s life current through the 2013 royal pardon of his conviction for homosexual activity. Movie-goers will no doubt be eager to learn more about Turing, an unlikely hero credited with turning the tide of World War II by cracking the German Enigma code, and Alan Turing: The Enigma offers the most authoritative and readable account of his life and work.

In celebration of #UPWeek, Princeton University Press sat down with mathematics editor, Vickie Kearn, to go behind the scenes of making a celebrated book into a major motion picture.

The Book

Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game
By Andrew Hodges

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades–all before his suicide at age forty-one. This acclaimed biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing’s royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.

Capturing both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life, Andrew Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936–the concept of a universal machine–laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program–all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.

Alan Turing: The Enigma is a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution.

Movie tie-in cover for Alan Turing: The Enigma

Movie tie-in cover for Alan Turing: The Enigma

Q&A with Mathematics Editor, Vickie Kearn

PUP: Tell us about when you first heard that a film based on Alan Turing: The Enigma would be produced. Were you excited? Nervous?

VK: This is a rather interesting story. In the fall of 2011, while planning for the  Princeton University 2012 Turing Centennial Celebration, Bob Sedgewick, a professor at Princeton, contacted me about publishing a book on Alan Turing’s work, including his thesis which he wrote for his PhD at Princeton University. During this time he mentioned that there was a fantastic biography of Alan Turing written by Andrew Hodges and that the book was out of print in the US and had been for some time.

I contacted Andrew and found that I already knew his agent so I contacted him to make sure the US rights for the book were still available. The agent told me that they were and that plans were underway for a revival of the play Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitmore, which was based on the Hodges book. He also told me that a centennial edition of the book was planned by Vintage, who holds the UK rights. This all sounded very exciting, and with the forthcoming centennial events, the timing was perfect.

Just one month later the agent told me that the movie rights had been picked up by Warner Brothers and that the details of the casting, director, etc. should be known by late January of 2012. Princeton University Press worked jointly with Vintage to have the centenary edition of Alan Turing: The Enigma published in time for the centennial Turing events in May 2012, and I had little time to think too much about the movie. Time passed and the movie deal fell apart.

In the late summer of 2013, we learned that a new movie deal was struck and that Benedict Cumberbatch would be the lead actor. This was fantastic news, but I stayed rather calm because I knew by now that these things do fall apart. However, in late September I found out that Black Bear Pictures was the studio and that the movie was in pre-production. In April, we moved into high gear and began serious work on what would be in the movie edition of the book.

PUP: You worked directly with The Imitation Game’s film company and author Andrew Hodges during the making of the movie. What was your role, as editor of Alan Turing: The Enigma?

VK: I have worked with Andrew since 2011 and was very excited that we would be working on a new edition of his book and that we also would be collaborating again with Vintage in the UK. Because we decided to reset the book to improve the legibility, he had to proofread it again. That is a huge effort for a 750 page book. Everyone at the Weinstein Company has been fantastic. They respond quickly and have supported the publication of the book as much as we have supported the film. It has been a very exciting process.  As editor, it is my job to make certain that all the pieces come together at the right time. In publishing, there are many steps to make sure your book is a success. They include the review, editing, design, printing, and binding phases and then we begin the marketing, publicity, and sales events. Everything has to happen at a particular time to make the best use of the efforts of everyone at the press. We need a book cover for ads and that has to be approved by the movie company. I have learned that is a very complicated process. Each of the movie companies decides what will be on the cover. For example, the cover of our book and that for the Vintage edition are different.

Alan Turing plaque on Castro Street in San Francisco

Alan Turing plaque on Castro Street in San Francisco

PUP: What was your favorite part about that interaction?

VK: The PUP publicist of the book, Jessica Pellien, and I have worked so far with about a dozen different people at Vintage and the Weinstein Company. You might think this is a bit chaotic, but it isn’t. It does take a bit of choreography, but it is working well. I think that my favorite part about this whole process is seeing the work of dozens of people come together and then holding the first copy of the book in my hand.

PUP: What do you, as the editor of Andrew Hodges’ book, hope that viewers take away from the film?

VK: I hope that they will realize what a huge contribution Alan Turing made to ending WWII and to the development of computer science. I hope that when someone says, “Can you name a computer scientist?” that they will say Alan Turing as quickly as they might say Albert Einstein when asked to name a physicist. I hope that people will understand that human relationships and love between people does not have to be heterosexual. I hope that people who see the film will also read the book.

PUP: When it comes to movies based on books, do you like to read the book before or after you see the movie?

VK: I always prefer to read the book first. I hope that people who see the film will also read the book. They are two different experiences and both are incredibly enjoyable.

Watch the trailer for the The Imitation Game below. Get that edge over fellow movie-goers and check out Chapter One of Alan Turing: The Enigma here.


For more examples of university presses in pop culture, take a look at the posts below:

University of Wisconsin Press

University Press of Mississippi

Georgetown University Press

University Press of Kentucky

Penn Press