Dundee joins press gang

October 22, 2004

Dundee University Press became the UK's newest academic publishing house this week and promised to bring the excitement of academic research to a wider readership.

The press, launched on Monday, will initially focus on disciplines in which Dundee is particularly strong, notably the life sciences, history, politics and law.

It aims to publish up to eight titles in its first year, rising to about 20 in the second and 30 the year after. It pledges to be proactive in seeking authors and will not confine itself to Dundee staff.

Chris Whatley, a noted historian and dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences, who heads the editorial board, said: "Many of the big universities have a publishing house and, since we see ourselves as an increasingly strong university, we think it's appropriate for us."

He insisted that DUP would not dumb down to reach the wider public nor offer an outlet for people who would not otherwise be published.

"We want to be associated with high-quality academic work that is accessible to the intelligent, interested non-academic, and I don't think there is any contradiction in these two ambitions," he said.

"These books aren't going to be selling in Tesco. We believe there are academics who don't dilute, short-change or patronise but write well. What is the point of having great ideas if you can't explain them to the rest of the world? I think we have a responsibility to make accessible what is going on in universities."

The company is a partnership between the university and the Edinburgh-based publisher Birlinn Ltd, which recently took over Tuckwell Press, a leading publisher of Scottish history. Under the deal, Tuckwell's founder, John Tuckwell, becomes commissioning editor for DUP.

The university was coy about giving exact figures, but it said that 30 per cent of DUP's funds would come from Birlinn and 70 per cent from Dundee.

Birlinn's annual turnover is £2 million, thanks in part to the international success of the novels by Alexander McCall Smith, professor of medical law at Edinburgh University.

David Duncan, Dundee's secretary and chair of the board of directors, said:

"By forming this unique partnership, we believe we have created a winning formula for DUP, bringing together the university's strong academic base with Birlinn's dynamism in publishing.

"John Tuckwell's reputation and experience in the publication of more than 500 books adds a further important ingredient to the DUP mix. This is a bold venture but not a dreamy one. DUP has a robust business plan and will be as hard headed as it will be academically stimulating."

DUP's launch follows market research funded by Scottish Enterprise Tayside that indicated opportunities at home and abroad for such a publisher.

The first title under the DUP imprint is particularly timely. The Architecture of Scottish Government: From Kingship to Parliamentary Democracy, edited by Miles Glendinning, was launched a week after the official opening of the new Holyrood parliament building.

olga.wojtas@thes.co.uk


LEADING UK UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING HOUSES

Cambridge University Press
The world's oldest printing and publishing house, it produced its first book in 1584. Now publishes more than 2,000 books and 150 journals a year.

Oxford University Press
Now a department of Oxford University, it dates back to the 17th century, when it won the right to print the King James Authorised Version of the Bible. It is the largest university press in the world, bringing out more than 4,500 new books a year.

Edinburgh University Press
Founded more than 50 years ago, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of the university in 1992. It specialises in the humanities and social sciences. Publishes about 30 journals.

Liverpool University Press
Founded in 1899. Publishes not only academic books and journals in history, literature, art and architecture, but also science fiction and works of local interest.

Manchester University Press
Celebrating its centenary with a sale of 5 hardback titles. Core is in the humanities and social sciences. Publishes nine journals.

University of Birmingham Press
Publishes an average of 12 books a year, primarily in the humanities and social sciences.

University of Exeter Press
Subject of a management buyout earlier this year. Specialises in the university's key subject areas including classical studies, European literature, film history, performance studies and archaeology.

University of Hertfordshire Press
Founded in 1992. Publishes about 12 titles a year, specialising in Europe's Roman literature and drama and regional and local history.

University of Wales Press
Established in 1922. Publishes nearly 60 new titles a year in both in English and Welsh, including philosophy and religious studies, and Welsh and Celtic studies.

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