The Decline of the University Press

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The university press system has faced a rapid decline. Research libraries, looking to cut costs to pay for expensive electronic journal subscriptions, buy fewer monographs. Subsidies from parent institutions are down. Meanwhile, the researchers who publish with and rely on content from university presses demand access to digital content. The Nation explores the rise and fall of the UP system, a critical part of the publishing world:

In the intervening 136 years, the network of university presses has become a vibrant part of the publishing ecosystem. It encompasses giants such as Oxford University Press, which has fifty-two offices around the world, as well as Duquesne University Press, which specializes in medieval and Renaissance studies. University presses publish a vast range of scholarship, but they also publish a dizzying array of books that are unlikely to find a home at Manhattan’s large commercial publishers.


Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →