Monday, October 30, 2023

University Press Week Advocates For Publishing More BIPOC Books


Do university presses and trade book publishers need to do more to publish and promote scholarly works that give voice to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community — as well as to other previously unheralded voices? 

The Association of University Presses certainly believes a lot more still needs to be done in this area.  

AUP’s University Press Week (Nov. 12-18) is celebrating diversity this year. Over 100 university press publications are being showcased, to highlight scholarly works on activism, social justice, climate change, Black studies, gender studies, poetry, Indigenous studies, and other groups perceived to have been understated in the book publishing world. 

Jane Frances Bunker, the 73rd president of Association of University Presses, directs Cornell University Press. She was interviewed by Book Marketing Buzz Blog recently. 

She said her goal is to grow the success of university presses, especially to make scholarship more visible and to get more attention for the views and experiences of under-voiced communities. Though she agrees things have improved in publishing over the past decade, much more needs to be done in this area. 

Unfortunately, Bunker did not provide access to current data as it relates to the critical issues that the Association of University Presses is strongly advocating on behalf of. For instance, no figures were shared on the following (I am not so sure they exist): 

* What percentage of authors are BIPOC today? Five years ago? Ten?

* Is there a priority order of where BIPOC shortages exist — is it gender, race, disabled, Indigenous, or other?

* What percentage of professors, primarily the pool of people from whom acquisitions editors draw authors from, is BIPOC? What was it 10 years ago? Five? 

It is hard to improve what is not measured, but her point generally resonates instinctually with most people that BIPOC-themed books and authors have been underrepresented. What percentage of published titles are they trying to achieve and how will they know if they have arrived at it? This is not clear.

The book publishing industry at large is disproportionately white and female, according to surveys published by Publishers Weekly, The New York Times, and This means the type of books that are greenlit, edited, marketed, promoted, and sold are done so without enough representation from Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, Indigenous, and men.

“The fact that this year's selection of publications covers such diverse topics and so many interesting new perspectives speaks to the importance of what we as university presses do every day,” says Bunker.  

“University presses aim to tell new stories and bring new scholarship to light, and that, in turn, can shape conversations around the world. Our publications are telling the kinds of stories that need to be told." 

This year's featured works come, according to AUP, from 85 publishers across the United States, seven in Canada, and four in the United Kingdom, as well as university presses in Jamaica, South Africa, Ireland, Belgium, Egypt and Greece. 

In addition to highlighting these specific publications, University Press Week, now in its 12th year, will also celebrate the many ways in which university presses are speaking up by presenting these works in an online gallery, featuring a selection of blog entries, and presenting in-person as well as virtual author events at bookstores around the country. For more information, see: and #SpeakUp.

More About the Association of University Presses

AUPresses is an organization of 160 international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, the Association of University Presses advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds intellectual freedom, integrity, stewardship, and diversity and inclusion as core values. AUPresses members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing.


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  

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