Changes in book publishing market prompt new initiatives at USC Press
By Marshall Swanson, University Magazine Group, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-0138
A new e-books initiative, a children's and young adult book series, a Southern fiction reprint series and a new book spotlighting South Carolina writers rhapsodizing about places they love in the Palmetto State are all on tap for the USC Press under new Director Jonathan Haupt.
"Many of these projects stem from partnerships I've wanted to pursue for a long time,” said Haupt, the press' former assistant director for sales and marketing who was named director in July. His appointment followed a stint as interim director since June 2011, when former USC Press Director Curtis Clark returned to the University of Alabama Press.
Timing of the new initiatives has something to do with the new ventures as well, Haupt said.
"You can't expect to sustain a scholarly press in the way you used to," he said. "The marketplace has changed so radically that the time is right for new initiatives. E-books are part of that, and broadening our editorial scope to include South Carolina-based children's books and select fiction are part of our efforts to grow the press' impact along the lines that it's always existed. But we also want to be open to a more diverse array of genres and formats."
And USC Press, the state's oldest and largest publisher, has been named as a recipient of this year's annual Governor's Awards in the Humanities. (See related story)
New books being issued by the press in traditional print format will also be available as e-books. More than 50 new and previously published books from the press' catalog of upwards of 1,000 in-print titles have recently been converted to digital format, with a goal of digitizing many more as quickly as possible, Haupt said.
The children's and young adult books series, known as Young Palmetto Books, is a partnership between the press and the S.C. Center for Children's Books and Literacy, which is a collaboration between the S.C. State Library and the USC School of Library and Information Science. A series editorial board, led by center Director Kim Jeffcoat, will identify new projects with connections to South Carolina authors and subject matters.
The first two books in the series will be “Greek Revival from Your Garden,” a young adult garden-to-table cookbook by USC First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides, and “Fragments of the Ark,” a reissued young adult novelization of the life of African-American Civil War hero Robert Smalls by Louise Meriwether.
Southern Revivals, launching in early 2013, is a partnership between the USC Press and the USC Institute for Southern Studies, with institute director Robert Brinkmeyer as series editor. The Southern Revivals series will resurrect recent classics in Southern fiction that have gone out of print and will bring them back with new introductions.
The first two titles, both by South Carolina storytellers, are Dori Sanders' second novel, "Her Own Place," and a collection of short stories by George Singleton, "Why Dogs Chase Cars."
Next May, "State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love," will feature the work of more than 30 South Carolinians, with a foreword by Pat Conroy.
The press is also going to launch a new series of stand-alone volumes on selected topics that first appeared in the “South Carolina Encyclopedia” edited by retired history professor Walter Edgar.
Edgar will edit the new volumes, including one on the American Revolution in South Carolina and potentially a dozen other subjects.
"We'll be updating and expanding the content to include more than what was in the printed encyclopedia," Haupt said. "The ultimate goal is to lead to a digital second edition of the encyclopedia. That may sometime off, but the thematic e-books in the S.C. Encyclopedia Guides series will take up the task incrementally in the meantime."
Haupt wants the press to be more visible on campus, and to broaden its outreach to students as an educational entity. "We’ve been fortunate to have attracted a motivated group of student interns in recent years, primarily from the Honors College and the English Department. We're working to standardize our internship program into a real educational experience for students who are interested in some aspect of publishing or the literary arts in general," he said.
Strengthening ties to the Honors College and the Graduate School are on the horizon through new partnerships. “The press can be a significant resource for good information for students who will lead the next waves of published writers and researchers,” Haupt said, “and if those partnerships can result in publishable material in the short term as well as the long term, so much the better.”
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