A modest benefit of our ‘interesting’ times is that the world of ideas is flourishing. This is good news for readers – all the books, the explosion of interesting things to read online – and for the publishers who care about ideas.Feeding the demand for understanding was the thinking behind my own modest publishing effort, the LPP Perspectives series.
It is very cheering to see some university presses responding to the demand among the wider public, not just academics, for serious thought. And what’s more, some are thriving on it too. I wrote about this after the last meeting of Princeton University Press’s European Advisory Board, of which I’m a member. Today and yesterday there has been the first conference in the UK organised by the Association of American University Presses, with many UK university presses participating, as well as American ones. This includes a brand new UK university press, Goldsmiths Press – who sent me this week one of their first titles which looks a must read for all disgruntled (ie. all) British academics, Les Back’s.
[amazon_image id=”1906897581″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Academic Diary: Or Why Higher Education Still Matters[/amazon_image]
As a recent article in the Bookseller points out, times are challenging for university presses, caught between the rough and tumble of commercial publishing and the rough and tumble of higher education. But I agree with the conclusion that these are good times for publishers encouraging the public engagement of scholars – perhaps precisely because they are not such good times for the world. People are demanding debate and there is a responsibility on academics, and their publishers, to supply reason and evidence amid the demagoguery out there.