Princeton University Press Acquires Rights to The Obama Portraits

Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

 

Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

 

Princeton University Press is thrilled to announce plans to publish The Obama Portraits, in association with the National Portrait Gallery, Washington. Michelle Komie, Publisher of Art and Architecture at PUP, acquired world rights to the book, which is slated for publication in February of 2020, two years after the historic unveiling of the paintings President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald.

The Obama Portraits will be the first examination of the inception, evolution, and impact of these remarkable paintings. The book will include a selection of powerful images, including behind-the-scenes photography by Pete Souza, the official photographer for the Obamas; and a transcript of remarks given by the Obamas and others at the historic unveiling. Essays by Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; Portrait Gallery curators Taína Caragol and Dorothy Moss; and art historian Richard Powell will explore themes of power, empathy, democracy, pilgrimage, and race.

According to Sajet, “While the lead-up to the unveiling of the Obama portraits attracted unprecedented media attention, the public’s interest in them has far surpassed our expectations. Our long lines and record attendance numbers certainly hint at the impact they’ve had on audiences, but what we’ve come to call the Obama effect has been deeply profound. The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to be partnering with Princeton University Press on The Obama Portraits and looks forward to expanding the museum’s audience with this important book.”

Komie remarked, “These paintings have resonated like few other artworks in history. We are enormously grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery on a book that is so vibrant, so vital, and which carries such tremendous potential to engage readers within the arts and well beyond.”

The National Portrait Gallery is home to official portraits of every US president and, since the late twentieth century, of First Ladies as well. The museum has worked with Princeton University Press on several recent projects, including catalogues for the exhibitions Black Out and Votes for Women.

About the Authors

Taína Caragol is Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Curator of Latino Art and History at the National Portrait Gallery. She co-organized UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar and The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now.

Dorothy Moss is Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery and Coordinating Curator for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. Her most recent publication, The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers, accompanied a major exhibition at the museum.

Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, where he teaches courses in American art and the arts of the African Diaspora. He is the author of Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture, Black Art: A Cultural History, and countless other publications.

Kim Sajet is the first woman to serve as the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Born in Nigeria, raised in Australia, and a citizen of the Netherlands, she brings a global perspective to the position. Prior to her appointment at the Portrait Gallery in 2013, Sajet (pronounced Say-et) was President and CEO of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

 

About Princeton University Press

Founded in 1905, Princeton University Press is a leading independent publisher of trade and scholarly books. With close ties to Princeton University and with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, PUP strives to foster dialogues that engage the world.

 

About the National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts, and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives tell the American story.

 

 

 

Katie Hope to Join Princeton University Press as Marketing Director

Princeton University Press is thrilled to announce that Katie Hope will join the Press as Marketing Director, leading PUP’s global marketing and sales teams in Princeton and Oxford, while working closely with the Press’s Beijing office. Hope brings to PUP twenty-five years of industry experience, most recently as Director of Marketing and Author Relations at the MIT Press, overseeing MIT’s global marketing team and leading marketing and business development strategies for trade, textbook, and professional titles, as well as journals and digital content.

According to Princeton University Press Director Christie Henry, “The alchemy of Katie’s experience, the caliber of the Press’s team, and the intellectual property our authors around the world entrust to us to market and sell is inspiring to contemplate. We admire and have learned from the impact of her creative leadership at MIT Press, within the AUPresses community, and far beyond, and are eagerly anticipating the collaborations ahead and the many ways in which Katie will help us to write our next PUP chapter. I thank our colleagues at Storbeck Pimentel and the many at PUP who have helped us realize this moment.”

During Hope’s decade at the MIT Press, she led the creation and implementation of a Marketing Department strategic plan, an overhaul of MIT’s digital capabilities, driving analytics-led sales and marketing and overseeing a website redesign, brand refresh, and consistently strong growth across social media platforms. Before joining the MIT Press, Hope, who got her start as a sales rep and later marketing manager for McGraw-Hill Education, worked in senior leadership positions across trade and scholarly publishing, including as Vice President, Director of Marketing for Adult Trade & Reference and Vice President, Director of Marketing for the Higher Education Division at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Hope comments, “I am truly honored to join PUP, an organization I have admired for so long and one that possesses such an exceptional marketing and sales team. I am profoundly excited to be a part of this dynamic university press especially at this pivotal moment in the world of global publishing. I see immense opportunities to expand the reach of PUP’s superior editorial content and groundbreaking marketing initiatives.”

Hope will start at PUP in June, reporting to Henry as a member of the Press’s senior leadership.

 

About Princeton University Press

Princeton University Press is a leading publisher of trade and scholarly titles and textbooks across a wide variety of disciplines. With offices in United States, the United Kingdom, and China, and with sales distribution across five continents, Princeton University Press strives to foster dialogues that engage the world.

 

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.

 

Christie Henry on Shaping History–Through Books

The founder of the antecedent of Black History Month, Carter Woodson, astutely noted that “the mere imparting of information is not education.”  Adapting these profound words to the realm of publishing, publishers recognize that the mere imparting of information is not publishing.  In an era of an abundance of information, of words on the print and digital page, it is ever more vital for us to curate, with intention, a list of publications that educates and inspires.  As a University Press publisher, the education we commit to for our readers (and audio book listeners) is a publishing grounded in information that is transformed—through author intelligence and curiosity, the insights of peer review, and the art and science of book making, publicity and marketing, and sales—and, ideally, transformative in its impact and endurance. 

The books we are celebrating this month embody that transformative impact, and in doing so also contribute in meaningful and enduring ways to one of the key tenets of Black History month, to teach the history of Black America.  As books remain a vital component of teaching, and learning, this month is a critical time for publishers to reflect on our responsibility as partners in the pedagogical endeavor, and the narrative we shape with the books we publish.  We join our many peers in the university press, #ReadUP community, in a shared commitment to enrich knowledge about race, identity, society, history, politics and the arts—inspired by our authors and the university communities in which we thrive.

In December, NYU University Press author Safiya Umoja Noble visited Princeton University Press to talk about our role in offering a platform to as wide a population of scholarship as there are voices and minds, particularly in our responsibility as an interlocutor between the academy and the wider culture of reading and knowledge.  Peer review is the foundational element of this university press platform, and it shapes each of the books we publish, as does the editorial board that governs our peer review. 

We also commit to the tenets of peer review in assessing our own decisions as publishers.  Just as most authors take great pride (rightfully!) in the manuscripts they submit for peer review, so too are we incredibly proud of the list of nearly 10,000 titles Princeton University Press has published.  But we also know how critical it is to iterate, in the way every manuscript does, guided by a close and constructive scrutiny of that publications list.   When assessed against current cultural contexts and priorities, in the way that a manuscript’s references are held accountable to current scholarship, we recognize that we can grow from criticism, and benefit from revision, to bring more voices and perspectives to our list, and to broaden its intellectual impact and horizons.  I find myself incredibly inspired by another #ReadUP author, Hanif Abdurraqib, whose Go Ahead in the Rain is publishing this month at the University of Texas Press, “A big reason I write is rooted in the idea of building relationships”: the big reason we publish is rooted in the idea (and joy) of building relationships.

As we peer review our publications program, and celebrate in particular the ways in books about the African American experience have shaped that program, we are guided by Woodson’s enduring mantra that we need “a history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”  Our press is committed to books that shape that history, and inspire and educate through scholarship, creativity and collaboration.

–Christie Henry, Director

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.

Christie Henry: Notes on a New Ecosystem, One Year Out

For just over a year now, I have had the inordinate fondness and pleasure of serving as Director of Princeton University Press. I have been fortunate to have generous companions and collaborators in this new ecosystem, from members of our Board and the Princeton University Press Association, to colleagues across the globe—these in addition to several outstanding field guides. Among the species and experiences I have brought with me from years of happy trails in the #ReadUP lands include a few (inanimate) octopuses, which now reside at our William Street building in Princeton, and can be seen propping up the latest Press catalog, now Spring 2019.

These octopuses have kept me company for many a year in publishing. And if there is an animal I most admire, with no offense to Princeton tigers, or the many birds of the Press’s resplendent natural history list, it is the octopus. I have envied their eight arms, (especially so in #makingmotherhoodwork). I am not alone in my enthrall for the octopus. In November another article of wonderment appeared in the New York Times, by Press author Carl Zimmer. He reminds us that  octopuses have nine brains, eight arms, three hearts, and a plan.  

And so do we at Princeton University Press.  Several excellent books of recent have revealed a great deal about octopus behavior and intelligence—and soul.  None of the books are published by Princeton University Press, but Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds was assigned in a course at Princeton in the fall, and Peter is a Press author. 

The octopus to me embodies our Press character—many hearts, big brains, publishing soul, and intelligent arms with an abundance of senses. The arms of an octopus function in stunning choreography, and are full of sensory nodes. Our Press team has been deploying all arms, heart, and brainpower in collaborations this year, and adapting as the octopus does to dynamic waters of publishing. The octopodean arms of the Press are in collaborative embrace around myriad new initiatives, and partnerships.  

Our Creative Media Lab, formed a year ago to cohere the strength of the Press’s brand and design aesthetic, collaborated with our Information Technology team and a cross departmental committee on a stunning new website which will launch in March, presenting a new face of the Press.  This partnership with design firm Area 17 has transformed us from the likeness of an octopus camouflaged in a sea of  grey and black—and a lot of type—to one inspired by a medium of white sand with orange pearls and many more diverse shells. The website includes a reimagination of our blog into “ideas”, curated to include new partnerships, such as those just launched with Public Books and The Conversation.  Our arms of Human Resources and Finance and Accounting have helped us embrace, and compensate, wonderful new colleagues this year, increasing Press inclusivity. And they have also paired their arms to ensure strength and functionality of a new payroll and HR system, Paycom, which went live this fall.  

Just as octopuses inhabit all of the worlds oceans, so too are we stretching the habitats of our books, with new partnerships emerging from our team in Beijing, China, and with other  new initiatives in international sales, including a collaboration with Penguin Random House in India.  We are currently exploring new seas of collaboration and markets in Australia and Central and South America. These initiatives all involve global development, production, sales, marketing, and an evolving intellectual property team. 

When tested in the Lab, octopuses have been shown to be good puzzlers, though, I quote Godfrey-Smith,  “without showing themselves to be Einsteins”. Well, we have the Einstein’s. Further quoting,
“But they have a great ability to adapt to new an unusual circumstances, and turn the apparatus around to their own octopodean purposes. “
This might describe our adventure with a new publishing information system, Biblio, which has touched all of our senses, and has had its moments of the unusual as we learn new publishing systems and determine how best to deploy technology in support of our publishing endeavors. 

Some recent studies have shown that octopuses can hear. Humans respond even more favorably to audio signals, so much so that it’s possible to imagine our next evolutionary leap including built-in earbuds. This summer we launched our own audio imprint, PUP Audio, which is amplifying our list and bringing new book admirers and narrators into our reach. I encourage you all to sample our first titles on Audible or Hoopla or Storytel. Our pairing of narrators and topics was referred to as “brilliant matchmaking” in the Times Literary Supplement.  Like many other new Press initiatives, audio entails the full collaborative embrace of multiple minds- intellectual property, digital and audio publishing, creative media, distribution, marketing, and sales. 

Furthering the senses, Octopuses have exceptionally good eyes—as do our editors, for great authors, who in turn inspire some of the finest armed and brained collaborations, with our Editorial Board and across our outstanding publishing departments. We have welcomed new editors this year, and promoted several others.  As the end of 2018 deftly curated lists of best books came online, we enjoyed the synergies among our authors, books, editors, and the strength of our publicity brain. Among recent highlights,  Timefulness, published this fall, has been long listed for the PEN/Wilson award; it’s a poignant reminder of the temporal scales of evolutionary change. 

YouTube is host to a sea of videos of octopuses escaping tanks, some of which have garnered over 14 million views.  We have just uploaded a few new amazing videos of our own, born out of an experiment to escape traditional confines of marketing. I highly encourage you to watch (and like, and share) videos about Jane Austen’s Beautifull Cassandra, our author David Hu touring his kids through animal biomechanics at the Atlanta Zoo, and an original illustrated explainer video about Gods and Robots, a wonderful tour of the early classical origins of AI. 

In 2017, off the eastern coast of Australia, scientists found an octopus colony, which they are calling Octlantis. Godfrey-Smith writes about Octopolis, which is also off of Australia. Octopuses know the value of community, as do we. And we thrive in a particularly fortunate one in Princeton University. In addition to all that we learn from the minds and souls of our Princeton Board members, this year we have enjoyed having our title Speak Freely selected as a campus pre-read, we have welcomed our first University Administrative Fellows form the graduate school, we enjoyed the first special sale of Press titles at Labyrinth books in November. We partnered with the Brazil Lab, the Library, and the anthropology department to rebuild the collections of the National Museum of Rio. 

Within the publishing community, in addition to the incredible guidance we enjoy from our Board and Association members, we are partnering with Bookselling Without Borders, to build new partnerships between publishers and booksellers, in global seas. With AUPresses, we have hosted two visiting fellows, we embraced a chance to participate in University Press week with staff blogs and photos, and we are leading this year’s Task Force on Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect.  This aligns with our own Board supported Press strategic investment in equity and inclusion, which occupies many hearts and arms. 

Octopuses in Octatlantis have observed in play behavior, interacting with objects just for the sake of it. We too have been enjoying more play, all as part of learning, from film screenings and author talks in our William Street Lobby, now named Dougherty Hall, to group travel to exhibit openings at the Smithsonian, to volunteer outings like a recent repair of bridges and trails with Friends of Princeton Open Spaces in Mountain Lakes Reserve. 

Among the most enviable attributes of an octopus is an ability to regenerate a limb. It has also been shown that limbs that are removed continue to operate with great energy, because of the extent of sensory nodes. While we have lost a few limbs to retirements, and with them many nodes of knowledge, history, and collaboration, we are embracing new colleagues and collaborations, with authors, advisors, Board members, media, partners, and readers and listeners the world over.  

The many tentacles and senses involved in collaboration at Princeton University Press, coupled with multiple hearts and brains, really give us soul. And we thank you for being in our embrace.  The cephalopods that joined me in relocating from Chicago to Princeton are proud to be holding up the Princeton University Press catalog, and to be living within sensory range of salt water. As am I. 

 -Christie Henry, January 2019

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.

PUP Seminary Co-op Notables for 2018

We’re thrilled and honored to see so many Princeton University Press titles featured as notables for 2018. Thanks to our friends at the Seminary Co-op!

 

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

 

 

 

 

Emma Morgan on the London Book Fair 2018

by PUP International Rights Assistant Emma Morgan

LBF2018 was my first year attending the three-day London Book Fair on the Princeton University Press team, and it was also our biggest book fair yet, with 19 members of staff in attendance. Our team at the fair this year included staff from all three of our offices—in Princeton, Woodstock, and Beijing. We were excited to have the opportunity to meet with partners from around the world.

If you attended the book fair, you likely walked past our stand; we were located this year directly in front of a main entrance in the good company of publishers such as Taylor & Francis and Wiley. We hope that you visited the stand to say hello, though with our Rights team heavily booked-up with meetings across the three days of the fair, there was little time to stop!

The book fair represented an opportunity to meet with our key partners, sub-agents, and publishers who regularly license and translate our titles, but also gave us the chance to meet with new potential partners. We held around 85 meetings over the three days, and built on the relationships which are so important to us throughout the year. New partnerships included markets such as Turkey, Russia, and Spain. For me personally, it was also my first opportunity to meet with several members of the Princeton team from the US.

Our Rights Guide was carefully curated for the book fair to highlight some titles which we felt were well-suited to translation, although we still regularly see publishers attend having found titles we never expected in our seasonal catalogues. Some of the titles we saw considerable interest for at the book fair included Sir Martin Rees’s On the Future and Edward B. Burger’s Making Up Your Own Mind. Many publishers were intrigued by the prospect of the mirror-image and upside-down chapters in the latter, and to hear of another strong list of science titles from Princeton.

While there is usually lots of news from the London Book Fair about big deals signed and rights sold, we typically see the majority of our deals done in the weeks and months after the fair. It’s always interesting to see how some markets will decide within a few days that they want a book, and others take until the next book fair, or even longer, to decide. Several of our partners commented on the range of titles we had to show on the stand, and there were lots of compliments for the covers, in particular Anthony Zee’s On Gravity, Jerry Z. Muller’s The Tyranny of Metrics and Vladimir Nabokov’s Insomniac Dreams.

Away from the PUP stand, there were seminars and talks on a variety of subjects, as well LBFas the opportunity to be photographed at the U.S. President’s desk as part of the promotion for the Bill Clinton and James Patterson title, The President is Missing. The Book Fair selected for the Market Focus the publishing industries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and we were interested to gather some information on these markets.

The Book Fairs represent an opportunity to hear from our agents and publishing partners about their markets, both the positive and the negative. While many territories continue to struggle with financial and political issues, there is also broadly cause for optimism, with reports in the UK that the sale of print books is up for the second year in a row. Also, we were interested to gather information from our partners on the rise in audio books, which have seen great increases in the UK and which the International Rights team have been working on since June last year.

After attending the Book Fair in 2017 as a student, I had some idea of what was involved, but being able to sit in on meetings with past and future partners of PUP from around the world emphasised the international recognition of our scholarship and its value. The range of titles which publishers were interested in, both in our upcoming titles and far back in our catalogues, is something I see every day in answering queries from publishers and agents, but the enthusiasm and the value that is placed on our scholarship by publishers from around the world was something I was very glad to see first-hand.

Christie Henry talks with Hanna Gray for International Women’s Day

This post is a transcribed excerpt from a forthcoming Open Stacks podcast interview.

I couldn’t be more fortunate to be in the company of Hanna Gray, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago and Jeff Deutsch, director of the seminary co-op. As a proud member of the University of Chicago diaspora, I am in awe and admiration of these two individuals, whose integrity and erudition animate the scholarly culture. We meet on the occasion of the imminent publication of Professor Gray’s memoir, An Academic Life. Professor Gray and I overlapped briefly in 1993 as inhabitants of the 5801 Ellis Avenue Building, now Levi Hall. At the time, the University of Chicago Press occupied two floors of the building, and the University Administration was on the fifth floor. Two months after I joined the Press, Professor Gray stepped away from the presidency. But the resonance of her leadership endured for the entire 25 years I was on campus. She was the first European born and woman to lead the University of Chicago. As our paths intersect again, I now have the privilege of being the first woman to Direct Princeton University Press, and in that capacity, also to be the publisher of Professor Gray’s forthcoming memoir. I have savored reading the pages of this work and learning more about the fortitude and intelligence she used to shape experiences for so many of us at USC and throughout the world.

GrayChristie: We could use hours of conversation given that so many themes of our discussion—particularly the investment in thought and the benefits gained from communal thinking—are resonating beautifully. I wanted to ask you about on the privilege and responsibilities of being first. You were the first European born president of the University of Chicago as well as the first female provost at Yale and first female president at Chicago. You talk about these opportunities that you have had as you being in the right place at the right time. And I think that that’s often the way I have described my own narrative, as I too have been lucky to be in the right place at the right time. But if one of the responsibilities we carry is to try to create that right place and right time for others to enjoy these opportunities—and especially now as we’re thinking about how to intentionally diversify the demographics of publishing and of the university—what were some of your experiences of creating those right places and right times? Consider this my plea for advice as to how to be intentional and less serendipitous in creating opportunities for others.

Hanna: I’m the first European born president of the University of Chicago but we haven’t had a lot of presidents. So it’s not the biggest deal right? [laughs] I think my work at Yale was more complicated because it was a very early stage in the coeducation of Yale. Women wanted to be seen so much as integral parts of the university, but there were not a lot of women—to put it mildly—on the faculty.

The women surrounding the university wanted things to happen very quickly. And obviously my role was to be concerned for the whole university not only for those who were women.

And at the same time, I felt that I could understand the situation of women much more than my male colleagues had over the years, and obviously a lot needed to be done at Yale. And so there was always this tension between my knowing that and working to address it. And the sense on the part of many women was that not enough was being done because they hoped for almost overnight change, which is of course impossible. I mean, you know how appointments are made in institutions and obviously as provost or President, as I was briefly, you can only do so much. It’s not you who make the appointments. You could encourage appointments you can allocate appointments, but you shouldn’t have quota systems. Rather you have to wait until those opportunities come up and you have to prioritize and so on and so forth. It was very difficult for women who saw themselves as competent. Why was there not for them a position in the history of art, as an art historian so well-trained and so ready to be a member of a good department? But there were no places. There were no positions in that area. Those kinds of issues were there all the time. And so the question of pace was a very big question and I think I made a difference.

We made a slow difference, but that slow difference obviously was not satisfying to those who didn’t benefit from it. And that is an issue that one confronts as one hopes to make a difference. Institutions that move slowly move slowly in part because that’s their way. They don’t know how to run. But that moves slowly also because process is so important and people need to feel things have been done fairly and appropriately and according to policies and rules that everybody understands and has one hopes been a part of shaping. Now when I came back to the University of Chicago, the situation was very different.

Chicago, of course, has always been a coeducational institution that had women on the faculty from day one. But the extraordinary thing about the University of Chicago, which speaks to the larger history of women in higher education in America, was that the percentage of women on the faculty when I became president was no larger than it had been on the opening day of the university. That was an extraordinary fact and it was something I had seen in my own earlier time at the university where I was, I think, one of the first women to be appointed to her husband’s department.

There were some obstructions to women’s progress within the university. There were some women on the faculty, of course, but none of them were in the sciences except for medicine. But even there, there weren’t so many. And I think I was one of—I forget, how many—five, in the social sciences altogether. And then, one of only two tenured female faculty at some point. We did make steady progress because the institution had made, I think, an institutional determination that these figures were ridiculous and they did not represent “our” institution, which prides itself on going against the tide. Chicago recognizes merit where merit is due, and it should certainly be doing just that. It wasn’t always smooth progress and it certainly did not involve quotas of any kind, but we steadily did increase the number of women. And I think that having a woman president was a help in that respect. And I think once again, my responsibility was for the whole institution and for being sure that the appropriate appointments were made and other policies were followed. There was clearly some weight to the kind of encouragement. And you know, just the fact of being a woman made a difference.

Check this space later this month to listen to the complete interview on Open Stacks.

 

Season’s Greetings from PUP’s European office

See amid the winter snow the welcoming lights of the Foundling Museum in London where the European office held our annual holiday party. This was the fourth year that we have hosted this celebration and we are thrilled to see that it has become a significant date in many people’s calendars. We were delighted that our Director, Christie Henry, was able to join us this year and to welcome our guests amongst beautiful works of art from the Foundling Museum’s collection.

PUP’s Director Christie Henry welcoming our guests at the Foundling Museum

It was wonderful too that so many many authors, media contacts, and friends of the Press gathered together in the bleak midwinter and shared glad tidings of comfort and joy –as well as enjoying some delicious canapes and festive drinks.

The party came at the end of a week in which we saw three ships come sailing in with visitors from our China office as well as from our US office. Through the rude wind’s loud lament and the bitter weather (surprisingly heavy snow fell to welcome our colleagues) we had a series of extremely useful meetings, including our annual European Editorial Advisory Board meeting and a presentation from our China office, all of which will help us to work ever more closely together in our mission to be a global Press.

From PUP’s European office we send you all good wishes at the end of 2017 and hope that 2018 is full of joy and good books!

Guests at the holiday party in the beautiful surroundings of the Foundling Museum