Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: A Marketing Response to The Chronicle’s Report on the Future of Scholarly Publishing

At the recent Association of American University Presses (AAUP) meeting in Austin, TX, I finally got my hands on the print version of this report, which allowed me to actually read it all since I was no longer stuck behind a paywall. As we all know, it is fascinating. On so many levels.

I am pleased that The Chronicle took the time to compose this survey, send it out, and aggregate the responses, giving university presses a moment in the spotlight in a way that we do not often receive. I am saddened, though, by its overall approach. With a few exceptions, only directors or very senior editors responded (or were invited to). Questions posed were limited to subjects surrounding the acquisition of books. Responses seemed to gloss over the fact that we are businesses with marketing and sales teams.

As I read the questions and answers, I kept wanting to know what these wise and esteemed members of our community think about things other than writing quality, types of books, the acquisitions process, etc. I was struck that many of the responses were cautious—unwilling, perhaps out of fear or respect or something else, to push beyond the expected. While I criticize, I also understand. And yet I wished for something different. As such, I present here my responses to those same questions. I offer them from my perspective as a relatively short-term member of the community and as a marketing-and-business-first thinker. I expect and hope that my responses will elicit criticism, consternation, consideration, creativity, and more conversation. I look forward to, as some of us noted on Twitter during AAUP, a continued conversation. Hopefully that discussion will focus, at least partly, on the future of the university press so that this attention from The Chronicle does not simply fade into the ether now that we have returned to our campuses. Continue reading “Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: A Marketing Response to The Chronicle’s Report on the Future of Scholarly Publishing”

Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: A Marketing Response to The Chronicle’s Report on the Future of Scholarly Publishing

Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Seasonal Catalogs

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I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the future of marketing books. The possibilities of what we can or might do fascinate me because that’s where the fun in marketing books really lies.

Which brings me to seasonal catalogs: the traditional linchpin of book marketing. Confining our book releases to two artificial seasons (for some reason we couldn’t even keep in line with nature and do four) seems archaic to many people. The artifice of the seasons and their accompanying catalogs have long been derided as old-fashioned and unnecessary in the modern Edelweiss, endless media, perpetual publishing and buying model. Even though almost all university presses continue with the seasonal model, some have done away with the printed version of the seasonal catalog entirely.

But we’re not thinking about the seasonal catalog in the right way. We’re only looking at its constraints, its costs, its effect on the house and wider publishing industry. What about the possibilities and potential of the seasonal catalog? Continue reading “Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Seasonal Catalogs”

Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Seasonal Catalogs

Outbox: Trends in the History of Early New York

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Get ready for the return of big history, writes CUP Senior Editor Michael McGandy

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”

Outbox: Trends in the History of Early New York

A Dignitary Visits

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Former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan spoke at Cornell University March 28, 2017.

On Tuesday, March 28th, former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan spoke to an audience of more than eight hundred people at the Statler Auditorium on the Cornell University campus. His visit was the capstone event in the publication of his book My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future. We published his book in February this year, translated into English by Jeffrey S. Irish from the original Japanese.


The work of the CUP team to acquire and publish this book is a perfect example of the way in which we are striving to help change the world one book at a time.


Mr. Kan’s book and lecture, part of the Distinguished Speaker Series from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, focused on the events of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. From our perspective, Mr. Kan’s visit, the lecture, the packed house, and the seemingly never-ending line of eager book buyers waiting for a signed copy and photo opportunity with the former prime minister can only be seen as an unqualified success. Continue reading “A Dignitary Visits”

A Dignitary Visits

DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm

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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”

DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm

It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon

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Buffalo Street Books: saving the world, one bookstore at a time.

It’s University Press Week at AAUP, and we’re excited to participate in the annual UP Week Blog Tour. This year’s theme is “community,” and today’s posts focus on IndieBound, the community of independent bookstores. Find more great reads at our partner presses: University of Texas PressUniversity of Calgary Press, University Press of ColoradoSeminary Co-op BookstoresMcGill-Queen’s University PressDuke University PressNYU PressUniversity Press of Kentucky, and University Press of Kansas.

Next door to Greenstar, Ithaca’s cooperative natural foods market, and down the hall from the legendary Moosewood Restaurant, you’ll find Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca’s cooperatively owned bookstore. In these hard times for the publishing industry, our conspicuously literate college town of 30,000 (50,000 when you include Cornell and Ithaca College’s student bodies) has but four brick and mortar stand-alone bookstores left within its city limits, each staking out its territory: used and rare, science fiction and fantasy, big box, and independent new. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon”

It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon