Maybe Greatness Is in the Genes
Anthony Crouch has a long line of publishing blood in his family, and now a major industry award under his belt.
Anthony Crouch has lived and breathed publishing all his life. "I was drawn to the world of print and publishing through strong family connections," Crouch recalls. "My grandfather was a typesetter … and my grandmother was a bookbinder. My parents were both heavily involved in publishing."
As an adolescent, Crouch founded a newspaper for his middle school. He was a bit apprehensive, however, when it came to pursuing publishing as a profession.
"I tried several other possible career paths in England before entering the family publishing business. [I learned] all about editing, graphic design, paste-up, advertising and sales, as I worked in the various departments," he recalls. "It was the best grounding I could have received for what was to come…."
In the '60s, Crouch emigrated to Canada, and worked as design and production manager for McGill-Queen's University Press in Montreal. He spent seven years there, learned the business of university presses, and built relationships with many North American paper mills and book manufacturers.
Next, Crouch relocated to Nova Scotia, where he spent 11 years as director of publishing for the provincial government.
Seventeen years ago—after 18 years of Canadian winters—Crouch craved warmer climates and headed to Berkeley, Calif. He accepted a position as director, design and production, for the University of California Press—where he has been since.
Reflecting back on his career so far, Crouch marvels at how technology has changed the way books are made. "It's all so different now. A typical typesetting department today is a room full of quiet computers, compared to the heat and noise of a Linotype or Monotype keyboard and the casting machines of yesteryear," Crouch reminisces.
"Gone are many of the chemicals," he adds. "Hand bindery is rarely seen today, having long ago given way to the necessity of a fast bindery line that takes a printed book block and either makes it into a hardcover or paperback title—in a blink!"
With the perspective of how things used to be done—for centuries—and how books are manufactured today, Crouch suggests technological innovation can be a catch-22—helping to attain better, faster and cheaper print, while presenting new workflow challenges for publishers.
"Over the 40 years that I have spent in print and publishing, part of the challenge—as well as the excitement—has been trying to keep up with the endless pace of change," he suggests. "The new technologies have sped up the process, as well as [raised] expectations for faster and faster turnarounds."
Crouch predicts good things to come for the industry, particularly from solutions that will enable cost-effective, digitally printed four-color books and soft proofing. "The advantages of remote soft proofing are of increasing attraction," he explains. "Even slow adopters are starting to embrace [soft proofing] for its time and cost savings. We still work with the problems of calibration and profiling … but I foresee that challenge being met in the future."
Crouch would also like to see change in the way publishing impacts the environment. His passion for environmental preservation has driven him to action. "Similar to the efforts of 25 years ago to bring about acid-free papers for books, we are now facing the challenge of solving the very real, global environmental crisis," Crouch stresses. "At the University of California Press, we are constantly looking for both uncoated and coated papers, pulped without chlorine or its compounds, as well as papers that contain a high percentage of postconsumer-waste recycled content." The Press is also a member of the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps publishers improve their ecological footprint.
Serving the Industry
When Crouch isn't behind his desk, he's out amidst his colleagues, "giving back" to the publishing community. He is active in numerous publishing associations and has taught at several industry conferences, including the prestigious Stanford Professional Publishing Course.
For six years, Crouch has also served on the board of directors for Bookbuilders West, including one term as the association's president. He has managed a book show, hosted by the Publishers Association of the West, and is currently chairing the Association of American University Press' Eco-Task Force Group.
With 40 years (and counting) in publishing, Crouch's tireless desire to better the industry seems without limit. He continues to find reasons to consider books with fascination, respect, pride and awe. "I still feel the surge of a thrill upon entering a humming press room, with the whir, the hiss and thump of presses and bindery machines," he says.
—Gretchen A. Peck