Director Dean Smith Leaving Cornell University Press

Earlier today, Duke University Press announced that Dean Smith will be their next director. Dean, of course, has served Cornell University as its press director since 2015. This morning, Dean gathered the CUP staff together and told us his bittersweet news.

Surprise and shock greeted his startling announcement, but also pride, good wishes, and congratulations. During his four years here, Dean has led us all with humor, intelligence, compassion, and wisdom. We have all benefited from his guidance and mentoring and we will be saddened when he departs us and moves south.

Dean leaves us at CUP with an emboldened mentality. He has given us the spirit and desire to fly ever higher, to dream ever bigger, and to achieve ever more. In the past four years, we have become leaders in open access publishing, we have moved into journal publishing, and we have grown our front list such that we now publish 150 new books a year. Dean has brokered the agreement with Northern Illinois University Press announced publicly last week. He has overseen the development of our regional trade imprint, Three Hills. We’ve forged new and lasting strategic partnerships and collaborations with various university departments and outside service providers. He moved us into a new reporting structure under the Cornell University Library where we now have full and solid support and advocacy. He has developed a nascent endowment and fundraising capacity. And he has acquired some of our best-selling books of the past few years.

Dean Smith’s time at Cornell University Press has been a spectacular success, and he leaves us positioned for success, sustainability, and growth. We all wish him the best in his new role and want him to know that he has given us the gift of confidence and strength as a publisher of incredible authors and books and in ourselves as purveyors of publishing knowledge and excellence.

Bon Voyage, Dean. We’ll miss your bow ties, Baltimore sports books, Grateful Dead references, and unstoppable optimism.

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Director Dean Smith Leaving Cornell University Press

Outbox: Smart Books

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Top L to R: Unbuttoning America by Ardis Cameron, The Borscht Belt by Marisa Scheinfeld. Bottom L to R: Where the River Burned by David and Richard Stradling, The Angola Horror by Charity Vogel, Under the Surface by Tom Wilber

By Michael J. McGandy

A couple of months ago I was recording a segment for “1869: The Cornell University Press Podcast” and our marketing director, Martyn Beeny, asked me what I meant when I talked about “smart books.” I had used the term in association with the sort of titles I wanted to acquire for our new regional trade imprint, Three Hills. “Smart” sounded like a good word, even a smart word, but what did I mean by it?

I paused, and audibly gulped. (You can listen here; the gulp comes at 2:06.) While I pulled myself together and said something about books that were “well-researched,” “informed,” “fair,” and “searching”—all good words, too—the truth was that I was not sure what I meant when I used the term “smart.” I felt that I knew what a smart book was but, when asked by Martyn, I realized I did not have a handle on what was obviously an intuitive feel for the sort of title I wanted to sign for the imprint.

A lot of work in publishing is, in fact, done by feel and intuition. That is part of the peril and fun of what we acquisitions editors do when we make judgments about quality and determine what we want to publish. Yet my failure to be articulate on this topic bothered me, and so I thought more on it. I use the term most often when I am talking about my trade and academic-trade titles—books that are meant to appeal to broader audiences—and that sense of readership plays into the concept of smart that, after some reflection, I struck upon. Continue reading “Outbox: Smart Books”

Outbox: Smart Books