Wednesday, March 9, 2011

University Press Imprints

Randall Stephens

I just got word from Harvard University Press that my forthcoming book, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, co-authored with Karl Giberson, will be part of the press's Belknap Press imprint. We're elated!

I've always noticed that certain books with HUP list "The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press." Oxford University Press has its Clarendon Press imprint. Though other than the fact that good books come under the banner of various imprints, I didn't know much else about how all this works. Max Hall explains the role of Belknap in his Harvard University Press: A History (Harvard University Press, 1986):

"What is the Belknap Press?" People ask this, sometimes mistakenly voicing the silent "k." The answer: it is an imprint, identifying the books whose costs are paid out of Belknap funds and whose sales receipts are plowed back into Belknap working capital after the parent body has deducted a share for its operating expenses-so percent until 1976, when it was raised to 60. The Belknap Press has no separate staff, only separate accounts. Waldron Belknap himself supplied the name, specifying that the income from his bequest was to
be used for "publishing activities, under the name of the Belknap Press, of the Harvard University Press." . . .

In the will Belknap said that it was his intention "that the relationship of the Belknap Press to the Harvard University Press shall be as closely analogous as may be to the present relationship of the publishing activities of the Clarendon Press to the Oxford University Press." The Clarendon Press imprint was known for books of long-lasting importance, superior in scholarship and physical production, chosen whether or not they might be profitable. Those principles were adopted for the Belknap Press. At first, when the funds were just a trickle, the subject matter was confined to Belknap's own main interests, American history and civilization, but the benefactor imposed no restrictions and in 1961 the scope was expanded to all fields. (140-41)

There are a variety of imprints and series at University Presses. When shopping your MS around it's always a good idea to know what a particular press specializes in. What series will be the best fit for your book? A smaller press like Mercer University Press has wonderful series on religion in the South, Kierkegaard studies, and biblical studies. Whether you are working on Native American history, Medieval devotionalism, or 20th-century military history it's always a good idea to do some real investigating in order to find the press that would best suit your work.

1 comment:

hcr said...

Congrats, Randall!