Shrinking Library Market Poses Challenge to University Presses
Laura Waldron’s life is publishing. An author, a publisher and the marketing director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, Waldron offers a perspective on academic publishing that is uniquely well rounded.
After an internship at Carnegie Mellon Press piqued her interest in publishing, she cut her teeth in sales and marketing for Princeton University Press and eventually represented 15 different university presses in the Mid-Atlantic territory as a trade sales representative. Today, she is closing in on her 10th anniversary with Penn Press and is the author of “Museums of Philadelphia: A Guide for Residents and Visitors,” which was published in 2004 by Westholme Publishing, a company she and her husband founded. An independent publisher of American and European history and culture, military history, sports, and regional interest, Westholme will publish 20 titles this year and is expected to gross more than $1 million by the end of 2008.
The unique vantage point gained by Waldron as an author, university press marketer and independent publisher provides a unique look at the changing markets she—and many Book Business readers—face today.
What interests you most about your job as marketing director for Penn Press from?
Laura Waldron: The variety of responsibilities in my job. For instance, today I talked to our commission rep in the Southeast about some key accounts in his territory; wrote promotional copy for a book about the Lenni Lenape Indian nation during the Revolutionary War; and worked out inventory management for a new book of ours on the war on terror, whose author will be the featured guest on 20/20 for their 9/11 show—and that list just takes us up to lunchtime!
As Penn publishes books that are both scholarly and trade oriented, I am engaged with both the intellectual debates within the academic world, and the real-life challenges that the business of publishing presents.