International Sales Director Andrew Brewer: A Visit to Australia

Australia is large and a very long way away from the US and UK. These are well-known facts about the country. Less well-known, but common knowledge at the Press, is that Australia is a vibrant English-language book market, with a flourishing independent bookshop sector. Book sales are not dominated by online vendors. This is a very distinctive feature of the market there and makes it especially attractive for any English-language publisher, and especially one with global ambition.

But to return to the first point: Australia’s distance from our main centres of production means our books arrive there with a considerable freight cost applied. The result is an uncomfortable price fit with the local market. In addition the higher prices on our books actively encourage buying around, so individuals frequently take advantage of offshore online vendors, like The Book Depository in the UK (who offer free freight around the world). As a consequence, a proportion of our sales to Australia do not register in the ANZ territory at all.

Nevertheless, our sales and distribution partner in Australia – Footprint – have done a consistent job getting Princeton books into bookshops there, both chain and independent, and I travelled to Australia to judge this at first hand in February. Like the books, I also arrived with a considerable freight cost applied. It was my good fortune to be accompanied by Sarah Caro who, as well as joining me for some of my meetings, was there on the lookout for future authors among the local academic community. Sarah also found time to fulfill another of our global Princeton duties – adding to the Princeton in the World series:

 

We visited Melbourne and Sydney. There were many displays of Princeton books to be seen. Here are some highlights:

Readings Bookshop, Melbourne. This is a great bookshop, close to the university. Bright, modern, lively, with knowledgeable and engaged staff.

More from Readings. The Ancient Wisdom series was a constant bookshop companion throughout the trip, showing up in virtually every store we visited. We already know it’s a great series, but in distant locations like Australia, a series like this has great value for the way it extends the Princeton brand.      

Ai Weiwei books stacked up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The HIGHLIGHTS wall at the lovely Kinokuniya store in Sydney, where we see more Ancient Wisdom on display (middle drop, third shelf down).

And here is Ai Weiwei’s Humanity (bottom l/h corner), playing its part in the Crazy Good Asian promotion at the front of the Kino store:

 

Along with our visits to accounts, we were invited to the opening of the new campus bookshop at the University of New South Wales, where author Marcus Zusak gave an entertaining speech (he’s also a very friendly guy). Another striking element of the event was hearing the vice-chancellor of the university tell the audience that books and bookshops were central to the university’s vision for their students; this is an enlightened viewpoint!

The Future:

One result of the higher prices applied to Princeton books, and the buying around among consumers to better the local price, is rather flat sales year-to-year, which do not map onto our overall international sales growth.

So what are we doing to address this? One strategy is to experiment with locally produced editions of our books specifically for the ANZ market. The first such experiment will be John Quiggin’s Economics in Two Lessons. Quiggin is at University of Queensland, and his Zombie Economics did well for us in Australia. Because the trade market there has a strong preference for new titles in paperback, we will produce our edition of Quiggin in paper, priced at the level the market expects. It will be an interesting trial run for a programme we hope we can extend steadily over time.

In the longer term, we would also like to print more of our titles closer to the ANZ market. China is the obvious location. Production in China should reduce to some extent the cost-to-market for our books. Australia represents a wonderful opportunity for our books to sell, whilst also offering significant challenges. We look forward to establishing ourselves more firmly in the bookselling world there.

 

Rebecca Bengoechea on the Guadalajara Book Fair

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico: the home of mariachi, tequila, and since 1987, the Feria del Libros Internacional (FIL), Latin America’s premier bookfair. This year, PUP’s Rights team were delighted to visit for the first time.

The fair boasts publishers from over 44 countries, from the bigger markets of Argentina, Brazil and of course Mexico, all the way down to Panama, Costa Rica and Uruguay. There were stands converted into bookshops, from the colossal stands of publishers such as Planeta or Fondo de Cultura, to the tiny used and antique English-language book shop. The Guest of Honour this year was Portugal, and we were thrilled to see that there were a number of Portuguese publishers who made the trip. The fair’s professional days of Monday-Wednesday are book-ended by the fair being open to the public, and this dynamic really lent a special atmosphere to the events, with children and enthusiastic students reminding us why we are all in the book business!

Following a visit to Spain back in May where I was able to explore the Spanish market, I was very eager to broaden my scope further to Latin America and the Spanish speaking market. As with PUP’s recent attentions in China, any chance to increase our presence in Latin America goes a long way to making PUP a truly global press.

We were guided by PUP’s new Director for Rights, Contracts, and Permissions, Ines ter Horst, who had attended the fair before and who has extensive contacts in the different markets. We were based in the Rights Centre, but also took meetings on various publisher’s stands, attended some very important wine & empanada (Argentina) and rum & chocolate (Venezuelan/Chilean) networking events, and the wonderful reception at the biggest bookshop in Guadalajara, the Libreria de Carlos Fuentes.

It was an immersive experience; a whirlwind of meetings, receptions, a fantastic programme of talks, food, not to mention the all-important salsa music that lent the fair a truly Latin flavour. Unlike other book fairs such as Frankfurt where our intensive schedules are usually fully-booked months in advance, Guadalajara’s charm was a more relaxed atmosphere that allowed us to capitalise on spontaneous opportunities and meet with people we would otherwise not have encountered. Our days were still filled, but with more in-depth discussions, market research, and crucially invaluable networking that we hope will bear fruit in the years to come.  

The Rights team were there, as with the other annual book fairs we attend, primarily with the aim of meeting with publishers from various countries, promoting our books, and discussing the possibilities for translation licenses. We were also able to wear various other hats during the fair; embracing discussions about the sales and distribution of our English language books, the developments in Print On Demand schemes in Latin America, and listening to news of Spanish language projects that our editors might want to acquire and publish with PUP.

The fair was full of energy, optimism, fun, and the spirit of collaboration. It provided wonderful insights into a vast and vibrant Spanish-speaking ecosystem, perhaps too often neglected by the Anglophone world. The enthusiasm was infectious and we came away filled with excitement, already frantically planning our return next year where we hope to make an even bigger splash.

Princeton University Press Partnership with Public Books

Princeton University Press is pleased to announce that we have entered into a nonexclusive partnership with Public Books to reprint an ongoing series of essays containing press-related content to be featured concurrently on our respective sites. Princeton University Press publishes peer-reviewed books that connect authors and readers across spheres of knowledge to advance and enrich the global conversation, and embrace the highest standards of scholarship, inclusivity, and diversity. Public Books unites the best of the university with the openness of the internet. The digital magazine was founded in 2012 by Princeton University Press authors Sharon Marcus, a literature professor, and Caitlin Zaloom, an anthropologist. Their mission was simple: to publish essays and interviews that are erudite without being esoteric and brings scholarly depth to discussions of contemporary art, ideas, and politics.

Public Books began with these precepts: that experts who devote their lives to mastering their subjects need to be heard. That it is desirable for academics to speak to a broader audience, and exciting for readers outside of the academy to debate what scholars have to say. Most importantly, that boundaries between disciplines and ways of knowing deserve to be bridged—and that barriers between the academy and the public deserve to be broken.

Princeton University Press and Public Books share a commitment to bringing scholarly ideas to the world. We look forward to promoting exciting content that speaks to this mission in the Ideas section of our new website, launching later this month. 

Inaugural essays from this partnership can be found here and here. Future contributions will be found in the new Ideas section of our redesigned website, launching soon.

An Innocent Abroad: Starting Out in Oxford

It is by a stroke of good fortune and a gesture of good faith that PUP has seen fit to permit me to spend this academic year living and working from Oxford. It is good fortune insofar as we have a lovely and cozy (and I do mean cozy) office in Woodstock full (and I do mean full) of wonderful colleagues who all share our trans-Atlantic commitment to being a global publisher. It shows good faith that our Director Christie Henry and the Head of Our European Office Caroline Priday, have supported this knowing there was a distinct possibility I might enter that shrine to books that is Blackwell’s legendary bookshop never to be seen or heard from again (more on that later).

It was a busy first month or so getting settled in our home away from home. I am now largely familiar with the inner workings of the banking system, the variety of mobile phone plans, and what school “catchments” mean as well as the fact that there is something called “Brexit” which most everyone seems to agree is bad, but which a frightening number of people think that they should “just get on with it already”, as if it were just a routine appendectomy. (It is also no joking matter, unless, of course, you are a guest on one of the several news quiz show panels on the BBC that I have become addicted to). After I mastered that, I looked something like this:

I was then off and running, almost literally, to as many as meetings as I can muster each week with scholars here in Oxford. This is the scholarly publisher’s equivalent of a kid in candy store and if I am anything like my son, with whom I have been to actual candy stores, this may require some boxes and a handtruck.

As our authors Daniel Bell and Avner de Shalit call it in their book The Spirit of Cities, Oxford is truly the “City of Learning.” It is the original and ultimate college town. It is not so much “town and gown” as “town as gown.” Walking the streets you can’t help but feel this is a place dedicated to learning (or if you are in Christ Church where they filmed the Hogwarts dining hall scenes in the Harry Potter movies, a place dedicated to learning magic). It is an inspiring place of students, scholars and scholarship, and really, really old buildings. Back in Princeton, I can recall walking past Nassau Hall and thinking how cool it was that it dates back to the mid-18th century when the college was founded. That’s what they call a “new college” here. In fact, there is a New College Oxford and it was founded in 1379! But there is undoubtedly an academic aroma constantly in the air—albeit mixed with the occasional wafting of spices from a kebab truck parked on Broad St. most evenings (and that’s “kebab” pronounced to rhyme with “tab” not “bob”).

It is thrilling to be here in such surroundings and to see a city essentially dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and its transmission. But that feeling isn’t limited to the university itself. In the center of town across the street from the world’s great library, The Bodleian, is another great temple dedicated to books, the aforementioned Blackwell’s Bookshop, whose offerings are immense, immaculate, and often “3 for the price of 2”— a blessed offering as any I have encountered.

Get 3 for 2! Or better yet 6 for 4! Collect them all!

Going there on a Saturday or Sunday morning is akin to a holy experience. Just look at how many people showed up on Saturday morning at 11am to hear Nigel Warburton in conversation with Sue Prideaux, author of a new biography of Nietzsche. I was first in line to get her to sign a copy of her book and, of course, tell her about our soon to be published intellectual biography of Nietzsche biographer and translator, Walter Kaufmann. She seemed genuinely eager to receive a copy (arguably to make up for the fact that there is only one footnote to Kaufmann in her biography) which we will dispatch soon (that’s right dispatch, not send).

Just another Saturday morning in Oxford

The shop is teeming with the eye candy of beautifully designed and packaged books that scream, “judge this book by its cover!” And you would be right to do so, because the contents are often as alluring as the cover is fetching. My weekly (or thrice weekly) trips to Blackwell’s have reminded me that there is in this worrisome world an audience for serious non-fiction properly packaged and promoted. And this is true not just at Blackwell’s but at the other bookstores I have visited here as well. Serious books remain a potent source for understanding. I am also immensely pleased and proud that they seem to really like our Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers series (either that or Andrew Brewer, our International Sales Director, told them I was coming and bribed them to strategically place these face-out around the store; I guess they call that co-op back in the States).

Display your wisdom!

In fact, our Ancient World offerings are very well-represented here as well as so many of our other books.

As I write Thanksgiving approaches—well, not here it doesn’t, though Black Friday seems to have strangely caught on—so it seemed as good a time as any to say how immensely thankful I am for my sojourn here, how thankful I am to my colleagues, the city of Oxford, and especially Blackwell’s for reminding me each and every week why I love being in publishing so very much (and why I need that job if I am going to pay for all these books I am buying).

P.S. Lest people think I only spend my time in bookstores, we did make a trip to Greece at the end of October for my son’s “half-term” break (the schools appear to be closed here roughly every eight weeks) where I visited the Temple of Hephaestus. To find out more about the god Hephaestus see Adrienne Mayor’s just published Gods and Robots.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rob Tempio

Senior Publisher, Executive Editor, Expatriate

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scholarship recipients will be announced in March 2018.

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

Princeton University Press opens office in China

为了在世界范围内更深入地推动大学出版社的学术使命并开展多样的业务活动,普林斯顿大学出版社于2017年2月成功在中国建立了法律实体,这使得普林斯顿大学出版社在成为一个全球化出版社的道路上迈入了更新的阶段。2017年8月,普林斯顿大学出版社位于北京的中国办公室正式揭幕,期望未来能在东西方学术及文化交流中起到重要作用。

As a crucial milestone in the effort to build a thriving global university press, Princeton University Press successfully established a legal entity in China on Feb. 14, 2017, which enables PUP to further advance its scholarly mission and business ambition on a global stage. PUP announced the opening of its China Office in August 2017. PUP wishes to play a more important role in fostering cross-cultural academic conversations.

Princeton University Press is very proud to announce the opening of its China office in Beijing on August 15, 2017, the first such presence for a U.S. university press. Following the successful establishment of its first international office, in Europe in 1999, PUP has chosen to expand in China because of the country’s growing investment in higher education and scholarly research and its increasing centrality in the world of ideas and the world itself. The Press regards its opening in China as a step toward greater engagement with outstanding scholars in China and throughout Asia, both as readers and as prospective authors.

Princeton’s China office is led by Lingxi Li, a graduate of Beijing Normal and Columbia universities. In the past few months, we are very proud to have hired an additional three office staff members to drive and support our efforts in China: Chu Wu, who transferred from Princeton to the China office to begin a new role as the Operations and Marketing Associate; Tiantian Li, who joined the China office as Business Analyst; and Jingwen Sun, who is our Consultative Sales Associate.

During this year’s Beijing Book Fair (August 23-27, 2017) Princeton University Press sent a team of six: Scot Kuehm (CFO), Al Bertrand (Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publishing Director), Brigitta van Rheinberg (Director of Global Development and History Publisher), Kim Williams (International Rights Director, from the UK office), Alison Kalett (Executive Editor, Biology and Neuroscience), and Vickie Kearn (Executive Editor, Mathematics and Computer Science). The team had many successful meetings before and during the Fair: visits, facilitated by PUP’s Chinese subagent David Tsai, from the Bardon Chinese Media Agency, to several publishers (such as Ginkgo, Citic, China Machine Press), as well as meetings during the Fair with many other of the Press’s prominent Chinese publishing partners. PUP now typically concludes more than 100 Chinese-language licenses annually in China, the biggest translation market for PUP.

The team also concluded successful meetings with a host of important distributors such as CEPIEC and CNPIEC, the latter one of the leading distributors in China, as well as Amazon China, Shanghai Book Trader, and the DeGruyter team, among many others.

Princeton’s team was also involved in two major speaking events during the Book Fair: One was called “Princeton University Press: The Growth of Translation Licensing in China and Opportunities to Collaborate in the Future,” a presentation by Kim Williams detailing PUP’s rights activities and laying out future collaboration with Chinese publishing colleagues. The second presentation was a keynote speech given by Al Bertrand during the Fair’s Academic Publishing forum, with the title “Maintaining Academic Excellence, Reaching a Global Audience.” In his presentation, Bertrand described the Press’s efforts in the global arena and gave an overview of how the Press maintains its standard of excellence. The overall theme for this year’s publishing forum was “University Presses in a Global Context: Disseminating Knowledge Worldwide.” Other speakers were Wu Shulin, Vice President of the Publishers Association of China; Ju Dongming, Director of Zheijang University Press; and Peter Schoppert, Director of the National University of Singapore Press. Brigitta van Rheinberg moderated the event.

On the Sunday after the Fair, Princeton’s team hosted its second annual meeting with its China Academic Advisory Board, which consists of eleven leading Chinese scholars, who will be working with PUP on deepening our institutional relationships in the Chinese academy as well as identifying individual scholarly projects that will contribute to our effort to make Princeton’s author pool more global, especially regarding China.

Youngsuk Chi, Chairman of Elsevier and a member of the PUP Board of Trustees, gave the opening remarks, which was followed by presentations by board members, who gave overviews of their fields and spoke about how PUP can engage with scholars in these disciplines.

We couldn’t be more grateful to everyone we met and talked with at the Beijing Book Fair and throughout our exciting and successful trip to China. With our new China office, with our new PUP colleagues in China, with the renewal of our conversations with our China Academic Advisory Board, and with a host of related activities, our connections with the Chinese publishing and academic communities are growing stronger every day.

 

Frankfurt Book Fair by the Numbers

As a global publisher actively expanding our international community, Princeton University Press was proud to send an entourage of 12 staff from the editorial, marketing, sales, and publicity teams to this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair last month. A veritable grand dame of book fairs, Frankfurt lasts over a period of 5 days and this year received 227,000 visitors from the public and trade alike.

Frankfurt Book Fair

Jenny Redhead, Kim Williams, and Caroline Priday from PUP’s European office

Three plucky, courageous, some might say superhuman (I’ll stop there) colleagues from the International Rights team made the annual pilgrimage to the Buchmesse to share our latest and forthcoming titles with publishers and agents from around the world. The team presented forthcoming books from our Spring 2017 list in our beautifully designed rights guide by Heather Hansen from PUP’s design team.

IMG_0311

We exhausted our ability to speak while talking about our fabulous forthcoming books, so here is a Frankfurt by numbers for those of you who haven’t experienced the magic for yourselves:

  • 4 days of meetings
  • 90 appointments
  • 150 business cards
  • Publishers from 22 countries
  • 14: the highest number of people who turned up for one 30-minute meeting
  • 150 freshly printed rights guides
  • 30 new titles
  • 86 PUP books discussed
  • Umpteen coffees
  • 712: the number of pages in the longest book in the rights guide
  • 4: the number of cocktail parties we missed because we were in back to back appointments
  • 6: the number of copies of Welcome to the Universe that were stolen from the stand on the first day
  • Ten compliments on our fabulous cover designs
  • Three: the number of cheek kisses one is expected to offer to publishers in Europe, except in the UK where a firm handshake is quite friendly enough, thank you
  • One: the number of PUP rights professionals who got lost in the agent’s centre on the way to a meeting
  • 0: the number of times part of the stand fell on someone’s head (take that, Frankfurt 2014)
  • And 1 GLORIOUS lunch hour

What are your favourite book fair moments? We’d love to hear from you!

IMG_0309

–Kimberly Williams, International Rights Director

Peter Dougherty & Al Bertrand: On Being Einstein’s Publisher

by Peter Dougherty and Al Bertrand

So many people today—and even professional scientists—seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. (Albert Einstein to Robert A Thornton, 7 December 1944, EA 61-574)

For all of the scholarly influences that have defined Princeton University Press over its 111-year history, no single personality has shaped the Press’s identity as powerfully, both directly and indirectly, as Albert Einstein. The 2015 centenary of the publication of Einstein’s “Theory of General Relativity” as well as the affirmation this past February and again in June of the discovery of gravitational waves has encouraged us to reflect on this legacy and how it has informed our identity as a publisher.

The bright light cast by Einstein the scientist and by Einstein the humanist has shaped Princeton University Press in profound and far-reaching ways. It expresses itself in the Press’s standard of scholarly excellence, its emphasis on the breadth and connectedness of liberal learning across all fields, and in our mission of framing scholarly arguments to shape contemporary knowledge. All the while, Einstein’s role as a citizen of the world inspires our vision to be a truly global university press.

PUBLISHING EINSTEIN: A BRIEF HISTORY

Albert Einstein is not only Princeton University Press’s most illustrious author; he was our first best-selling author. Following his public lectures in Princeton in 1921, the Press—itself less than 20 years old at the time—published the text of those lectures, titled “The Meaning of Relativity”, in 1922. Publication followed the agitated exhortation of the Press’s then-manager, Frank Tomlinson, urging Professor Einstein to get his manuscript finished. Tomlinson wrote:

My dear Professor Einstein—

On July 6 I wrote you inquiring when we might expect to receive the manuscript of your lectures. I have had no reply to this letter. A number of people have been inquiring when the book will be ready, and we are considerably alarmed at the long delay in the receipt of your manuscript, which we were led to believe would be in our hands within a month after the lectures were delivered. The importance of the book will undoubtedly be seriously affected unless we are able to publish it within a reasonable time and I strongly urge upon you the necessity of sending us the copy at your earliest convenience. I should appreciate also the favor of a reply from you stating when we may expect to receive it.

the meaning of relativity jacketMr. Tomlinson’s letter marks something of a high point in the history of publishers’ anxiety, but far from failing, The Meaning of Relativity was a hit. It would go on to numerous successive editions, and remains very much alive today as both a print and digital book, as well as in numerous translated editions.

For all its glorious publishing history, The Meaning of Relativity can be thought of as a mere appetizer to the bounteous publishing banquet embodied in THE COLLECTED PAPERS OF ALBERT EINSTEIN, surely PUP’s most ambitious continuing publication and one of the most important editorial projects in all of scholarly publishing.

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein

Authorized by the Einstein Estate and the PUP Board of Trustees in 1970, and supported by a generous grant from the late Harold W. McGraw, Jr., chairman of the McGraw-Hill Book Company, THE EINSTEIN PAPERS, as it evolves, is providing the first complete and authoritative account of a written legacy that ranges from Einstein’s work on the special and general theories of relativity and the origins of quantum theory, to expressions of his profound concern with civil liberties, education, Zionism, pacifism, and disarmament.

einstein old letterAn old saying has it that “good things come to those to wait,” words that ring resoundingly true regarding the EINSTEIN PAPERS. Having survived multiple obstacles in the long journey from its inception through the publication of its first volume in 1987, the Einstein Papers Project hit its stride in 2000 when Princeton University Press engaged Professor Diana Buchwald as its sixth editor, and moved the Project to Pasadena with the generous support of its new host institution, the California Institute of Technology.

Since then, Professor Buchwald and her Caltech-based editorial team, along with their international network of scholarly editors, have produced successive documentary and English translation volumes at the rate of one every eighteen months. To give you an idea of just how impressive a pace this is, the Galileo papers are still a work in progress, nearly four centuries after his death.

The EINSTEIN PAPERS, having reached and documented Einstein’s writings up to 1925, has fundamentally altered our understanding of the history of physics and of the development of general relativity, for example by destroying the myth of Einstein as a lone genius and revealing the extent to which this man, with his great gift for friendship and collegiality, was embedded in a network of extraordinary scientists in Zurich, Prague, and Berlin.

Along with the EINSTEIN PAPERS, the Press has grown a lively publishing program of books drawn from his work and about Einstein. Satellite projects include The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, as well as volumes on Einstein’s politics, his love letters, and the “miraculous year” of 1905.

Last year the Press published two new books drawn from Einstein’s writings, The Road to Relativity, and the 100th anniversary edition of Relativity: The Special and General Theory, both volumes edited by Jürgen Renn of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and Hanoch Gutfreund of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.   These volumes celebrate the centenary of Einstein’s publication of the theory of general relativity in November 1915.

In this same centenary year, PUP published several other Einstein titles, including:

— Volume 14 of the Collected Papers, The Berlin Years, 1923-1925.

An Einstein Encyclopedia, edited by Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, and Robert Schulman;

Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity, by Andrew Robinson

Especially notable, in January 2015 the Press released THE DIGITAL EDITION OF THE COLLECTED PAPERS OF ALBERT EINSTEIN, a publishing event that has attracted extraordinary worldwide attention, scientific as well as public. This online edition is freely available to readers and researchers around the world, and represents the historic collaboration between the Press and its partners, the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech and the Albert Einstein Archive in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Moreover, works by and about Einstein sit at the crossroads of two major components of the Princeton list: our science publishing program which comprises a host of fields from physics through mathematics, biology, earth science, computer science, and natural history, and our history of science program which connects PUP’s Einstein output to our humanities publishing, helping to bridge the intellectual gap between two major dimensions of our list.

Einstein’s dual legacy at Princeton University Press thus serves to bookend the conversation defined by the Press’s unusually wide-ranging array of works across and throughout the arts and sciences, from mathematics to poetry. C.P. Snow famously described the sciences and the humanities as “two cultures.” Einstein’s legacy informs our effort as a publisher to create an ongoing correspondence between those two cultures in the form of books, which uniquely serve to synthesize, connect, and nurture cross-disciplinary discourse.

EINSTEIN’S LARGER PUBLISHING INFLUENCE

Much as the living legacy of the EINSTEIN PAPERS and its related publications means to Princeton University Press as a publisher, it holds a broader meaning for us both as editors and as leaders of the institution with which we’ve long been affiliated.

Like most of our colleagues, we arrived at the Press as editors previously employed by other publishers, and having little professional interest in physics. Each of us specialized in different editorial fields, economics and classics, respectively.

Our initial disposition towards the field of physics, while full of awe, was perhaps best summed up by Woody Allen when he said: “I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”  

But we soon discovered, as newcomers to PUP inevitably do, that the Princeton publishing legacy of Albert Einstein carried with it a set of implications beyond his specific scientific bounty that would help to shape our publishing activity, as well as that of our colleagues. We see the Einstein legacy operating in three distinct ways on PUP’s culture:

First, it reinforces the centrality of excellence as a standard: simply put, we strive to publish the core scholarly books by leading authors, senior as well as first-time. Einstein’s legacy stands as a giant-sized symbol of excellence, an invisible but constant reminder that our challenge as publishers at Princeton is not merely to be good, but to be great. As we seek greatness by publishing those books that help to define and unite the frontiers of modern scholarship, and connect our authors’ ideas with minds everywhere, we are upholding a standard embodied in the work of Albert Einstein.

The second implication of the bounty Albert Einstein is a commitment to seeing liberal knowledge defined broadly, encompassing its scientific articulation as well as its expression in the humanities and social sciences. PUP purposefully publishes an unusually wide portfolio of subject areas, encompassing not only standard university press fields such as literary criticism, art history, politics, sociology, and philosophy, but a full complement of technical fields, including biology, physics, neuroscience, mathematics, economics, and computer science. A rival publisher once half-jokingly described PUP as “the empirical knowledge capital of the world.” She was referring to our capacious cultivation of scientific and humanistic publishing, an ambitious menu for a publisher producing only around 250 books a year, but one we think gives the Press its distinctive identity.

It is no coincidence that Albert Einstein, PUP’s most celebrated author, cast his influence across many of these fields both as a scientist and as a humanist, engaged fully in the life of the mind and of the world. His legacy thus inspires us to concentrate our editorial energies on building a list that focuses on knowledge in its broadest and deepest sense—that puts into play the sometimes contentious, and even seemingly incongruous, methodologies of science and the humanities and articulates a broad yet rigorous, intellectual vision, elevating knowledge for its own sake, even as the issues change from decade to decade.

A third implication appears in Einstein’s challenge to us to be a great global publisher. Einstein, a self-professed “citizen of the world” was in many ways the first global citizen, a scholar whose scientific achievement and fame played out on a truly global scale in an age of parochial and often violent nationalist thinking.

Einstein’s cosmopolitanism has inspired the Press to pursue a path of becoming a truly global university Press. To do this, PUP has built lists in fields that are cosmopolitan in their readership, opened offices in Europe and China, expanded its author and reviewer base all over the world, and has licensed its content for translation in many languages. As we go forward, we intend to continue to build a network that allows us to connect many local publishing and academic cultures with the global scholarly conversation. This vision of the Press’s future echoes Einstein’s call for a science that transcends national boundaries.

THE FUTURE

It has been nearly a century since publication of The Meaning of Relativity and half that since the original agreement for the EINSTEIN PAPERS was authorized. We can only imagine that the originators of the latter project would be proud of what our collective effort has produced, grateful to the principals for the job they have done in bringing the PAPERS to their current status, and maybe above all, awed by the global exposure the PAPERS have achieved in their print and now digital formats.

As we continue our work with our colleagues at Caltech and the Hebrew University to extend the EINSTEIN PAPERS into the future, we are reminded of the significance of the great scientist’s legacy, especially as it bears on our identity as a global publisher, framing the pursuit of knowledge imaginatively across the arts and sciences.

The eminent Italian publisher Roberto Calasso, in his recent book, The Art of the Publisher, encourages readers to imagine a publishing house as,

“a single text formed not just by the totality of books that have been published there, but also by its other constituent elements, such as the front covers, cover flaps, publicity, the quantity of copies printed and sold, or the different editions in which the same text has been presented. Imagine a publishing house in this way and you will find yourself immersed in a very strange landscape, something that you might regard as a literary work in itself, belonging to a genre all its own.”

Now, at a time when the very definition of publishing is being undermined by technological and economic forces, it is striking to see each publisher as a “literary work unto itself.” So it is with Princeton University Press. In so far as PUP can claim a list having a diversified but well-integrated publishing vision, one that constantly strives for excellence and that stresses the forest for the trees, it is inescapably about the spirit and substance reflected in the legacy of Albert Einstein, and it is inseparable from it.

Einstein_blog (small)

 


 

Peter J. Dougherty is Director of Princeton University Press. This essay is based in part on comments he delivered at the Space-Time Theories conference at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January, 2015. Al Bertrand is Associate Publishing Director of Princeton University Press and Executive Editor of the Press’s history of science publishing program, including Einstein-related publications.