Whiting Residency 2013

Once again, the Whiting Residency program, with generous funding from the Mrs. Giles F. Whiting Foundation, allowed a number of staff from AAUP member presses the opportunity to visit and learn from colleagues at other presses. The 2013 grantees completed exchanges in production, contracts, and general operations.

Visiting MIT Press, John Davies, the Managing Editor at University of Georgia Press, undertook a thorough study of the XML-first workflow. Georgia currently uses an XML-last strategy, and Davies's goal was to compare the two, factoring for both cost savings and long-term publishing flexibility.

MIT's staff is a few times the size of Georgia's, and includes in-house programmers who can help with changing workflows and in-house composition. The relative expense of handling certain processes in-house at MIT is tracked through an internal budgeting system: in-house composition is billed across departments, allowing for easier comparison to theoretical costs of outsourcing. Besides saving money, in-house XML has allowed MIT to cut down on overall production time, which now runs on a six- to ten-month schedule.

Davies returned home with a long list of considerations and next steps for re-evaluating Georgia's production practices. In the end, he concluded that because of differences in size and structure, XML-last is probably still best for his press—but as Davies says, "I have a much clearer idea of how such a change would work."

As is common among university press staff, Sara Cohen wears many hats at Temple University Press: she is both Assistant Editor and Rights and Contracts Manager, the latter a role that had previously been dispersed among various Temple staff. Traveling to Harvard, to visit with staff that benefits from decades of experience, allowed Cohen to "get a stronger sense of how rights and contracts fit into a press's larger mission."

Cohen arrived with particular questions about contract clauses, foreign rights management, and "sticky" rights and permissions issues. But she returned to Temple prepared to take on several new projects, including revising the press's author contract, developing the foreign rights program, and streamlining the author permissions process. "Before my visit to HUP, these projects seemed daunting and unwieldy, but after my conversations with Stephanie, Karen, Pamela, and Cristina, I feel prepared to take them on," Cohen reports.

Whiting residencies often involve considerable travel given our widespread membership; accolades this year go to Jodie McBean, Accounting Officer at the University of the West Indies Press, who covered more than 1500 miles for her November residency at NYU Press. West Indies is a smaller press, with 7 on staff and about 25 titles published yearly, so making the journey to NYU allowed McBean to learn from the whole spectrum of a midsize press's activities.

McBean's priorities for the residency were wide-ranging and ambitious, from developing better business, IT, and digital workflows to looking into developing an internship program. And in the end she did return home with concrete tools: new reporting templates, e-marketing knowledge, refined inventory and royalty management skills, software recommendations, and much more. Of her time at NYU, McBean reports, "I enjoyed the positive work environment, warmth, kindness, and openness of all the staff. Our press is certainly benefiting from the wealth of knowledge and experiences shared during the visit."

Regan Colestock
Communications Strategist, AAUP