University Press adapts to new publisher

By Christina Oddo

Writer

The University recently switched its press partnership from privately owned family business Associated University Press (AUP) to publishing conglomerate Rowman & Littlefield.

Since 1968, Bucknell University Press (BUP) has maintained a partnership with AUP, a private business run by Thomas Yoseloff. This 42-year partnership produced over 1,000 titles in the humanities and social sciences, according to an article on the University’s website.

AUP provided product facilities, like bind stock and distribution, but also collected all of the proceeds from the University’s books. The University Press was responsible for editorial requirements and to evaluate manuscripts and proposals.

The University Press took this “great opportunity to find a better deal,” because Yoseloff was retiring and AUP was reorganizing their business, said director of Bucknell University Press and English professor Greg Clingham.

Clingham looked at 21 different business plans before he found Rowman & Littlefield, a large, $50 million company that, according to Clingham, “offered what we had before and more.”

Past success in publishing has shown that Rowman & Littlefield is a very stable company. According to Clingham, the company’s distribution services are “truly gigantic,” in that distribution offices are located everywhere, from the UK to Southeast Asia.

Rowman & Littlefield  also offers “Print on Demand” services and can produce high quality products very quickly, ultimately allowing for products intended for customers in England, for example, to be printed in distribution centers in England. The process eliminates shipping, a more expensive endeavor. The process can also print overnight in both paperback and hardcover, Clingham said.

In addition, the University Press will earn royalties on sales of all their books by joining with Rowman & Littlefield.

Rowman & Littlefield produce 50 different electronic publications, which according to Clingham, is a very relevant topic in regards to the nature of the press. Electronic publications have made almost every text extremely accessible. It costs much less to pay for an electronic text than for a hardback. Different companies offer different books and texts electronically in this “electronic format of a library.”

Electronic publications range from handhelds, which are plugged into a computer with a cable, to hypertexts on websites, such as E-brary and Google Books.

Electronic publications “make documentation universally available,” Clingham said.

University Press intern Kimberly Papa ’11 said that the electronic readers “can be really useful, especially for someone who enjoys reading multiple books at once, but doesn’t want the hassle of carrying them around.”

Electronic publications also capitalize on Clingham’s “old dream, to have all books” contained within one set of walls. That dream, which never really came true, has now transformed into the “Google dream” of a “universal library,” he said.

Clingham believes that the BUP’s partnerships with for-profit commercial companies produce a creativity that enhances scholarly and faculty development.

The “production of knowledge,” and the resulting “scholarly conversation” are “what being a University is all about,” Clingham said.

Despite some drawbacks, the University sees the partnership with Rowman and Littlefield to be a positive move. According to a press release on the University’s website, “the benefits to Bucknell University Press of a partnership with R&L include long-term stability, a global promotional plan … a print-on-demand facility … an electronic backlist and more printing options.”

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