AAUP 2009 Annual Meeting Wrap-Up

Despite tough economic times and tightened travel budgets, nearly 500 members of the scholarly publishing community turned out in Philadelphia for the 2009 AAUP Annual Meeting. As always, the sense of collegiality and community that is a hallmark of AAUP pervaded the meeting from the first plenary sessions through till the late night receptions.

Two pre-meeting workshops got AAUP's time in Philadelphia off to a great start, as the nearly 35 registrants for each had the chance to devote a day or more to hear from their colleagues on how they have faced some of the most pressing challenges publishers face in the digital era. "Rights and Permissions in a Digital Marketplace" attracted staff from all areas of university press publishing, and provided valuable information on how some presses are dealing with the challenge of digital rights and content. "Electronic Marketing" was also well received and featured lively discussions on topics from effectively utilizing social networking media to the relative benefits of "giving away" content.

Attendees came together on the first night of the meeting for the Opening Banquet, where they were welcomed by Executive Director Peter Givler. Historian Michael Zuckerman delivered the keynote speech, in which he took the unusual tack of describing the histories of "horses, and watches, and perhaps a bit about radio and newspapers," in order to demonstrate that "many reports of many technological deaths have been greatly exaggerated." He closed memorably by exhorting the audience: "when we go— if we go—let's go gloriously, honorably, and, above all, joyously. There's no crying in publishing."

The Opening Banquet also saw the presentation of the 2009 AAUP Constituency Award to Tony Crouch.

Panel and roundtable sessions covered a wide variety of issues facing university presses today from formatting books for e-readers, to connecting the press with the parent university to the always popular "best practices" sessions in which colleagues share both what has worked well for them and what they wish they had not done.

The annual meeting is always a time of transition in AAUP leadership, as the current president becomes the past-president, and the president-elect assumes the reins. Alex Holzman, 2008-2009 AAUP President, gave his farewell address to the membership on June 19, in which he advocated for finding a new model for e-book production and distribution, despite the many challenges that will need to be worked out along the way.

The next afternoon, Kathleen Keane assumed leadership of the AAUP as she gave her inaugural address.

One of the most memorable talks of the meeting, and surely the most controversial, was Michael Jensen's "Scholarly Publishing in the New Era of Scarcity," part of Plenary 4 on Directions in Open Access Publishing. Now available on YouTube, the recording of his talk has now received over 1,000 views – not bad for a video on scholarly publishing! In his talk Jensen advocated that presses move towards a digital publishing model with a focus on open access, as a means of saving not only university press publishing, but civilization as a whole. Detailing frightening signs of environmental collapse, he implored the audience: "Please don't think of me as a doomer – but I hope I've scared the hell out of you." Judge for yourself at: http://www.nap.edu/staff/mjensen/scarcity.html

If you were not able to attend the meeting, missed a session because of another held simultaneously, or simply want to have a second look at the presentations, many are available via the Annual Meeting Wiki and the online program.

Recordings of the entire meeting, individual sessions, and the Electronic Marketing Workshop are all available from Conference Media.

The 2010 AAUP Annual Meeting will be held June 17-20 in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown. The 2010 Annual Meeting Program Committee, chaired by Greg Britton (Publisher, Getty Publications), will meet in September to discuss ideas for the program. If you have ideas for sessions or wish to participate, please e-mail Greg Britton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We hope to see you there!