Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991


August 17, 1991


Fred Woodward is writing the book on where University Press of Kansas will be in the year 2000.

"I have a vision of where the press should be," said Woodward, director of the press, located in a new building at Kansas University.

Within nine years, Woodward wants to nearly double annual publication to 55 titles and build revenues to $2 million.

He has a good shot of accomplishing the goal. The number of titles and sales has been increasing the past nine years, he said.

"We are growing in size and reputation," he said.

University Press is the non-profit scholarly publishing arm of the state's six public universities. It was founded in 1946.

Its mission is to publish scholarly books that advance knowledge and regional books that contribute to an understanding of Kansas, the Great Plains and Midwest.

Before the University Press could take a big step toward Woodward's vision, he had to get it out of Carruth-O'Leary Hall. Quarters there were cramped.

"PEOPLE WERE doubled up in offices. Equipment was out in the halls. We tried not to have the fire marshal come visit us very often," he said.

"We couldn't reach the vision unless we had additional staff and space to publish more books."

Woodward and his colleagues moved into a new $750,000 building in June on West 15th Street. It more than doubled the workspace.

"We didn't get any money from the state. It was generated from operating surpluses," he said.

University Press also financed a warehouse in 1989.

The annual budget is $1.3 million $1.1 million of that coming from book sales. The balance comes from state universities.

In the last fiscal year, the press sold 93,000 books throughout the world.

About 20 percent of the University Press operation is devoted to regional titles, which account for one-third of its revenue.

"As an economic strategy, we consciously developed a regional list to support the more scholarly publications, which are definitely money losers," Woodward said.

For example, "Fishes of the Central United States," is the press' best-selling book. In nearly 10 years, 40,000 copies have been sold.

THE PRESS' areas of specialty are the American presidency, U.S. history, political science, social and political philosophy, military studies and regional writing.

University Press is responsible for everything except the actual printing of a book. Employees decide what is to be published, acquire the work, edit the manuscript, design the jacket and award the printing through competitive bidding and market the product.

Nearly all University Press books are printed outside the state.

New works are acquired through networking, which includes attending academic meetings and keeping in touch with scholars in various fields.

"You try to learn about a project at a very early stage and get in touch with that person. You try to sell them on the notion of publishing with the University Press," Woodward said.

SOMETIMES THAT means a bidding war. Advances are paid, but they don't compare to advances in the commercial book market. Advances range from $1,500 to $5,000.

The key to the scholarly publishing business is acquisition and marketing, Woodward said.

"It's sort of like manufacturing a product. If you have a good product and can sell it, you will be successful," he said.

Woodward said 15 percent of the press' titles are written by faculty at a state university in Kansas. KU faculty author a majority of those books.

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