Derek Krissoff's Essay
University presses are publishers – just like Random House or Condé Nast – but instead of trying to make money from bestsellers, we publish books and journals that help advance scholarship.
If you’re a professor going up for tenure, odds are you need publications from a university press to help establish your academic credentials. If you’re looking to assign books or articles for a college class (particularly in the humanities or social sciences), you’re probably considering lots of university press publications. And if you’re undertaking your own scholarship, you are, in all likelihood, building your argument on the shoulders of plenty of previous work published by university presses.
In short, university presses are a key part of the academic landscape, and without them scholarship would be much poorer. We’d have far fewer books and journals about important but sometimes specialized subject matter, and scholarly work that did appear (through, say, posting directly to the web) would lack the peer review, editing, design, and marketing that university presses specialize in. My colleagues at WVU Press will have more to say about that.
If you’re interested in how university presses decide what to publish – and the value we add through that acquisitions work – I’d encourage you to check out a blog post I wrote for University Press Week.