Thursday, May 21, 2009

Saving University Presses

Prompted by the very real threats facing the Louisiana State University Press, including the possibility of being shuttered, Virginia Quarterly Review editor Ted Genoways writes what he calls "a manifesto" about the future of university presses at the VQR blog. As someone with more than passing familiarity with LSU Press and who now has a book out in this marketing climate with the University Press of Kentucky, which, while weathering the storm better than LSU is still also facing difficulties because of the current economic crisis, I fear for LSU and for university presses generally.

I believe (or perhaps merely couch hope in its more optimistic cousin) that most will survive and will adapt because there will always be a legitimate need for university presses and their variegated missions and there will be enough far-seeing folks at the presses, in the universities, and in the legislatures to help them by. But these are troubling times, and the fact that many will survive and adapt is probably slim solace for those that do not. Genoways' essay is essential reading for anyone who loves books and journals, especially literary journals, and who understands what a central role publishing ought to be to serious universities. Let us hope his cri du coeur does not go unanswered.

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