Their Winning Ways
by Tatyana Sinioukov
University of California Press book producers achieve success by attending to the nuances of design and production
Since its inception in 1893, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, has become one of the largest university publishers in the nation, earning recognition for its diverse titles and creative approach to book design. Originally established to distribute the faculty research papers by exchanging them, for free, for papers from other universities, the University of California Press today serves as the university's non- profit publishing arm, creating titles from special editions of the classics to fine art books to historical studies to volumes of extensive research.
For this story, BookTech the Magazine asked Tony Crouch, director of design and production, to talk about what makes UC Press unique and to discuss points of interest in the UC Press production workflow. Crouch shared his thoughts on the intricacies of on-demand printing, how to keep up with the emerging technologies, and where, in his opinion, book publishing will find itself five years from now.
Do you consider yourselves a "typical" university press?
We publish books of general interest as well as scholarly titles for regional, national and international markets. Our titles are warehoused on both coasts and also in the UK for distribution throughout Europe. We could be considered different from other university presses in the sense that our list is often both eclectic and experimental.
Could you define what separates a university press from, say, McGraw-Hill or Random House?
The primary difference between a university press and a trade house is profit. Traditionally, a university press exists to disseminate the results of scholarly research and writing, whereas a trade publisher exists to maximize the profit potential of its products.
To have an outlet for their work, scholars need a publishing house whose basic goal is not profit but rather the dissemination of knowledge. The categories of books at the core of our publishing program would mean financial disaster for a trade publisher. Many university presses were originally subsidized by their parent institutions in recognition of the symbiotic relationship between the academy and the non-profit university press. Today, however, many university presses no longer enjoy the level of financial support previously provided by their parent universities. They have been forced to diversify their publishing programs to include some profit-generating trade titles. This delicate balance of trade and scholarly titles is a financial strategy to allow university presses to be nearly self-supporting.