University Press Week is upon us. As we have done in the past, we’ve chosen to kick off the festivities with a blog tour. This annual celebration gives us time to reflect on the mission that unites us as a community of university presses with the common goal to publish creative and innovative academic works. This year the Association of University Presses has chosen the slogan “Read. Think. Act.” Today, we will focus on the topic “How to build community.” With this theme, we can’t help but be reminded of our very own MIT Press Bookstore, a place that links academia and scholarship to publishing, authors, and readers.
But first, a bit of background…
More than 40 years ago, the MIT Press Bookstore opened its doors, inspired by a desire to reimagine what a university press looked like. This full-service retailer for books and journals has gone on to serve those who work and live around Central and Kendall Squares in Cambridge, Massachusetts and beyond.
On its surface, the MIT Press Bookstore looks just like any other retailer. We stock books and journals published by the MIT Press as well as an eclectic and thoroughly curated selection of books by other publishers in related fields. We also sell novelty items and MIT Press merchandise. But we do so much more than that.
The MIT Press Bookstore organizes and hosts several book-related programs for our local audience, most notably the authors@mit event series. This series welcomes national and international authors and experts who cover cutting edge topics in art and architecture, computer science and technology, cognition, neuroscience and linguistics, engineering, biology, physics, and other many other subjects. Our experts stimulate readers to critically disseminate information, create well-informed discourse, and forge real-world action.
Outside the walls of our store, we expand on that goal by connecting with other nearby institutions and groups. For example, we provide bookselling services to the MIT community by setting up pop-up shops at campus events. We also attend several off-site programs, like the annual Ig Nobel Prizes and the Boston Book Festival, allowing us to interact with an even larger pool of people.
It is common knowledge that publishers rely on independent book shops, big chain stores, libraries, and internet giants like Amazon to put books and journals in front of people. But for the MIT Press, having a physical store has created a unique opportunity to reach a wider readership in a way that is authentic and autonomous. And to an extent, the bookstore has become the face of the Press, not just for our local community in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but even in the most recondite corners of the world thanks to the internet. With the help of the MIT Press Bookstore, the Press has continued to expand its presence in the global community in new palpable ways.
By visiting our bookstore, attending our events, and engaging with us through various communication channels online, readers will find new ways to engage with important discourse happening all around us.