Two months ago, for the second consecutive year, I represented Cornell University Press at the AAUP Annual Meeting. The discussion panels, networking opportunities, and ambient air temperatures in Austin, TX, were extremely positive experiences.
First, who am I and why did I trek all the way to Austin?
I have been an acquisitions assistant at Cornell University Press for approximately two years, recently making the transition to assistant editor. I landed here after receiving a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics studying beetle horn development from Indiana University and completing two postdoctoral appointments researching butterfly wing patterning at Yale and Cornell Universities (true story). As my second postdoctoral appointment came to an end, I realized my passion was with editing and publishing rather than bench work. I had the experience to justify such a switch, having published my research in several academic journals (still ongoing!), edited and peer reviewed manuscripts on a regular basis, helped students and lab mates with their writing, and composed grants for my own funding. Thus, unbeknownst to me, I was already performing some tasks of an academic editor even before walking through the Cornell University Press lobby. Continue reading “Adventures in #Acquisitioning: AAUP 2017”→
“Find your beach,” Corona suggests (forcefully, with beautiful people drinking ice-cold Coronas in beautiful places), and now we suggest the same. We’re not going to be as forceful, nor will we employ models to showcase our wares. Instead, our very-much-above-average books are the stars of this sale. We’ve started our first ever not-your-average beach books sale and we’d like you to find your beach so that you can sit down wherever you are with a beautiful Cornell University Press book in hand and disappear from the demands of your day, whatever those may be.
“Just do it” might be another campaign slogan we could appropriate. In other words, just do it and save big. Just do it and find your beach. Just do it and ignore all the other pressures of the day to immerse yourself in a way-above-average beach book.
And now that I’m into repurposing ad slogans, how about taking the Energizer bunny’s motto and encouraging you all to just do it, find your beach, and keep (and here’s where I’m being loose with the original) reading and reading and reading. But wait, there’s more. FedEx says to us all that we should use their service when there is no tomorrow; I’d suggest that if there’s no tomorrow, spending today reading above-average books might well be a better use of your time than shipping something. Disneyland is, of course, the happiest place on Earth. But surely, if you’ve just done it and found your beach and are reading and reading and reading because there is no tomorrow, then that would be the happiest place on Earth.
I could go on. No, really, I could. Instead, I encourage you to do all of the above because this sale won’t actually last forever and, I mean, 50 percent off is a really good reason to add volume to your TBR pile.
Martyn Beeny is Marketing Director for Cornell University Press. Have it your way. Think different. Impossible is nothing. Follow him on Twitter @MartynBeeny
One hears so much these days, in academic circles, about the transnational that it is surprising that a decade ago it was a new concept in many fields. This was particularly so among historians of United States foreign relations, where high-level diplomacy and affairs of state had been the focus of attention as long as anyone could remember. So it was that the inaugural publications in The United States in the World—a book series dedicated to transnational scholarship—were unexpected, innovative, and trend-setting in the study of what was once termed “foreign affairs.” This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the first two books published in the series, and it is time to recognize the insight of the founding series editors and give tribute to the field-changing impact of the twenty volumes that have been published since 2007.
The story of the series goes back to 2005, when Mark Philip Bradley and Paul A. Kramer collaborated with my predecessor at Cornell University Press, Alison Kallett, to frame the series concept. At that time no press had a series of books in history focusing on the role that non-state actors, flows of capital and peoples, and non-governmental organizations had in state diplomacy and international relations. The editors proposed to push beyond the then-popular idea of global history and then to “draw on domestic and international archives,” “challenge conventional periodizations,” and “explore how people, ideas, and cultures traveled between the United States and the rest of the world.” Moreover, while looking ever outward to the larger world, the books were always intended to enrich and broaden, as Mark and Paul wrote in their series proposal, “our understanding of modern United States history.” Continue reading “Outbox – The Transnational Trend in U.S. Foreign Relations 10 Years In: Reflections on a Path-breaking Book Series”→
The difference a t-shirt makes: That is a lesson about regional publishing that I learned in the course of editing our new book, from Peter Conners, about the Grateful Dead’s 1977 concert at Barton Hall on the Cornell campus. When the authors, artists, editors, and archivists who play key roles in developing a book live in close proximity, chance meetings that can change a book are more likely to occur. And, as I learned last summer, if you are at the right place at the right time, you would do well to be wearing the right item of clothing.
Big history is making a comeback in the subfield of early American history. Or perhaps I should say that bigger history is once again of interest to scholars and, as an acquisitions editor, I am seeing exemplary work that shows what can be accomplished when one takes on the challenge of offering a more grand and sweeping account of events.
The contrast here is with the more fine-grained, local, and sometimes fragmentary work that came to the fore in the decades-long rise of social and cultural history. Rightfully weary of the big histories of famous men, military conflicts, and affairs of state, historians turned to the particularities of events and personal experience. In so doing they did scholars and lay readers alike a great service by putting us in contact with the daily and intimate aspects of history (often using diaries and court records), the experience of lesser-known historical actors (often women and people of color), and informal practices that structured experience (often unregulated markets, social networks, and resistance movements). And, as a result, today no one can do legitimate research and write meaningful narratives while overlooking these rich dimensions of historical experience. Continue reading “Outbox: Trends in the History of Early New York”→
To: Sage House Staff From: Patrick Garrison, Data Processing Manager Subject: New Press-wide Database
The PWDB¹ has now been transmitted in final form to Bob Oeste for AllBooks². Our database has now been frozen in time. Full search capability remains, but nothing can be changed. It is what it is, for the ages to come. Goodbye old friend, along with your good buddy CIS³. Change, the inevitable, irresistible force of the Universe, has caught up with you both.
To paraphrase Shakespeare:
Our revels now are ended. These our databases, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The inventory reports, the price change worksheets, The solemn reworking of the PWDB, the great mission of the Press itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a dust jacket behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.
And when we wake, we will find All Books waiting for us, in a forest of Long Leaves4. In another year, we will not think it so long in coming.
What if we’re missing the real revolution of Print on Demand?
Think about it. With POD we could:
Make almost real-time edits and updates to a book
Feed content from a blog or website straight into a book
Create a system for marginalia printed in a book
Change content based on critique
Change a cover to suit audience taste more easily
Personalize every copy of a book
Why would we want to use print books in this way? Isn’t it better to simply allow digital platforms to handle this kind of change? On some level, absolutely. Print books can’t do what digital ones do; they can’t be changed or edited in real time. But what if we tried to mimic the digital experience as closely as we can in print books? How would that affect how we perceive the printed book? In other words, it’s time to flip the print-to-digital paradigm on its head and see if we can apply some digital-like assets to a printed product. Continue reading “DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm”→
My colleagues and I at Cornell University Press were saddened to learn that Susan Christopherson, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning at Cornell, died on Wednesday, December 14. In the obituary posted on the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning website, her faculty colleagues celebrate her excellent research and writing, her commitment to equity in our communities, and her tireless work as an administrator, teacher, and mentor. At the Press my colleagues and I saw those qualities of mind and character displayed in her role as a fair and exacting referee on book manuscripts. My predecessor, Peter Wissoker, and I benefited greatly from her dedication to supporting projects that brought theoretical innovation to grounded research as we built a list of titles in that melded political economy approaches to geography with urban studies. Susan was an indispensable and savvy critic, and a champion of worthy projects in the rough that needed just a little more editorial attention. When my energy flagged on a book she cared about, Susan would jump in and revive the project and push both editor and author to work a bit harder. I cannot imagine a better partnership between editor and faculty member. Susan will be missed be me and by my future authors.
Michael McGandy is a Senior Editor at Cornell University Press.
Steve Zeitlin, in The Poetry of Everyday Life, helps us to maximize our capacity for fulfillment and expression by tapping into the beauty and meaning inherent in everyday life.
In our “place moment” blog post we discussed some of the specific ways Zeitlin prompts his writing students to access their inner expressive selves—their “everyday poet”—and how these prompts can begin to make poetry accessible to those who may not otherwise believe they have the capacity to write creatively.
We at Cornell University Press believe that Zeitlin’s book can be a valuable tool for our local educators, not only to teach the practice of writing, but also to bring forward our community’s stories and therefore its identity. To that end, we’re planning to donate ten copies of his book to our favorite local educators and educational nonprofits.
Help us take part in this campaign to give back to our community! Quote-tweet any of our #PlaceMoment tweets by mentioning who you think should receive our contest prize: ten copies of Zeitlin’s book to use for their work. We suggest these organizations listed below, but you can nominate a worthy nonprofit in your own community.
After tweeting your choice, you will have created one entry for that organization to be selected at random to win. You must be following @CornellPress to enter. We reserve the right to grant prizes to multiple organizations. The contest will end December 23rd, 2016. Please contact us if you have any questions!
Alexis (Lexie) Farabaugh is an intern at Cornell University Press who loves to photosynthesize in the spring. Follow her on Twitter @lexievirginia.
Book editors are notorious for having too much to read and edit, running behind schedule, and, generally, holding up brilliant work that should have been published yesterday. Whether we are seen as imperious gatekeepers whose ways remain hidden behind in-house processes or as antiquated bureaucrats dithering at our desks, there is a general sense that authors as well as readers are unfairly beholden to our jam-packed schedules.
There is some truth to those assessments, of course. And of late I have been keenly aware of these critical (and sometimes contemptuous) evaluations of the work of editors. Coming back to my desk after six weeks of personal leave, and facing hundreds of emails and tens of overdue commitments, has reminded me of how many people are waiting, some patiently and some less so, on word from me about their book projects.
There is a sense of timeliness that is about the inherent quality of the work—the time a work needs and not what the events of our times might mean for its reception and relevance.
I have also been reflecting on the whole idea of the timeliness of books and the time that it takes to make books, particularly excellent books. Recent political events have turned over lots of publishing ideas with once-important books fated for irrelevancy on their first day of sale on Amazon, and editors and authors chasing after the new hot topic associated with the Trump presidency. Timeliness is, indeed, fickle. Continue reading “Outbox: What makes a book timely?”→
Reading is power, because knowledge gives us the tools to think more widely about the things that confront us on a daily basis. In the aftermath of the presidential election many thousands of think pieces, blogs, articles, and much more have been written to rejoice, despair, cajole, criticize, and much else. Many of us read those pieces with minds perhaps already formed, or perhaps not completely open to new ideas. Such an approach is understandable; we seek out information that fits how we view the world or how we wish to view it. We don’t always seek out knowledge that pushes the boundaries of what we already perceive.
One of my jobs as marketing director is to introduce people to new information. Essentially, every time my team and I start marketing a new book we must seek a way to get someone to engage with content that they might not know about, be immediately interested in, or consider within the scope of their desire to know. Every book has a core audience, of course. Each author has written his or her book with that audience in mind. But there are often also audiences that do not immediately seem applicable. It is our job as marketers to find those people so that we can introduce them to the content and, we hope, expand their view of the world. Continue reading “Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Reading is Power”→
The Poetry of Everyday Life, by Steve Zeitlin, hit the stores this month. The book is a lovely meditation on the nooks and crannies of daily life where poetic moments are nestled. Throughout the book the reader meets poets who have captured and paid homage to those moments. A few weeks ago I got to hear some of those poets in person as they read from the book in a lively and jam-packed book party on the Lower East Side in Manhattan at City Lore, where Steve is founding director.
One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting).
We manuscript editors spend our days with manuscripts and page proofs, e-mail and monitors; some of us don’t get out much, or at least as often as some of our colleagues in other departments. One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting). So I thought, when you get an opportunity to attend an event for a book you got to know really well during the editing and production process and see what actually happens when it hits the world, along with a chance to get down to the city, it is a good idea to seize it! Continue reading “The Deer Is OK”→
“The places we care about are baskets that hold the perishable fruits of memory and experience. Take a notebook out to the places that you love, those places that are lush with low-hanging fruit. The moments when you encounter them mark the times when the experience is ripe for you. Savor them.” —Steve Zeitlin
Have you done it? Have you gone back to those places you once held close? Have you explored new places?
First impressions certainly do count for a lot, but they are just first impressions. I’ve found myself thinking about this during my first week at Cornell UP.
You cannot help but have a positive first impression when you arrive at Sage House, home of the Press and namesake of this blog. The old house is beautiful; I’d be surprised if there are too many other university presses with prettier digs. The house is populated with a fun, lively, creative, and intelligent team. I’ve been impressed with everyone’s excitement about the task of creating books. There is genuine pride in what we do here and that has been apparent to me from the first moment.
You cannot help but have a positive first impression when you arrive at Sage House, home of the Press and namesake of this blog.
I’ve enjoyed meeting my fellow marketers, all of whom bring a wealth of experience to the role they play. As the newbie, it’s fun to be taxed and challenged by what they know and how they work. I think we have the foundation for some really inspired and (I hope) inspiring marketing to come in the next few months and years.
But first impressions are simply that. In one week I cannot begin to fathom the inner workings, details, and processes of the oldest university press in the country. That realization is not negative. What it means is that there is so much more to come, so much more to flesh out upon the raw bones of the information I’ve received in my first week. I tweeted this week about trying to learn everything as quickly as possible. But that was on Twitter where I can be a little cheeky. There’s no way I can learn everything in a week, nor would I want to. But what I have found from these first impressions is the sense that my role here as marketing director is going to be fascinating.
Marketing is an ever-changing field, so it naturally requires one to continually grow lest we become stale and old-fashioned. As I discern more about what happens here, what works well, and so on, I’m also conscious that we have to keep evolving and keep trying new things and keep pushing ourselves to find the best way to tell our story to as many people as possible.
At first glance, Cornell UP is going to be a fun place to work—perhaps the most important thing to me in a job—because the people here are primed and ready to take the Press to new heights. So if you catch me standing on the third-floor balcony from time to time, gazing out over the beautiful view of Ithaca below me, it’s simply because I’ve already been lifted up this high and now I’m straining to see what’s next.
Martyn Beeny is the Marketing Director at Cornell University Press. No one told him the streets in Ithaca were so steep! Follow him on Twitter @MartynBeeny
I stopped into The Bookery on Tuesday after lunch at The Moosewood Café a few blocks down from our offices at The Sage House here in Ithaca. I discovered a book on Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud for $1.00 that I pulled from the discount rack. It referenced a friend of mine from my days in New York City. Ben Edwards lived in Chelsea and was a Broadway set designer. With his hickory-tinged Alabama accent, Ben would hold court over martinis with hints of ice skimming the surface in his brownstone telling stories about Tennessee Williams, Elia Kazan and Gielgud.
I noticed another book as I reached for my wallet. On the table was the “Guide to the Campus of Cornell University” published in 1920. The Cornell Press was on hiatus at the time, reopening in 1933. The trim size and feel of the book resembles our recent title, “The Inauguration of Elizabeth Garrett.” The “Guide” was advertised for fifty cents during its time. In 2015, the price had risen to $15.00. I gladly paid it.
The book contains many entertaining passages about the town and the university. We learn that it took seven hours to reach Ithaca by train from New York City in 1920 in the section entitled, “General Directions for a Stranger.” During the winter an “automobile omnibus plies daily from Elmira to Ithaca.”
There’s a section on “The Infirmary.” The Sage House was once an infirmary that contained “rooms, offices, and rooms for convalescent cases.” There were 75 beds in the house and “the number can be doubled in an emergency.” This is good to know for expansion possibilities.
In the “Biographies” section, Henry Williams Sage receives more than a page of copy for his contributions to Cornell. At the inauguration of the university in 1868 with tears in his eyes he told John McGraw, “We are scoundrels to stand doing nothing while those men are killing themselves to establish this university.”
It’s Christmas Eve 2015, and the Sage House is bustling with activity. It feels like seventy degrees outside. Our editor Roger Haydon is busily preparing manuscripts that will bring accolades to the university in areas that Cornell is known for and others that it is not. Mahinder Kingra is plying metadata as though he is wrapping gold chocolate coins to stuff in stockings. Ange Romeo Hall is readying her desk for another 50 or more titles to be published this Spring. Betty Kim is waiting for me to finish writing this.
In today’s volatile publishing industry, these folks and many others are striving to ensure the long-term survival of the Press. It’s an honor to work with them.
Please support your university press and have a tremendous 2016 filled with exciting literary discoveries.
Never Forget the Voices by Dean J. Smith, Director, Cornell University Press
As I read Dr. Susan Ball’s memoir, Voices in the Band, about working in the trenches of the AIDS crisis, I remembered the searing lines from Henri Cole’s poem “Paper Dolls” that was published in The New Yorker in 1995: “Straight as candles/His legs exposed/The eroding candelabrum/That was his body.”
Ball’s account brings back the patients she cared for in all of their tragic beauty. You accompany her on daily rounds and inside the group therapy sessions where doctors were trying any technique possible to deal with a deadly contagion that had become a national health crisis. You learn that many hospitals and doctors didn’t want to deal with these patients. She arrived to find the shoddy work of medical residents who were afraid to touch them.