University officials announced plans on Friday to merge the University of Michigan Press with the University Library in an effort to reinforce the University’s mission of efficiently publishing scholarly texts while transitioning into the digital age.
The announcement came approximately one month after the Association of American Universities and the Association of Research Libraries issued a call to action urging universities to take a more active role in producing and sharing academic works through digital technologies.
Under the new plan, Dean of Libraries Paul Courant will oversee the University of Michigan Press.
Philip Pochoda, director of the University of Michigan Press, said the library is a natural partner for the University Press and that the change will place the publishing house at the center of the University’s digitization efforts.
The move will signal a major change for the University of Michigan Press, Pochoda said. The University of Michigan Press will now digitize scholarly books and only print them once an order has been placed.
The conventional method of a publishing house involves printing a certain number of copies of a book and storing the copies in a warehouse until orders are placed, Pochoda said. The University of Michigan Press’s new model will, therefore, avoid printing more copies than necessary and reduce physical storage costs.
Pochoda said despite this, some areas of the University of Michigan Press will not be affected. He said books published for the general reader, including books on the Great Lakes and issues of public concern like personal health or poverty will continue to be published under the current model.
Pochoda said the reorganization will better align the University of Michigan Press with the goals of the University as a whole.
“(It will) allow us to connect to the central mission of the University,” he said. “(The move) puts us into being a part of the academic mission of the University.”
The move, Pochoda said, will allow the University Press to better serve some of its main clients, including the School of Information, School of Art & Design and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
Pochoda also said the reorganization will give the University of Michigan Press more flexibility in financing projects.
“Projects will not be subject to profit/loss measurements,” he said, explaining that instead the unit will need to be profitable overall.
Pochoda said that being profitable may not actually mean the unit needs to make money, but rather that it meet or exceed the minimum benefit deemed reasonable by the University.
“To be fair, the new budget hasn’t been worked out yet,” he said.
The University of Michigan Press budget is not expected to be finalized until June when the University budget is finalized. As part of the reorganization, the University of Michigan Press’s budget will fall under the jurisdiction of the University Library budget and the University of Michigan Press will receive money from the General Fund.