by Shaun Manning, Publications Sales and Exhibits Manager, University of Michigan Press.

What is your company’s history? What sets your company apart?

University of Michigan Press was founded in 1930, making 2020 our 90th anniversary year. Our disciplinary strength in political science and international relations continues to grow, with these areas now making up about 35% of our list. We also have a strong publishing program in classical studies, theater and performance, American studies, and Asian studies, as well as a unit dedicated to English Language Teaching. Throughout the 90 years of its existence, the Press has published materials in myriad formats, including records, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, and online editions, in addition to paperback and cloth editions. With the debut of Michigan Publishing’s Fulcrum platform in 2018, the Press continues to innovate to bring out the full richness of its authors’ research in a durable, discoverable, accessible, and flexible form.


How does your product compare to other products?

In addition to publishing leading authors in our core disciplines, University of Michigan Press is dedicated to meeting the needs of its readers. The University of Michigan Press is committed to making its publications and electronic media accessible to the broadest possible audience. Our vision is to make the University of Michigan Press an accessible publishing organization: producing accessible publications, implementing accessible systems, and effecting change among our peers and partners by maintaining a high standard of accessibility.

With classes moving online or to hybrid formats in the 2020-21 academic year, the library-focused University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection (UMP EBC) offers an opportunity for colleges and universities to provide equitable access to required and assigned readings throughout their campuses.


How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you and your organization? Do you have any important insights that you have learned in the past year?

The entire staff of University of Michigan Press has been working from home since March, and we’re expected to continue to do so at least through January. So that’s a change! But beyond that, we’ve moved to make our publishing processes more agile to account for arising and unexpected needs. For example, when our warehouse closed for several weeks early in the pandemic, we were able to maintain availability for a large portion of our paperback and hardcover titles through print on demand, and prioritized moving more titles into digital printing to support this.

Even with print editions available, though, we have seen buying patterns move strongly toward digital. That’s ok! We want to support readers in accessing the vital research of University of Michigan Press titles in their preferred format.


What is a problem that your customers have? Do you have any solutions to help?

In the research community, many of our customers are also authors, and our authors are also customers of other works within their discipline. One need our authors had expressed was a durable location to store their scholarly outputs that cannot live within a book, while linking their publication to these resources. University of Michigan Press provides this within the open source Fulcrum platform. Fulcrum offers users the ability to publish and to read books with associated digital enhancements, such as 3-D models, embedded audio, video, and databases; zoomable online images, and interactive media.


Myth vs. Fact Feature

When I started at the Press ten years ago, I encountered a number of scholars concerned that University of Michigan Press planned to stop producing print editions of its scholarly titles. This rumor has persisted over the years. This was not the case at the time, nor is it now. It’s true that we made an early effort to digitize as much of our 3000-title backlist as possible, and have produced innovative digital products including the interactive archaeological model A Mid-Republican House from Gabii and A.D. Carson’s scholarly hip-hop “mixtap/e/ssay” i used to love to dream, which do not have print components. But we remain committed to publishing any of our titles that can be a book, as a book, and that includes print editions.


Shaun Manning is Publications Sales and Exhibits Manager for University of Michigan Press.
Twitter: @UofMPress