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November 16, 2012

"The Unique and Indispensable Service of University Presses"

Samuel Jay Keyser, author of Mens et Mania and I Married a Travel Junkie, Professor Emeritus in MIT’s Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, and Special Assistant to the Chancellor, writes about the contribution of university presses to close out our University Press Week celebration:

Several years ago Frank Urbanowski, the then head of the MIT Press, pointed out something to me about university presses that I have never forgotten. He said that if all the books published in a year were represented as a column, then the number of books university presses publish would amount to a slice of that column about the thickness of a credit card. In other words, the audience for university press books is tiny compared to other presses. A book that sells 2,000 copies is considered a runaway best seller. That is the unique and indispensable service of university pressesto make books available to a small, highly focused audience despite the difficult economics of doing so. It is a great service. The contribution they make to the sciences writ large and to the arts cannot be overestimated. The debt that the sciences and the arts owe them is unpayable.

To learn more about the unique and indispensable service of university presses, be sure to check out the full University Press Week blog tour!

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