Day 5 of #UPWeek is finally here — the global reach of university presses

upweekToday is the last day of the University Press Week Blog Tour and it’s finally our turn! Today Peter Dougherty considers the importance of finding foreign language publishers to translate and publish UP-generated works. We are joined by a raft of other publishers considering the various ways university presses are expanding the global reach of the scholarship we publish.


Columbia University Press
www.cupblog.org
Georgetown University Press
georgetownuniversitypress.tumblr.com

Discusses how Georgetown University Press gives its readers the tools they need to have a global reach themselves through our foreign language learning materials, our international career guides, and our international affairs titles.

Indiana University Press
iupress.typepad.com
IUP presents an overview of their Mellon-funded Framing the Global project which will develop and disseminate new knowledge, approaches, and methods in the field of global research.
Johns Hopkins University Press
jhupressblog.com

From book translations to international marketing and the growth of Project MUSE into many different nations, the JHU Press can’t help but think beyond the borders of the United States.

New York University Press
fromthesquare.org
Chip Rossetti, managing editor of the Library of Arabic Literature (LAL), will discuss the new LAL series, an ambitious international project which comes out of a partnership between NYU Press and NYU Abu Dhabi.
Princeton University Press
press.princeton.edu/blog
Peter Dougherty, Press Director, writes about the importance of foreign language translations to the future of university press economic health and fulfillment of our missions.
University of Wisconsin Press
uwpress.wordpress.com

Press director Sheila Leary profiles the publishing career of Jan Vansina, one of the founders of the field of African history (rather than colonial history). His innovative seven books with the University of Wisconsin Press from the 1960s to the present have continually broken new ground, influencing the historiography of Africa and several related disciplines.

Yale University Press
blog.yupnet.org

Ivan Lett writes on recent transatlantic collaboration of US-UK marketing initiatives for Yale University Press globally published titles, series, and digital products.

The complete schedule for the blog tour is located here.

Game of Tongues — PUP Director Peter Dougherty Reflects on the Importance of Translations (#UPWeek)

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This post is presented as part of the University Press Week Blog Tour. November 11-15 is set aside as a week to celebrate the myriad ways university presses contribute to scholarly communication and society at large. Please support our colleagues by exploring more posts in the tour via the links below. For a complete schedule, click here.

 

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If you want to get a great sense of the global reach of the university press and, not incidentally, of the potential of forthcoming publications, you could do worse than observing a few days’ worth of foreign rights meetings at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Perched in a folding chair at a card table in the Princeton University Press booth last month, I watched my colleague Kim Williams, PUP’s foreign rights manager (who operates from our office in Oxfordshire), hold 80 meetings with nearly 200 publishers from 22 countries, representing 17 languages around the world. Meetings such as Kim’s–going on eight frenetic, exhausting hours a day over the five-day forced march of Frankfurt–comprise the annual ritual wherein the world decides which books and which ideas get dispersed across nations. The word “dissemination” is sometimes used to characterize the mission of university presses. Frankfurt is an example of dissemination of the highest, most sophisticated, most intricately orchestrated kind.

Pitching our books to Chinese publishers at #fbf13 - cheers to Cheers Publishing!

Pitching our books to Chinese publishers at #fbf13 – cheers to Cheers Publishing! (credit: @PUP_Rights)

Not only geography, but history matters in the annual translation transaction Olympiad. Kim Williams knows her counterparts at the foreign publishers and has worked with many of them for years. She knows their tastes, interests, and strengths. The experience she brings to the task and the development of these relationships, invest her exchanges with insight and efficiency, providing a kind of multicultural shorthand for conducting the world’s book business.

And the game of tongues matters. Over the past ten years the number of Princeton’s translation licenses has nearly tripled. Rights deals in Chinese over this period have increased almost tenfold, translations into Japanese have almost tripled, and Korean rights deals have also increased dramatically. And this growth is not limited to Asian markets. We’ve seen equally strong growth in the number of Turkish, Czech, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish translations, among others. Taken all together this increased activity reflects changes in international economic development and national cultural priorities. This upward trend in translation activity will only increase as economic development rises. It would be interesting to know how many of our translated titles win awards and other accolades in their adopted languages.

And much as the annual idea-swap in Frankfurt provides us with a window on the world, it also tells us a lot about ourselves. From a distance, it tells us which subjects “travel” well, yielding valuable insights into list-planning and therefore into editorial acquisitions. From a closer standpoint, it provides a powerfully compelling preview of how a publisher’s upcoming list is likely to perform. If three dozen foreign publishers are panting over a particular title, chances are you’ve got a winner in English as well as around the world in other language markets.

Finally, a week at a rights table in Frankfurt gives a publisher a glimpse into its soul. Just how good are we? Are certain lists as strong as we think they are? Are we current or are we yesterday’s news? Do our lists have the three Ds–depth, dimension, and durability–or are we publishing mere ephemera? The five-day stress test in front of the world’s hard-bitten foreign publishers answers those questions, sometimes painfully, other times reassuringly.

As the global university press evolves, table talk in Frankfurt will continue to serve as a vital indicator of our impact around the world and our insight into ourselves.

Peter J. Dougherty
Director
Princeton University Press

 

Click through to check out the covers of various On Bullshit translations.

For more information about Princeton University Press’s foreign rights program, please visit http://press.princeton.edu/europe/content/pages/rights.html

No Matter How You Say It — It’s Still “On Bullshit” — books in translation for #UPWeek

Peter Dougherty’s consideration of the impact of translations for university presses is available here. One of the best parts of getting our books into translation, is seeing what the foreign publishers do with the cover, title, and design. This poster illustrates a few interpretations of the NY Times best-seller On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. On Bullshit is one of our success stories. It has been published in more than 25 languages.

onBullshit

#UPWeek Blog Tour turns its attention to the importance of regional publishing on Day 4

upweekUniversity Presses make tremendous scholarly contributions, but they also operate as local publishers, publishing the best regional books for their respective states. These books can be anything from cookbooks to walking tours, narrative histories to pop culture and art coffee table books. It may be tempting to write off this portion of our publishing programs as frivolous, but as the blog tour stops demonstrate today, this would be a big mistake.

Fordham University Press
fordhamimpressions.com

Fredric Nachbaur, Press Director, writes about establishing the Empires State Editions imprint to better brand and market the regional books, reflect the mission of the university, and co-publish books with local institutions.

Louisiana State University Press
blog.lsupress.org
LSU Press discusses the challenges they face in capturing an authentic representation of Louisiana’s culture. How do the editors work with authors to capture the nuances of Louisiana’s food, music, and art?
Syracuse University Press
syracusepress.wordpress.com

Regional author, Chuck D’Imperio discusses the roots of regional writing in many of the “classics.” From oral testimonies to local guidebooks, these stories contribute to the culture and history of the region.

University of Alabama Press
uapressblog.wordpress.com
University of Nebraska Press
nebraskapress.typepad.com

UNP’s Editor-in-Chief Derek Krissoff defines the meaning of place in University Press publishing.

University of North Carolina Press
uncpressblog.com

UNC Press editorial director Mark Simpson-Vos highlights the special value of regional university press
publishing at a time when the scale for so much of what we do emphasizes the global.

University Press of Kentucky
kentuckypress.wordpress.com
UPK considers its role in preserving Kentucky’s cultural heritage and some of the fun things that make KY (and KY books) unique.
University Press of Mississippi
upmississippi.blogspot.com

UPM Marketing Manager and author of two books Steve Yates gives his thoughts on the scale of regional publishing and shares the sage advice of businessmen

Oregon State University Press
osupress.oregonstate.edu/blog
A great quick intro to regional publishing and highlights from OSU Press’s regional catalog.

The complete schedule for the blog tour is located here.

Day 3 of the #UPWeek Blog Tour focuses on specialty subjects from some of our colleagues

upweekFor Day 3 of the University Press Week Blog Tour, we turn our attention to the content–the subjects of the books, journals, series, and everything else–we publish. This is an opportunity for presses to highlight special subject areas in which they publish, or subjects for which their press is particularly well known.

MIT Press
mitpress.mit.edu/blog

Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director, writes about the possibilities of the web. MIT Press authors are increasingly using the internet for scholarship, finding newly mediated ways to teach, to conduct research, to present data, and to engage with various publics.

Texas A&M University Press
tamupress.blogspot.com
University of Georgia Press
ugapress.blogspot.com
Nik Heynen, Deborah Cowen, and Melissa W. Wright, series co-editors, will discuss UGA Press geography books, specifically as they relate to the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation series.
University of Pennsylvania Press
pennpress.typepad.com

Penn Press acquisitions editors discuss the foundations and future of some of the press’s key subject areas.

University of Toronto Press
utpblog.utpress.utoronto.ca

A discussion of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies lists.


Wilfrid Laurier University Press
nestor.wlu.ca/blog

Cheryl Lousley, editor of the Environmental Humanities series, writes about the engagement of environmental issues through the humanities disciplines, such as literature, film, and media studies, for example. She outlines the genesis of the series and discusses some of the most recent publications.

The complete schedule for the blog tour is located here.

Day 2 of the #UPWeek Blog Tour is underway with posts on the future of scholarly communication

upweekThe focus of Day 2 of the University Press Week Blog Tour is “The Future of Scholarly Communications”. University Presses are engaged in a wide variety of new initiatives designed to acquire and publish meaningful scholarship in new and innovative ways and in partnerships with libraries, organizations, and other groups with vested interests in this area of what we do. Today we celebrate a few of these initiatives and take a peek at what the future holds for us all.

Duke University Press
dukeupress.typepad.com
Priscilla Wald, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Duke University, on the slow future of scholarly communication.
Harvard University Press
harvardpress.typepad.com
Jeffrey Schnapp, faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and editor of the new metaLABprojects book series, on the emerging currents of experimental scholarship for which the series provides a platform.
Stanford University Press
stanfordpress.typepad.com

Alan Harvey, Press Director, discusses the challenges presented by new technologies in publishing, and how the industry model is adapting to new reading-consumption habits.

Temple University Press
templepress.wordpress.com

Alex Holzman explores the partnerships university presses and libraries can forge as the means of communicating scholarship evolves.

University of Minnesota Press
uminnpressblog.com
Editor Dani Kasprzak describes a new UMP initiative.
University of Texas Press
utpressnews.blogspot.com

Robert Devens, Assistant Editor-in-Chief for the University of Texas Press, on the future of scholarly communication.

University of Virginia Press
www.upress.virginia.edu/blog

Historian Holly Shulman, editor of The Dolley Madison Digital Edition and the forthcoming People of the Founding Era, looks at the need for university presses to adapt to new technologies, while ackowledging the difficulties of doing so.

The complete schedule for the blog tour is located here.

University Press Week begins today! Visit these tour stops to learn about who we are and what we do. #UPWeek

upweekThe focus of Day 1 of the University Press Week Blog Tour is “Meet the Press”. This can mean anything from introducing individuals who work at university presses to features on what university presses do and how we contribute to scholarly communication and, in many cases, general reading and knowledge.

McGill-Queen’s University Press
www.mqup.ca/blog
Editors Jonathan Crago and Kyla Madden reflect on their university press experiences and what’s in the cards for MQUP’s future.
Penn State Press
psupress.blogspot.com
University of Illinois Press
www.press.uillinois.edu/wordpress
University of Hawai‘i Press
uhpress.wordpress.com
UHP’s soon-to-retire journals manager reflects on a long and well-traveled career with stops at many presses.
University of Missouri Press
umissouripress.blogspot.com
University Press of Colorado
www.upcolorado.com/content/news
Laura Furney, managing editor at University Press of Colorado has been with the press for 20 years and will describe her role in two recent developments.
University Press of Florida
foridabookshelf.wordpress.com
A report from a UPF acquisitions editor who is working to develop and grow innovative new subject areas.

The complete schedule for the blog tour is located here.

Free #UPWeek event “Innovation in Scholarly Publishing”

upweekAs part of the celebration of University Press Week, Association of American University Presses is hosting a free online program “Innovation in Scholarly Publishing”, November 15 at 2:30 PM: http://shindig.com/event/innovation

Join speakers *William Germano*, Dean of Cooper Union, author, and former Editor in Chief of Columbia University Press, *Kathleen Fitzpatrick*, Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, and *Gita Manaktala*, Editorial Director at The MIT Press and moderator *Carlin Romano*, Critic-at-Large of/The Chronicle of Higher Education/, former President of the National Book Critics Circle, and a Guggenheim Fellow, for a discussion of the implications of recent technological and cultural shifts for the work of AAUP members and their authors.

More information and RSVP: http://shindig.com/event/innovation

Don’t forget that the University Press Week Blog Tour starts on Monday, November 11! Complete schedule is available here. Princeton University Press will contribute to the tour on Friday.

37 presses (including PUP!) will kick off University Press Week (November 10-16) with a blog tour #UPWeek

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Click to view a larger version of the schedule

Next month, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) will celebrate University Press Week November 10-16. This week started back in the summer of 1978 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a University Press Week “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.”

In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, Princeton University Press and 36 other presses will unite for the AAUP’s second annual blog tour during University Press Week. This tour will highlight the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society. Individual presses will blog on a different theme each day, including profiles of university press staff members, the future of scholarly communication, subject area spotlights, the importance of regional publishing, and the global reach of university presses.

The tour will run November 11-15, and comes to our blog on November 15, with a post by Press Director Peter Dougherty reflecting on his trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair. For a complete University Press Week blog tour schedule click here. And if you want to look back at what we did last year, you can re-read this fantastic interview with Dorothea von Moltke the owner of Labyrinth Books.

In addition to the blog tour, the AAUP and other member presses are planning several features and events for University Press Week. For more information, visit universitypressweek.org.

University Press Week Blog Tour, the final day round-up

NYU Press kicks things off today with a quick note from author and New York Times editor Connie Rosenblum on the importance of University Presses in telling regional stories, such as the one found in her recent book Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope Along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. She writes,

“At first glance, the subject might have seemed intensely local. But to my mind, the story of one of the most iconic, and most battered, urban areas in the nation was of profound importance, and I’m immensely grateful that NYU Press made it possible for that story to reach a broad audience.”

Columbia University Press earns bonus points for posting not one, but two, articles on the importance of university presses and their possible futures. The first is by Sheldon Pollock, who is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University. Pollock calls upon the university and its faculty to become more involved with university presses. The second from Jennifer Crewe, editorial director and associate director at Columbia University Press, describes university presses’ willingness and ability to innovate to meet new intellectual and economic challenges.

University of North Carolina Press offers a fascinating article from John Sherer, director of UNC Press, in which he reflects on his rewarding return to university press publishing after years of being “higher on the publishing food chain” in NYC trade publishing.

While there’s no doubt that the print runs and advances are smaller here, the world of university press publishing is hardly less complicated than its corporate cousins; nor is it less open to risk and reward. In fact, the challenges that university presses face are leading to a new spirit of entrepreneurship and putting a spotlight on the critical role they play in the academic and publishing ecosystems.

University of Virginia Press opens the forum to their author Catherine Allgor. Like so many university press authors, following the success of her earlier book, Dr. Allgor dipped a toe into trade publishing, only to discover the experience paled in comparison with the “holistic business” approach of a university press. I always have mixed feelings when I hear our authors are being courted by trade houses — it means we did our job of promoting their earlier books well and of course who can begrudge authors for wanting to be paid well for their work, but I am also secretly worried that they might not get the attention they deserve, too. Maybe some of them will eventually return to their university press roots, but for now, here is the “B-School takeaway” from Dr. Allgor:

“Excellence. Integrity. Unanimity. From beginning to end, the integrity of the ideas and the commitment to making the best book we could drove every decision. Author, editor, contributors, production people, marketing staff—we all had one aim in mind. We who wrote and edited struggled to fulfill the intellectual potential of presenting Mary Cutts’s biography of her famous aunt to a reading public. The process of creating this book with UVP has truly been an exercise in holistic business.”

And the final stop in the University Press Week Blog Tour is Oregon State University Press where they offer up a virtual smorgasbord of posts from authors and interns. The final post is from Jessica Kibbler, the George P. Griffis Publishing Intern, and reflects on how her experiences at OSU Press have opened her eyes to the digital possibilities in publishing. But, I encourage you to check out earlier articles from authors Richard Etulain (“University Presses: A Love Affair”), Robert Michael Pyle “(University Presses: Writing of Substance”), Brian Doyle (“University Presses: Telling Stories That Wouldn’t Be Told”), Ana Maria Spagna (“University Presses: What They Are (and Aren’t)“).

 

To revisit any of our earlier posts about University Press Week, please click here.

 

 

University Press Week (#UPWeek) Blog Tour, Day 4 round up

Day 5 of the Princeton University Press Week Blog Tour is already underway, but we thought Day 4 was a particularly exciting day on the tour (and not just because Princeton University Press’s scheduled slot kicked things off!). We posted an insightful Q&A with local bookstore owner, Dorothea von Moltke. Labyrinth Books is a fixture in Princeton, NJ, and they have been true supporters and partners for the types of books and authors university presses publish. We are grateful she agreed to participate in the festivities surrounding University Press Week this year, though truly, every week seems to be University Press Week in her store.

The next leg of the tour took us to Indiana University Press where former intern Nico Perrino, made a case for university presses as an essential cog in the “Sophistication Machine”:

Just as actors need a stage to put on a performance and a factory needs a loading dock to send customers their widgets, scholars and researchers need these university presses to disseminate their research to students, politicians, and other scholars and scientists who depend on their work to innovate and push the endless quest for knowledge forward.

Fordham University Press Director Fredric Nachbaur describes one of the critically important ways university presses impact the world around us. Whenever something unexpected occurs in the world — it doesn’t always have to be a disaster, but conceivably could be something really positive as well — the media turn to university press resources, books, and authors to explain what is happening, what history led to this moment, and what it means for the future.

Witnessing all the damage caused by Sandy has me feeling a melancholy. I was born and raised in New Jersey and spent many summers “down the shore.” In recent summers I have taken my daughter to some of the same beaches I enjoyed as a kid. I’ve been a New Yorker since 1991 and am a regular visitor to Coney Island, and lived for a short time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is quite devastating to see all the massive destruction done to our great city and state and to our neighbors in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. As I was preparing to write my post for University Press Week, I reflected on how university presses have bonded together in the past during times of tragedy to help us all understand what is happening at the moment and how we can move forward. “Books for Understanding” was developed by the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) soon after 9/11 to bring the latest and most valuable scholarship to readers in an easy to find and easy to use place. The AAUP instantly became a resource for people who wanted to know more and to find it from reliable sources—University Presses—the pillars of knowledge. The day after hurricane Sandy hit, a reporter from the Huffington Post contacted me about a Fordham University Press (FUP) author who wrote a history of the NYC subways. She wanted to interview him about the flooding of the tunnels and the mass transit shutdown. It is a prime example of how the media turns to university presses for expertise during times of crisis.

Texas A&M University Press author Loren Steffy reflects on his family’s relationship with TAMU Press. Both he and his father are authors, and neither of their stories could have been told anywhere else, according to Steffy. He also provides a lovely take-away thought, “The value of a university press, like an ancient shipwreck, can’t be measured in dollars or commercial success.”

Jacqueline Beilhart, the publicist at Georgetown University Press, explores the unique role university press’s have in language teaching. Prompted by Nina Ayoub’s observation that university presses offer a lot of books in Less Commonly Taught Languages. She also helpfully provides a complete list of the offerings from university presses, including our own Princeton Language Program: Modern Chinese (http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/series/plpmc.html)

For a complete schedule of the tour, click here.

Visit our previous round-ups to link to more terrific articles.

 

University Press Blog Tour (#UPWeek), A Conversation with the Co-owner of Labyrinth Books

This post is part of the University Press Week Blog Tour (A complete blog tour schedule is also available here). After reading this Q&A, please head over to the next stop on the tour at Indiana University Press.

While local, independent bookstores seem to be an endangered species, they remain a key partner for University Presses. For this reason, we were thrilled when Dorothea von Moltke, co-owner of Princeton’s local book store Labyrinth Books, agreed to participate in a quick interview about how she views university presses and what our books mean for her business.

 


Dorothea von Moltke, co-owner of Labyrinth Books

 

PUP: Labyrinth is a fixture in Princeton and you have also opened stores near Yale and Columbia. You are not a “university book store,” but you are a “university town book store” which seems to be a unique niche that influences everything from your events program to the books on your shelves. Was this a conscious decision to go into university towns and why?

Dorothea von Moltke: Oh very much so. Fundamentally, what kind of bookstore you have will always depend on what kind of readers you are. My husband, Cliff Simms, and I are students of the humanities in particular and my brother-in-law, Peter Simms, who is also co-owner, shares our broad interests across the literary and visual arts.  Proximity to the intellectual and cultural life of a university has mattered, moreover, to us personally from the outset.

But the idea has always been to be a two-way conduit between a university and its broader context, or at least an intersection for the two. Our events programming is, as a result, very eclectic, ranging from scholarly discussions around academic titles, to poetry and literary readings, civic forums or film screenings. Ideally, not everyone already knows everyone else in the room on these occasions.

PUP: Labyrinth offers best-sellers alongside a deep list of academic titles. How heavily do University Presses figure into your business model? How do you select the university press books you are going to sell?

DvM: Our ambition is in fact to carry both a broad range of front list titles and deep backlist sections from University Presses as well as trade publishers. We spend a lot of time with all University Press catalogs in ordering, inviting input from all booksellers with particular interests and knowledge in specific fields. One of the real rewards of being in the book industry comes from the fact that there are lots of great people both in publishing and at other independent stores — over time, these become relationships that also feed into what you know and how you buy. We then invite publishers’ reps to the store for conversations with our staff about the current season’s titles so that there is a more generalized familiarity with the inventory and a chance for comments and questions.

Our commitment to the backlist, meaning to books that have been around for more than 9 months, means that we also source academic and other remainders with a lot of determination so as to bring things back to the shelves and tables that the market may have given up elsewhere.

PUP: What are some of the breakout, or particularly memorable, university press books you’ve sold in recent years? Could you share any anecdotes about author events?

DvM: What to choose? Certainly, Peter Brown’s new book this fall, Through the Eye of a Needle, one of your books at PUP, is exciting to see strong sales on. This is a 806 page social and economic history of the church in late antiquity by one of this country’s foremost classicists and it is selling incredibly well. We’ll hold an event in December, which will be a dialog between Peter Brown and Elaine Pagels. I can’t imagine a more perfect pair for talking about the social and political aspects of early Church history. It is true that Princeton University Press works hard to keep prices affordable, which certainly makes a difference. This is an example of real buzz around an academic title in our store.

I could name lots of other titles that have done well, but our focus throughout the store and nowhere more than with University Press books is to give books a long life. They don’t need to be flashy, they don’t need to sell fast, they just need to still seem relevant to a deeper understanding of our past, present, or future. By the same token, it isn’t always the event that brings an audience of 250 that is most memorable: I think back to a conversation with Leo Bersani about his book Intimacies (University of Chicago Press) more often than I think back to last spring’s event with Slavoj Žižek for God in Pain: Inversions of the Apocalypse (Seven Stories Press) and his big book on Hegel, Less Than Nothing (Verso). Both were exciting, but the small event with Bersani was full of surprises and felt like a seminar more than anything else.

PUP: Independent book stores and university presses seem to have been thrown into the same boat in the broad narrative of the future of the trade. I can no more imagine a world without a Labyrinth Books as I can a world without a Princeton University Press. What do you think the future holds for book-selling, and more specifically for academic book-selling?

DvM: You know: I can imagine a future without Labyrinth Books. It isn’t so hard to do. That doesn’t mean I think it’s imminent or inevitable. But already a project such as ours can exist only on the margins of the culture at large; we are extremely lucky in this town and in our partnership with Princeton University. I can think of a handful of contexts in which our model might be reproducible but not many, which is how you know that what you do can only exist outside of what is considered the mainstream. But outside of the mainstream is, for us, anyway the place to be.

Especially in conversations about e-books, there is often a tendency to talk as if the future is something pre-formed that just hasn’t made it here yet rather than that which we all bring about and shape. So again: I think there is room for invention and reinvention within a horizon of narrowing possibilities.

I see University Presses re-imagining themselves constantly as well. The e-book is, to my mind, actually perfect for many academic monographs. Other University Press books will, I believe, be precisely the kinds of books that many will want to continue to read in print. The trend towards e-books is, as you know, not at all even across all genres of books. It’s in this kind of unevenness that bookstores and University Presses both have to find their equilibrium, by definition a challenging task, but an interesting one.

PUP: Some bookstores are already making the leap to selling e-books. I apologize for not knowing this already, but does Labyrinth sell eBooks? Is that something you would consider if you don’t? Can the role of a bookstore as “tastemaker” and curator of books continue into the e-market?

DvM: I think that increasingly independent bookstores with whom we are in regular dialog and who have tested this–and as we are part of a wonderful network called the Independent Booksellers Consortium there are many–are increasingly coming to a similar conclusion: the idea that independent bookstores have a role to play in the selling of e-books is a kind of mirage: you think there is a purpose there, though profitability is certainly not it, but perhaps customer retention could be?, and then it turns out there is, effectively, none.

The experiment between Google Books and independent bookstores via the American Bookseller’s Association, which was much discussed last year, has not been a success. As part of our general service in providing coursebooks, we certainly are able to and do meet any demand from professors to source e-books for their students, but you’d be amazed at how rare those requests are.

PUP: Existing in a “university town” offers unique opportunities for collaboration and partnerships, can you describe a few of the more successful initiatives?

DvM: I can’t think of much that we do that doesn’t involve collaborations with others. The University itself is in many ways our most important partner and we have, for instance, been able to re-tool how we buy and sell coursebooks as a result. But we constantly join with departments on campus, with arts or other cultural organizations around town and in the area, with schools, with civic groups between New Brunswick and Trenton, and simply with folks in town who come to us with an idea for an event or maybe for a window display, etc.

Currently, there is an incredibly active handful of people connected to a church in Princeton, who have mobilized broadly to read Michelle Alexander’s hugely important book The New Jim Crow in the community and to schedule programming around the issues of deep, structural and continued racism in the US. Of course, this is something we want to participate in in any way we can, pooling resources for getting word out about this programming, heavily discounting the book to readers, etc.

 

More about Labyrinth Books:

 

Labyrinth Books is an acclaimed academic and community bookstore located in Princeton, NJ. Princeton residents and visitors know the store can always be relied upon to provide recent books that form the backbone of current debates both inside and outside of the universities. But, they are equally committed to the longevity of books, so they stock backlist titles with the greatest of care, mindful that “kites rise against the wind, not with it.” (L. Mumford)

Labyrinth strives to be a place in which to get lost and discover what you didn’t know you were looking for. Through its robust program of in-store events and ongoing collaborations with local partners including Princeton University Press, the store remains an important site for the exchange of ideas.