Whiting Week-in-Residence 2011

Support from the Mrs. Giles F. Whiting Foundation allows a number of press staff to travel to other presses for a week of investigation, learning, and collaboration each year. In 2011, four AAUP colleagues spent a week "abroad" as part of this professional exchange program.

Walter Biggins spends most days acquiring titles for the University Press of Mississippi, but for a week in September he traveled west to learn about the University of California Press's regional acquisitions program. Biggins learned how California is both trimming and re-strategizing their regional list, shifting its focus from meditations to guidebooks and from specific wildlife species to clearly defined subregions, and considering the possibility of licensing related apps for tablets and smartphones. Biggins was also given an extensive overview of the press's workings by meeting with the press director and CFO, sitting in on meetings of the editorial board and acquisitions team, and discussing permissions, marketing, and e-books with various staff. "It was an invigorating, eye-opening experience that gave me cause for considerable reflection," Biggins reports, "and allowed for our presses to exchange ideas."

The University of South Carolina Press Interim Director Jonathan Haupt hopped up to the University of Virginia Press for three days in December to examine Virginia's robust e-books program, including Rotunda, to see what he could apply to South Carolina's much newer program. "From funding of innovative initiatives to the nuts-and-bolts tasks of metadata submissions and title conversions, all aspects of the UVA Press digital publishing efforts were discussed in a series of very helpful exchanges," Haupt writes. Haupt left with new knowledge about what works for conversion workflows, title selection, marketing prioritization, and third-party partners—and with new motivation and ideas for South Carolina. One-on-one meetings with Virginia Director Penny Kaiserlian also provided useful advice for managing digital programs.

Karen Laun, Senior Production Editor at Cornell University Press, took a grand tour of Boston last September, where she was hosted by the MIT Press and also found time to visit Beacon Press, Harvard University Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the University Press of New England. Laun's week focused on e-publishing: specifically, the role of the editorial department in workflow for e-books and XML; how presses are handling that workflow and all of its additional data; and larger technology issues like publishing platforms and digital asset management.

Laun completed a round of meetings with the digital, marketing, and journals departments, and attended some weekly interdepartmental meetings. "After my visit, I had a clearer vision of the steps Cornell needs to take to advance its own ebook program in a way that is appropriate to our size and the kinds of books we publish," says Laun. "Even more valuable was the opportunity to create a network of colleagues for the future."

After colleagues recommended the University of Texas Press's sales management know-how, Rachael Levay, Sales and Publicity Manager at University of Washington Press, decided to use her Whiting week to visit Austin. There, she worked primarily with the marketing team, but also met with acquisitions, IT, and development staff. Levay dove into everything from interdepartmental publicity efforts to analyzing book exhibits to examining e-book data, vendors, and pricing models—and more. "I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the wonderful people at [Texas]," Levay reports. "They were so open and honest about their successes and the places where they are still putting together their ideas."

Thanks are due to the host presses for the time and attention devoted to grant recipients. Those interested in reading more about the Whiting Week-in-Residence program can visit the program page on the AAUP website.