Monday, November 10, 2014

Salute to University Presses

November 9-15, 2014 is University Press Week
In honor of this occasion, Old Books by Dead Guys pays tribute to these unsung heroes of the publishing world. What is a university press, you ask? As the name indicates, they are usually affiliated with a university or some other scholarly organization, research institute, or think tank. Most are non-profit entities, but they have nothing against selling books and making money. They come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny skeleton-crew outfits to gargantuan behemoths (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge). They differ primarily from commercial publishers in that their mission is to publish works of scholarly import, whether profitable or not. Many books published by university presses are aimed at an academic audience, with the main purpose of advancing the body of knowledge in a particular field of study. 

Prior to the invention of the ebook and the subsequent easy access to free public domain literature, university presses were one of the few places one could turn to for obscure old books by dead guys. They are still the source of most books on literary criticism and biography, as well as many works of foreign literature in translation. Here at OBDG we’re mainly concerned with the humanities—literature, history, philosophy—but of course there are many UPs that focus on the sciences as well.

All I can offer in humble homage to these valuable institutions is to spread the word on some university press editions that have graced the pages of this blog. Looking over the list of titles below, you’ll see that many of these books are so narrow in scope and appeal that they’re unlikely to take the world by storm, yet for those interested in these particular subject areas these are valuable volumes that, were it not for the scholarly mission of university presses, would likely have gone unpublished. Thank you, university presses, for publishing the little books that matter! 

Click on the titles below to read the full reviews:

University of Georgia Press

University of Illinois Press

University Press of Kansas

University of Nebraska Press (and their Bison Books imprint)

Oxford University Press

Princeton University Press

Smithsonian Institution Press

University of Texas Press

Utah State University Press

University of Washington Press

Yale University Press

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