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What does the University Press Do?: Pressing issues

BY AMINA FARHA

Published November 7, 2007

Phil Pochoda, director of the University Press, said when he tells people that he works for the University Press, they often assume that he works for a newspaper or a printing press - not that he's in the business of publishing books.

That may be because until the recent headline-making controversy surrounding the publication of Joel Kovel's book, "Overcoming Zionism," not many students had heard of the University Press.

So what does the University Press do?

Pochoda said that out of 90 university presses nationwide, Michigan's is within the top ten in size. But Pochoda said it isn't uncommon for university presses to go largely unnoticed by students.

The University Press was founded 77 years ago to disseminate scholarship, Pochoda said.

Research universities have an obligation to sponsor, generate and publish their findings, he said. But most commercial publishing companies shy away from publishing scholarly works, because they only reach a small audience and do not bring much profit.

The only way to guarantee that research got published was to have a university press, Pochoda explained.

The University of Michigan Press, located at 839 Greene St., publishes about 150 books per year and has about 2,500 books currently in print.

Notable bestsellers this season have been "The Strategy of Campaigning," which was co-authored by Condoleezza Rice, University Prof. David Halperin's "What Do Gay Men Want" and Ronald Magill Jr.'s "Chic Ironic Bitterness."

Pochoda said the University Press specializes in certain academic areas and routinely publishes books in classics, economics, theater studies and performance, political science and cultural studies.

The University Press also has a notably large English as a Second Language department, he said.

The University Press also publishes regional and historical books that appeal to a wider audience than scholarly publications might - like books about the state of Michigan.


Amina Farha

Something on campus you've always been wondering about? E-mail hchris@umich.edu.