Monday, January 7, 2013

From the Director

To paraphrase an often quoted line from Mark Twain, reports of the closure of the University of Missouri Press are greatly exaggerated. We remain in our offices on LeMone Boulevard, and we continue to sell and publish books. In addition, we are actively seeking new manuscripts to publish in our areas of expertise.

Nonetheless, 2012 was a difficult year for the Press. As most readers of this blog probably already know, in May the University administration announced its intention of closing the Press. Employees were told they were to be laid off, and the authors of books scheduled for publication in the spring of 2013 were encouraged to find new homes for their works with other publishers. 

The outpouring of support for the Press that followed from authors, readers, librarians, scholars, journalists, and many others was far beyond what anyone had anticipated. In late August, the university reversed the decision. All of us working at the Press owe a deep debt of gratitude to everyone who fought for the Press’s preservation. We were overwhelmed at the extent of the appreciation shown for the books and the staff, for the quality of the volumes and of our work in publishing them.

As we move into 2013, the future for the Press is looking brighter than it has for a long time. In spite of, or maybe because of, all the publicity, sales are nearly even with last year at this time, even with a 20 percent increase in returns from bookstores that were fearful of being caught with nonreturnable stock.

Administratively, the Press has a new home under the Office of the Provost on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri, with strong support for expanding both the number and the formats of publications. The search has begun for a new Director, someone to oversee the exploration of new avenues of publication while insuring that the Press maintains the scholarly rigor inherent in the very best academic publishing.

Because of the loss of manuscripts under contract for the spring of 2013, the Press will not be publishing any new books until the fall of 2013, but we have many books that might be new to you that are well worth checking out. Please take a look at the Press's catalog for fall 2012, and you will find many books that, due to the furor over the Press’s anticipated closure, did not receive anywhere near the review attention that they deserve.

All of these books can be ordered through your favorite retailers or via the Press’s online catalog.

In November, in conjunction with University Press Week, an anonymous donor generously offered $10,000 in matching funds for any donations to the Press. We exceeded the amount needed for earning the matching donation and remain grateful to everyone who so graciously came forward to offer tangible support for the Press. All of the money raised was added to the Press’s endowment, which we aim to build even more in 2013. If you would like to make a donation to the future of the press, go to the Giving to MU webpage, click Other, and type in “University of Missouri Press Endowment Fund.” If you would like to be added to the Patrons’ list and keep abreast of all the Press’s efforts, visit our Patrons of the University of Missouri Press webpage.

During the months to come, we will also be offering special features on the Press’s web page. If you would like to receive announcements of sales and special offers, you can sign up at the link that says, “Click here to enter your email address to sign up for periodic announcements from University of Missouri Press.” We promise not to spam your inbox.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter  and Facebook.

And again, to everyone who supported the Press during the difficult summer and fall months of 2012, thank you.

Jane Lago
Consulting Director
University of Missouri Press

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