University Press prints out top books

George Parmly Day, Class of 1897, and his wife, Wilhelmine, founded the Yale University Press in 1908. Over 90 years and 7,000 titles later, the Press has grown into a fully-fledged department of the University, with offices in New Haven and London.

The Yale University Press has developed a reputation as one of the top university presses in the nation.

“We [publish] about 250 titles per year,” said Karen Corvello, Publicist for the Press. “We are especially known for our arts books, but we have a wonderful list in history and politics, too.”

The Press has published many well-known books and recently had a New York Times bestseller — Ahmed Rashid’s “Taliban” — featured on ABC News and CNN.

“The book has done quite well since the unfortunate events of Sept. 11,” said Assistant Publicity Manager Heather D’Auria. “It was published over the summer, but post 9/11 it went back to print several times. We are proud to have published such an informative book.”

The Press has grown considerably since beginning business in a “pigeonhole” in New York. Its next move to a building near Washington Square, New York gave it an entire room. Now, the main office is in a grand house on Temple Street, and the Press has a branch in London.

“[The London office] has a separate acquisitions department and they sign their own books,” said Acquisitions Administrator Candice Nowlin, “However, everything goes through the same protocol.”

The Press has also published many prize-winning books. David Anfam’s “Mark Rothko” won the 2000 Mitchell Prize in the History of Art category, and “What a Blessing She Had Chloroform,” by Donald Caton, received the Anesthesia History Association’s David M. Little Prize in 2000.

The Press gives “first consideration to quality and — particular attention to works by members of the faculty of Yale University,” according to the Yale University Press Articles of Government. Many Yale professors have chosen to publish with the Press, including Robert A. Dahl, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science, David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of History, and Wayne A. Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies.

Meeks said in an e-mail that the Yale University Press has been successful despite pressures to become more commercial.

“All university presses, I’m afraid, have been under growing pressures to sustain themselves financially, and that means they have been forced to behave more and more like commercial presses,” Meeks said. “My impression is that Yale has done pretty well in balancing these pressures so far. Its great strength through the years has been the intelligence and integrity of its editors.”

History and American Studies professor Steven Stoll, who has not published with the Press, was also complementary.

“Yale has the profile and the style of a trade press but the standards of a university press, and the books look great,” he said in an e-mail. “It seems to be one of the three best university presses in the country, and I would love to publish a book with them in the future.”

Professors from other institutions, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, Stanford and Columbia, have also chosen to publish with the Press.

“All projects are submitted to the same level of scholarship,” Nowlin said. “[Yale professors] may go to another publisher perhaps because of a better deal.”

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