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.

 

Princeton University Press and Cornell Lab of Ornithology to Partner

Princeton University Press is proud to announce a new publishing partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds.

Starting with the Autumn 2019 season, Princeton University Press and the Cornell Lab will publish diverse books and other products uniquely designed for everyone from experienced and amateur birders to the environmentally conscious and generally “bird curious.” The partnership will officially launch with the release of two interactive, regional bird-a-day 2020 calendars, and a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated birder’s life list and journal. Cornell Lab of Ornithology books for children will continue to be published by the Cornell Lab Publishing Group, an imprint of WunderMill children’s books.

“We are delighted to be working with Cornell Lab,” says Robert Kirk, Princeton University Press Executive Editor and Publisher of Field Guides and Natural History. “The Lab leads the world in bird-related citizen-science initiatives and is home to an impressive array of experts in many fields. We look forward to harnessing the individual and collective knowledge within the Lab to create innovative books and products that will appeal to birders everywhere.”

John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says, “The Lab is looking forward to this new publishing partnership to engage ever-growing audiences in learning about and protecting birds and nature.”

90 Years Ago Today: Einstein’s 50th Birthday

This post is made available by the Einstein Papers Project

Einstein’s fiftieth birthday appears to have been more of a cause for celebration by others than for himself. Having lived under intense scrutiny from the (mostly) adoring public and intrusive journalists for 10 years already, Einstein made valiant efforts to avoid attention from the press on this momentous occasion. He was particularly keen to avoid the hullabaloo ratcheting up for his fiftieth in Berlin. The day before his birthday, a New York Times article, Einstein Flees Berlin to Avoid Being Feted reported that: “To evade all ceremonies and celebrations, he suddenly departed from Berlin last night and left no address. Even his most intimate friends will not know his whereabouts.”

Einstein’s decision allowed him and his family relative respite. While Einstein hid in a countryside retreat, “[t]elegraph messengers, postmen and delivery boys had to wait in line hours today in front of the house No. 5 Haberland Strasse, delivering congratulations and gifts to Albert Einstein on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday today,” according to the March 15 issue of the Jewish Daily Bulletin. Above is one card of the many that Einstein received on and around his birthday; it was made by a pupil at the Jüdische Knabenschule, Hermann Küchler.

After all, an intrepid reporter did find Einstein – in a leafy neighborhood of Berlin called Gatow, half an hour from the city center. A report for avid fans, Einstein Found Hiding on his Birthday, in the March 15 edition of The New York Times provides a gamut of details from the color of his sweater to the menu for his birthday dinner and the array of gifts found on a side table. Happy reading, on this, the 140th anniversary of Einstein’s birth!

03-07-19

Einstein’s 50th will be covered in Volume 16 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Of the many and various resources we refer to for historical research, the two used for this web post were: The New York Times archive: Times Machine and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Archive. Access to the Times Machine requires a subscription to The New York Times. The card, item number 30-349, is held at the Albert Einstein Archives at HUJI.

PUP Volunteerism Highlight: The Oxford Hot Water Bottle Project

Many of us in the #ReadUP world are inspired by the university press mission to contribute to society in the form of knowledge and ideas. But the ethos is not bound to the pages of a book; many of our staff and peers are also invested in community development and engagement. To support these commitments, and encourage community building within and far beyond our publishing house, we have formed a Community Building Committee, which includes as one of its pillars a volunteer committee. Over the last year, PUP staff have convened colleagues across departments and the globe to help serve meals at community kitchens, collect donations for many local organizations, rebuild trails in local preserves, send books to incarcerated readers, rebuild a library collection destroyed by fire in Rio, and as this blog post by senior publicist Katie Lewis shares, reached out to the homeless population in Oxford. The enthusiasms we bring to all of our collaborations, from books to community building events, enliven every chapter of our collective publishing narrative.

–Christie Henry, Director

Oxford is one of the UK’s most affluent cities, and the least affordable.

Oxford, the closest city to Princeton University Press’s European office, is a beautiful, historic centre of academia, culture, architecture and history. One cannot help marvelling at its beauty and noticing the affluence of the university colleges, which make up a large part of the town centre. But there is another side to Oxford that is just as visible, even if it does not make it into the guide books.  

Homelessness is a global problem, but it is particularly acute in Oxford. According to Homeless Oxfordshire, a charity that provides shelter, safety, hot meals and basic facilities for about 550 homeless people in the city and surrounding areas, the number of rough sleepers in Oxford has increased by 175% since 2012. There has also been a spike in deaths among homeless people in Oxford this winter, as reported by The Guardian.

The high numbers of rough sleepers in Oxford may be due the affluence of the city and the fact that many of its inhabitants, students and tourists can spare a little change. Rough sleepers from other parts of the country are known to make their way to Oxford in the hope of receiving more casual financial help (change on the streets) than they might in their home towns.

Oxford is also one of the most economically uneven cities in the UK: an area called Blackbird Leys is one of the most socioeconomically deprived areas in the country, despite being only a couple of miles from the grandeur of the world-class university. The economic situation there may go some way to explaining why Oxford’s homelessness problem is so severe.

Homelessness is also perhaps particularly prevalent in Oxford due to the high cost of housing – Oxford has been widely held as the UK’s least affordable city since at least 2014. According to Homeless Oxfordshire, the average Oxford house price of £491,900 is around 16 times the average yearly household income of £29,400, and the rental market reflects this, with many rented rooms just as expensive as those in London, without the artificially boosted salaries enjoyed in the capital.  

I started handing out hot water bottles to Oxford’s rough sleepers in January 2018 when it occurred to me how horrible it would be to be out in the snow without the cosy hot water bottle that I enjoy on my lap in the Princeton office during the colder months. I started a JustGiving page and with the help of a friend, handed out 50 hot water bottles over the next couple of weeks.

Handing out hot water bottles in the snow.

This year, I was thrilled when Princeton University Press decided to make the “Oxford Hot Water Bottle Project” one of the beneficiaries of its volunteering programme. PUP kindly funded the purchase of 360 hot water bottles, and my colleague Keira Andrews and I have been handing out freshly-filled hot water bottles to chilly Oxford citizens on particularly icy evenings this winter.

Whenever the temperature reaches freezing or below, the council actions its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), meaning that shelters open their doors to anybody, not just those with a link to Oxford. The shelters’ aim during this time is to get as many people out of the cold as possible. However, there are lots of people who, for various reasons, prefer not to go to shelters even in sub-zero temperatures, and those are the people that we aim to help.

Rough sleepers can refill their hot water bottles at The Handle Bar, a wonderful bicycle-themed café on St Michael’s Street in Oxford. As well as serving utterly fantastic food in a lovely environment, they have also gracefully put up with filling dozens of hot water bottles for us so far, and have agreed to refill bottles for anyone who asks. The Handle Bar and its staff are an invaluable resource to us, and we are very grateful.

It is always very moving and humbling to spend a few hours connecting with people on the streets and trying to fathom what it must be like to feel cold for weeks and weeks on end. Hopefully, Princeton University Press’s partnership with The Handle Bar will bring relief and the promise of slightly more comfortable nights out in the cold to growing numbers of people.

–Katie Lewis, Senior Publicist, European Office

 

 

The Rise of the Audiobook

PUP AudioOnce considered a format predominantly for the visually impaired, audiobooks have become increasingly popular in recent years.  According to Publishing Perspectives, “a six-year trend of double-digit growth in audiobook sales continues in the US [and] … audiobook sales [in 2017] totaled more than $2.5 billion”. In the UK, “audiobook sales are continuing to rocket, with a number of the biggest publishers in the space confirming they are still experiencing “strong double-digit growth” year on year” according to The Bookseller.

In addition to being a publicist in PUP’s European office, I am also a passionate consumer of audiobooks. This has let me to wonder: what has wrought this relatively sudden increase in what many had written off as a dying format, gathering dust in the form of bulky CD box sets? Well, put simply; the smartphone. After Apple released the iPhone, it was possible to have a library of fiction and factual knowledge in your pocket.

The audio industry has kept pace with others when it comes to digitizing content, and a vast array of titles can be downloaded when out and about in a matter of seconds. Most audio consumption is now done through apps, either by a subscription model where you get a certain number of credits per month (from companies such as Audible – Amazon’s audio platform and the biggest in the field – and Libro.fm), from public libraries where you can listen for free but may have to wait for a book (such as Hoopla and OverDrive’s Libby) or on an all-you-can-eat monthly subscription model such as Scribd and Hibooks.

Audiobooks are popular for several reasons: many people find it easier to ingest information aurally rather than visually; you can make your way through the complete works of Dickens whilst doing your weekly housework or other chores; audiobooks are great for driving, exercising and other tasks that couldn’t be done whilst reading a book. There is evidence that some people use the companionship of an audiobook to combat loneliness. I personally find that familiar audiobooks can be very comforting when travelling abroad alone, and can even calm my nerves whilst sitting in the dentist’s chair!                          

Under the leadership of our Digital and Audio Publisher, Kimberley Williams, Princeton University Press embarked on a new audiobook program in 2018, releasing our first in-house audiobook, On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by UK Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and narrated by Samuel West in October. This was followed by Michael Rosen’s edited collection of Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain and a handful of other great titles. One of the joys of audio is finding the right narrator for each book, and we had great fun with Workers’ Tales, casting a wonderful group of narrators, including Samuel West, the inimitable Miriam Margolyes, and Michael Rosen himself.

In December 2018, I was thrilled to travel to Bath to the recording studios of PUP’s audio partner, Sound Understanding. I was there to witness Juliet Stevenson, star of stage and screen and one of the UK’s most beloved audiobook narrators, recording her first audiobook for us, Why Nationalism by Yael Tamir. I was interested to find out how audiobooks are recorded, how a narrator prepares for recording, and whether some books lend themselves to audio more so than others.

I visited the studio on the third day of recording, just as Juliet was finishing up her narration and recording some of the retakes, which allowed her the time to speak with me about the recording process. Juliet explained that these days, they record using the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” method, which means that if you “fluff” your words, you simply start again from the beginning of that sentence or paragraph, and the producer will cut the fluffed line out later on. (This explains the many times I have heard repeated sentences in audiobooks over the years – clearly missed by less vigilant producers!)

As for preparation, Juliet admitted that she doesn’t always finish the book before starting to record, but she always reads the section she is recording beforehand, in order to prepare the tone and rhythm as intended by the author. Then, she says, you have to prepare the characters: “In my head I often cast them . . . I might think of an actor, or I might think of . . . the lollipop lady on the street outside my kids’ school, I might think of a school mum . . . and then I cast him or her in my head, and then it’s a very quick jump” from character to character in a big scene.

Juliet’s main advice to an author writing a book with a view to it being recorded as an audiobook was to “Think about the rhythm of the spoken word . . . maybe when you’re writing, occasionally pick a random paragraph or two or three, and read them out loud and see how the rhythms are working when they’re read out loud . . . think musically”. However, she did not feel entitled to give too much direction to authors as she firmly believes that the role of the narrator is “not to get in the way of the writer . . . not [to] impose your own response to the story in between the writer and the listener . . . You’re delivering it up for the listener. The listener and the writer are the two most important people”.

My visit to the Sound Understanding studios showed how much work goes into making an audiobook; from finding the right narrator in the casting process, to the narrator’s careful preparation and casting of voices for characters, to the careful editing after recording, and much more.

Princeton University Press’s audiobook program is off to a strong start, and we have a great list of titles lined up for audio next season. Kimberley intends to grow PUP’s audiobook publishing year on year, through publishing and licensing, with the aim of making at least 65 books available each year in audio. As a passionate audiobook listener, I am excited about this new chapter in PUP’s publishing, and look forward to consuming many more PUP books in this wonderful format.

The full interview with Juliet Stevenson will be available shortly

–Katie Lewis, Senior Publicist, UK

 

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

 

 

 

 

Christie Henry on the Evolution of University Press Science Publishing

In The Atlantic this month, science journalist Ed Yong writes about new studies on the evolution of mammals that convey how much humans have turned up evolutionary dynamics. Since the 16th century, we sapiens have wiped out 500 million years of phylogenetic evolutionary history, and we stand to lose a further 1.8 billion years within the next five decades, breaking twigs, branches, and core trunks of the mammalian evolutionary tree. It’s astonishing, and humbling, to contemplate the scale of impact, but some of the online commentary on the article is just as devastating. One reader stated that humans just do not care; some of our species don’t read about science, others are persuaded by the untruths of redactions of climate science, or denunciations of planetary temperature fluctuations. Is news about scientific discovery heard as much as a felled tree falling in uninhabited woods?

The evolution of science publishing at university presses tells a different narrative. The #ReadUP world knows how to #TurnItUp for science, and many new branches of editorial programs are generating stands of books that range in topic from altruism to zooplankton, from neuroscience to natural history. In a 2018 survey of university press areas of acquisition, 58 presses reported publishing in earth and environmental science, and 53 in the areas of ecology and conservation. The diversity of presses, and the morphology of their science lists, helps build resilience, and niches for a wide range of book types, from graphic science to popular narratives to graduate level course books. The #Readup editors foraging in these landscapes are resilient, and opportunistic, as books in these fields do not grow on trees, and rarely on the cvs of scientists.

This year, #ReadUPscience readers can swim in the pages of Drawn to the Deep to learn about the underwater explorations of Florida’s Wes Skiles, explore the richness of The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas , have a trusted foraging companion in Mushrooms of the Gulf Coast States, savor daily joys of A Year in Nature, chatter over the Tales that Teeth Tell, learn best practices of Communicating Climate Change, and how thinking like a geologist can help save the planet in Timefulness.

While there are a diversity of university presses working to amplify science, the evolution and long-term sustainability of these programs, Princeton University Press’s included, depend on the ability to create equitable and inclusive populations of authors, a particularly acute challenge in science publishing. The American Association of Science dedicated much of its annual meeting in 2018 to diversity and inclusion, but waiting for the waves of change to reach the shores of the UP world is akin to waiting for ocean acidification to naturally rebalance; we need intervention. University presses, like scientists we collaborate with, can be pioneers, innovators, and intrepid explorers, discovering new authors to change the world of science publishing. Just as we have found ways to evolve impactful science programs at presses with origins in the humanities and social sciences, so too can we create niches for a greater equity of authorial expertise and voice in these programs.

I turn to Ed Yong again, who spent two years working to fix the gender imbalance in his stories about science. As he notes, gender parity is just a start. We need to first quantify the problem, and provide data to track change. We are doing this research at PUP now, and while the science list here is amazing in its thematic diversity, we are keen to fix the imbalances of author voices.

Just as ecosystems of great biodiversity are more resilient, so too will presses of greater diversity be sustainable. Every microbe in our publishing guts tells us that if we can present the state of scientific understanding from as wide a perspective as possible, our chances of getting readers to tune in, and turn up their own understanding of science, exponentially amplify.

Check out #TurnItUp science posts from our colleagues at Johns Hopkins University Press, Rutgers University Press, University Press of Colorado, Columbia University Press, University of Toronto Press, and University of Georgia Press.