University Presses Collaborate in Innovative New Publishing Projects

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Supports Collaborative Scholarly Publishing of First Books in Four Underserved Fields

January 18, 2008: The Association of American University Presses congratulates the thirteen member presses whose four proposed collaborations in underserved scholarly fields have been awarded grants by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The four projects and participating presses are:
• Slavic Studies: University of Wisconsin Press, Northwestern University Press, and the University of Pittsburgh Press;
• American Literatures: New York University Press, Fordham University Press, Rutgers University Press, Temple University Press, and the University of Virginia Press;
• South Asian Studies: Columbia University Press, the University of California Press, and the University of Chicago Press;
• Ethnomusicology: Indiana University Press, Kent State University Press, and Temple University Press.

The first three projects have received funding for five years, to support a collaborative book publishing program in the specified field. “Despite changing business models and distribution platforms, the monograph—the argument in long-form—remains the coin of the realm in the humanities and many of the social sciences,” says AAUP Executive Director Peter Givler. “Mellon’s support for the book through these innovative collaborations is a welcome recognition of that fact.”

Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Pittsburgh will use the Mellon funds to support the publication and promotion of first monographs in Russian, East European, and Central Asian studies. Although all three presses have strong publication lists in this field, this initiative will enable them to accept more first books by junior scholars, to work closely with those scholars to develop their authorial skills, and in some cases to underwrite the publication of works in paperback or the incorporation of expensive elements (such as color images). The grant will also allow the publishers to promote the books more widely in the U.S. and abroad, to help launch the careers of these junior scholars by organizing lecture tours to other universities, and to offer publishing panels at Slavic Studies meetings. The web site for this initiative is to come at

The American Literatures Initiative, led by NYU in collaboration with Fordham, Rutgers, Temple and Virginia, also seeks to publish promising scholars’ first books in their focus field of English-language literatures of Central and North America and the Caribbean. The most innovative aspect of the program will be the establishment of a shared, centralized, external editorial service dedicated solely to managing the production of books in the initiative. This service will handle all copyediting, design, layout, and typesetting costs, and manage each title through to the point where it is ready for printing. Mellon funds will also be used to pay authors modest royalty advances and develop robust, collaborative marketing efforts among the five presses—which will reduce costs for advertising and electronic marketing, publicity, academic conference exhibits, and other efforts. A project web site has been launched at

Major editorial goals of the Columbia-led South Asian Studies series will be to open up new archival material to scholars, to explore new theories and methods, and to develop scholarship that is both deep in expertise and broad in appeal across disciplines. The three presses are also bringing the strength of their university’s faculty in this area to the project, selecting three prominent scholars as series editors: Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago, history), Sheldon Pollock (Columbia University, literature), and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA, history). All books in the series will have a common design but will appear under the imprint of one of the three presses.

The ethnomusicology project received a one-year planning grant, the first phase in establishing a cooperative publishing program that will include the digital publication of related field materials. Through their cooperative series Indiana, Kent State, and Temple will seek to broaden publishing opportunities for emerging scholars in ethnomusicology, and to offer scholars in ethnomusicology and related fields enhanced means of accessing these materials via the Web. In so doing the presses’ goal is to assist in disseminating scholarship and developing new methodologies in both research and publication. The project will be eligible to apply for continued funding at the completion of the planning stage.

This round of funded collaborations began in May 2007, when the Mellon Foundation invited university presses to submit brief proposals for such projects. More than 30 groups submitted ideas. Cooperative publishing strategies, such as those being undertaken in these new initiatives, were also a recommendation in the July 2007 Ithaka report, “University Publishing in a Digital Age,” (

About AAUP
The Association of American University Presses is an organization of 126 nonprofit scholarly publishers, dedicated to the support of creative and effective scholarly communications. Through its programs and information resources, AAUP helps its members fulfill their common commitments to scholarship, the academy, and society. Learn more at

Slavic Studies: Chris Caldwell, Publicity Manager, University of
Wisconsin Press
publicity at

American Literatures: Michael B. Richards, Assistant to the Director,
NYU Press
212 998-2571
Michael.b.Richards at

Ethnomusicology: Valerie McClanahan, Publicist, Indiana University Press
vmcclana at

South Asian Studies: Meredith Howard, Publicity Director, Columbia
University Press
212-459-0600, ext 7126
Mh2306 at

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