Wealth of Ideas Conference in honor of Peter Dougherty

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

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

Outgoing director Peter Dougherty and incoming director Christie Henry

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

Peter admires a handmade retirement gift from PUP staff

Peter writes:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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