University Press Week 2013 Wrap-Up

This November 10-16 marked the second annual University Press Week. While the task force once again worked hard brainstorming event ideas and online resources, members far and wide put extra effort into a variety of events to celebrate university press publishing, broaden their audiences, and engage with their local communities.

A surprising number of presses chose University Press Week to announce major new projects or benchmarks. Both Cornell University Press and University Press of New England received special press attention for their new imprints. Cornell launched its own line of digital shorts, Cornell Selects, focusing on current affairs, labor and workplace issues, and social issues, while New England is readying a new trade imprint, ForeEdge, due to release its first titles in spring 2014. ForeEdge aims to break out of the regional mold that the press is known for, publishing "leading edge" titles on a variety of subjects.

University of Minnesota Press announced a new series called Forerunners, another digital shorts series launching in 2014: "we're looking to advance current conversations in scholarly publishing," wrote Danielle Kasprak on the Minnesota stop of the UP Week Blog Tour.

cua press blessing

University of Massachusetts Press held an afternoon celebration on campus at for their 50th anniversary. The Catholic University of America Press held one of the most idiosyncratic commemorations in honor of its 74th birthday, an event they called "Bless the Press." Director Trevor Lipscombe spotted a saint icon in another campus office, and "I knew I could get an icon of Blessed John Henry Newman [also a published author] by use of the same rhetoric." A priest friend found an oft-overlooked ritual for the "Blessing of Printing Offices" and used it to bless the press and its new icon, "and then we dug in to some celebratory brownies and cookies."

Many presses held events to engage the local community. University of Georgia Press co-hosted a four-day film festival with the special collections library, featuring films related to press titles with Q&A sessions afterward; watch the trailer here. Johns Hopkins University Press and The University of Wisconsin Press each organized a good number of book events. At least four members hosted events purposefully aimed at interested faculty members: "Teaching, Writing, and Getting Published" at The Catholic University of America Press; "Publish Your First Book: Ask the Experts" at Indiana University Press; an indigenous studies author workshop at The University of Arizona Press; and "Making Knowledge Public: Engaged Scholarship" at McGill-Queen's University Press.

Reaching out to the library audience in particular, Ellen Faran (MIT), Leila Salisbury (Mississippi), Peter Berkery (AAUP) and two university librarians chaired a second annual Charleston Conference panel, "University Presses and Academic Libraries Demystified," addressing the behind-the-scenes workings of both university presses and libraries and sparking discussion on how both can best serve the academy.

In a similar vein, the online "Innovation in Scholarly Publishing" event held on the new Shindig virtual-classroom platform pulled in a variety of scholarly communications experts to discuss changing technologies and press practices. Video of the event has since been posted online.

Close to 40 presses participated in this year's blog tour, which took fascinating turns through staff profiles, regional to global publishing, the future of scholarly communication, and more. And more than 70 submitted details on an "innovative" project for the Ideas Unbound gallery, showcasing new platforms, apps, new approaches to subject areas, newly defined subject areas, beautiful production, and much more.

And the world beyond our association is taking notice: October saw writeups in the Economist, reaching among others many university deans; in Bookselling This Week, going out to our independent bookseller neighbors; and in Publishing Perspectives, an international publishing newsletter. NetGalley and Baker & Taylor both featured University Press Week headlines in October newsletters. Congratulations to all on your hard work, and here's to an even bigger 2014!

Regan Colestock
Communications Strategist, AAUP