i n s t i t u t i o n a l  m e m o r y

part 1 / part 2

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Katherine McNamara

“I come back to this: the writing. You’ve got to look at the writing.”

In this third conversation with notable literary publishers, I talked with William Strachan, director of Columbia University Press, formerly editor-in-chief at Henry Holt, who had taken the rare step of crossing over from trade to academic publishing, and who thought in an interesting way about those two not wholly compatible domains: about what they had in common and what they did not. Furthermore, Columbia had taken up e-publishing, producing several CD-ROMs and sponsoring the first of what it hopes will become a series of scholarly journals published on the internet. Yet, while technology entered the discussion of institutional changes in publishing which has been the theme of this series, it did not dominate; as would be expected, the making of good books — writerly writing, editorial acuity, the publisher’s willingness to take a chance, and readers wanting to read — was the real subject.

It has been remarked that “publishing,” in the old sense, perhaps, of the gentleman’s occupation, began to change about the time the phrase “publishing industry” came into use, around the mid-1970s. If true, it marks nicely the beginning of changes I’ve been interested in tracing. Substantially, however, what has changed? Are there fewer good books, more bad, than ever? Is the art of editing no longer widely practiced in the trade? How can we speak of publishing “houses” in this era of conglomeration? What sorts of people became editors and publishers; why? Do the same sorts run the business now? I had been inquiring of distinguished representatives of an older generation what they thought; now, a fellow member of the baby boom, generation of the Sixties, had something to say.

Generously, these persons have told how they entered the profession; spoken about writers they’ve published and declined to publish; described the (changing) class structure of their domain; talked straight about money, commerce, and corporate capitalism; preferred “responsible” publishing: the mid-sized company that may, increasingly, be a “refuge.” Without exception, they are serious readers, usually of more than one language. They recognize that times have changed. They speak with wary-friendly observation of the generations coming up.

Excerpts of these conversations will continue to appear regularly in ARCHIPELAGO and may serve as an opening into an institutional memory contrasting itself with the current corporate structure, reflecting on glories of its own, revealing what remains constant amid the present flux. Despite their surround of gentility, these publishers are strong-minded characters engaged with their historical circumstances. Out of that engagement have appeared a number of books that we can say, rightly, belong to literature.


See also:

A Conversation with Marion Boyars, Vol. 1 No. 3
A Conversation with Cornelia and Michael Bessie, Vol. 1 No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1


William Strachan, Director, Columbia University Press

William Strachan said of himself, with the self-effacement of a certain sort of editor, that he had joined “the accidental profession”; an amateur in the good, old sense? No, a generalist educated in the liberal arts, characteristic of a good part of a generation for whom schooling was not job-training. He graduated from Carleton College, an excellent small college in Minnesota, then took the Radcliffe Publishing Course, from which he emerged, in 1970, as an editorial secretary at Anchor Books. Having discovered what kind of books he wanted to publish, he moved on to various houses, was editor-in-chief at Henry Holt, and joined Columbia in mid-1998. He is tall and looks fit, though his once-lanky frame (you feel) is filling out with middle age, and dresses in not-too-new, tweedy-casual clothes. The offices of Columbia University Press, where he is director, are located in utilitarian rooms in a college building undergoing renovations, on W. 113th Street in Morningside Heights. The receptionist reports a visitor and, when she hears footsteps pounding lightly downstairs from the second floor, says, not wholly approving, “That’s Bill: never takes the formal way” (i.e., the elevator) “when he can run.” Seated behind his desk, his back to the distractions of Broadway below the window, he is cordial, discreetly gossiping (has recently returned from the Frankfurt Book Fair), very much the director (still testing his way) of a very respectable publishing company. His speech evokes distant seminar rooms and is without personal reference, respectful of its elders, perceptive, aware of what it now also knows, sounding with a modesty that is never false.

Several themes recurred during our two conversations in New York, last October and November: writerly non-fiction, its importance and nourishment; how one tried to make sense of the great shifts in the culture; e-publishing (novelty for a former trade publisher); and, unexpected pleasure, the tastes of generations, ours-in-common in particular. “Writerly non-fiction” is Strachan’s admirable phrase, neatly leaping over reams of self-involved “creative” genres; privately, I thought it worth stealing. Aloud, I wondered how the transition from trade to university press impressed him and asked if he would begin by describing the differences between those two kinds of institutions.


For a certain kind of publishing, this may be a refuge


KATHERINE McNAMARA: What do you do as a publisher: what is the job of a publisher, as you conceive it?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Well, I think you run a publishing company. First and foremost, we have to remember that we are publishers. Some of publishing is printing, some of it is distribution and the like; but, by and large, it means finding the books that you want to publish, then making sure that they are seen all the way through to publication, and then giving them full service.

My role as chief executive is to make those decisions about the company. There are all sorts of decisions you make, because there are a lot of ways to spend your money, and a lot of priorities. Most of what, I guess, falls to me is to establish those priorities, the hierarchy of those priorities: to make some decisions, not only about what comes first, but how we go about doing something, what the strategy might be. Where you’re going to go with the press down the line. Are we going to go wholesale into electronic publishing? or are we going to say, “No, that’s not what we want to do, we don’t have that sort of money, or go into those areas of publishing.”

KATHERINE McNAMARA: So you came over here.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: So I came over here, and here we are.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Maybe the topic is culture shock.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, I went from seeing this as not so different, to seeing this as a completely different world, to saying, No, this is different and this isn’t. Part of the confusion, if you will, in my mind, is the fact that I am still living in New York City. The people I see at the cocktail parties, the people I fraternize with, are those I used to see. And so one is tempted to think there isn’t a difference — “Oh, I just needed to change offices.” That, of course, is not true. The adjustment would have been greater had I left; as Peter Gazardi left Crown, to go to Duke: he went to become the editor-in-chief at Duke, and was out of the realm. But suddenly you are really in the world of a university press community. I’m not sure I would have gone to any other university press.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: I’ve been interested in the view, from inside, of the institutional changes in publishing over the last decade: what they are; how they affect the work you do; and, equally, how the work you do affects the institution. That is, how do people act in and upon the institution of publishing? Would you talk about your own experience, having gone from trade publishing, or what might be called corporate publishing now, to the university press?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Sure. For me, the switch from trade or commercial publishing — better put, from corporate publishing — to a university press was an idea I had, to somehow recreate what trade publishing was when I started in 1970. I am now working, at Columbia, for an independent publisher which is owned and operated without conglomeration with any other publisher.

That used to be the case all around this town of New York. What are now different imprints within houses, were, once, publishing houses, free-standing and, in most cases, independent. That’s been a rather remarkable change in publishing, though maybe necessary. Actually, I guess I should back up a little. That has been a change in New York publishing; I don’t think it’s been quite the case outside this city. But if, as many people do, you define commercial publishing by what goes on in New York, then that’s the change in publishing.

People are fond of pointing to all the new independent publishers that have jumped up. That being the case, I don’t think for the most part they have had the effect on book publishing that commercial publishing has had on the general trade. I don’t think there’s the replication of what existed here. And that’s interesting, because, given the way business has changed, they should have had an effect. But the distribution system is concentrated; it’s much easier now to get to all the different book outlets than it ever was 20 years ago, when you had so many independent bookstores. You now have Amazon.com. You have all these wide-angled changes in distribution, but I don’t think the small publishers have the penetration that they might have risen to have. What I hope we have here is a sort of moderate or smallish independent publishing house. I like that scale of operation; it works for me; and I like to see what we can effect with that. For a certain kind of publishing, the kind I’m interested in, this may be a refuge.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Will you say more about the kind of publishing you’re interested in?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: I was raised up in non-fiction, basically. I started at Anchor books in 1970, which Jason Epstein had started, back in the ’50s. At that point, it was still one of the few trade paperback publishers, along with the Vintage list; and it was fun, because that was the ’70s, and it was the turn of the paperback revolution. It was going to change the world; half of our list was academic publishing, in a sense, and half of it was ‘cutting edge’. What was new went into trade paperbacks.

I cut my teeth on non-fiction, and I stayed with that throughout my career, going from Anchor books in 1980, to what was then The Viking Press. The desire there was to move into hard-cover publishing, and what I looked at changed. At Anchor, you thought up ideas for books, or people came to you with one-shot books, and you did them in paperbacks, and you sort of went on to the next book.

But at Viking, what I hoped to do was to develop some of the writers who had been doing non-fiction, book in and book out. Alan Williams, who was there at the time, said we published authors, not books. That was the philosophy of The Viking Press, and it was a nice change. It had recently been sold to Penguin — what was then Penguin — although at that point it was a separate entity. Well, the twain met, a little, but they were editorially independent even though they worked under the same roof. Penguin then was owned by Pearson, and it still is. [The publishing conglomerate is larger and now called Penguin Putnam Group.] But at that point, curiously, Penguin wasn’t as renowned in this country as it was in the U. K., and it was still growing up under Kathryn Court, who was the editorial director then. So I stayed with non-fiction. I can count on maybe ten fingers the number of novels I’ve done over the history of my career. That’s what interested me about Columbia, and about university presses, which, by and large, are non-fiction publishers.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Who are some of these authors you published with Viking?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Witold Rybczynski, whom I first published at Anchor Books, in a paperback original, and then brought over to Viking, where I did his next several books. I edited people like Marc Reisner (CADILLAC DESERT) and Gretel Ehrlich (THE SOLACE OF OPEN SPACES). Writerly non-fiction.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: I like that: ‘writerly’ non-fiction.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: So. I went on from Viking, to Houghton Mifflin, in the new York office [corporate headquarters were in Boston], to what was then Weidenfeld & Nicolson, before ending up at Holt, in 1990, where I was editor-in-chief. And now this. The idea that university presses publish non-fiction is interesting; and I think, you know, we can bring some of my trade there, although running the press leaves much less time to be an editor, which is a change.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: But you do still edit?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, and probably once I settle into this job a little bit more — I came over to Columbia in June 1997 — I might have some more time to do it, rather than to figure out where everything lies in the hierarchy.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Holt was going through some changes as well, when you left. [It was bought by the German publishing company Holtzbrink.]

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Holt has gone through some changes, and continues to go through some changes, yes. That company is part of Holtzbrink, the German publishing conglomerate, which here owns Farrar, Straus and St. Martins, Scientific American, and a number of other outfits. I think they have to figure out where Holt fits into that conglomeration.

We don’t have those confusions here, which is very nice.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: A look of relief is on your face.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Well, I’ve seen this time and time again with my colleagues in publishing, where you sign on to do a certain kind of publishing, and the house is going in a certain direction, and over the years the changes haven’t come at the bottom, they’ve come at the top. A new administration, or a new ownership, or whatever, comes in and, suddenly, what you were supposed to be doing, or what you were doing, very happily, is no longer very desirable or wanted or rewarded. That makes it very hard to make a long-term commitment to writers. I think it’s the longer-term continuity that works best for writers, and for publishers, as well. Obviously, there are exceptions; but I think that is how a publishing house gets its character: how it builds a stable and works with writers: over a long period of time.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: If they still care about that.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: If they still care about that. I don’t know that they need to. I think they do. It works better, I think, if you push a house: “This is what we know to publish, and this is who we publish; and therefore, if you’re a kindred spirit, or you like that, then we know how to publish you well.”


The business has changed, but so has the culture


KATHERINE McNAMARA: I was trying to place a book, a non-fiction narrative, and asked a poet for advice, as I had had some difficulty with it. I carried on for quite a while about this, until he said, very simply, “Why don’t you just give it to a good publisher, and let it go?” I stopped in my tracks. There was nothing I could say. Books are turned down all the time for reasons that have nothing to do with literature as I know it. He was from two generations before me and had no idea of the kinds of difficulties serious writers face now from publishers.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: No, the business has changed a lot: but so has the culture, and that’s what’s hard to figure out in publishing today. I’m not sure where you place yourself in the culture — I was thinking about this — because the idea of reading and books, if you will, used to be kind of divorced from other parts of the culture. You had movies, you had books or literature, you had drama, and increasingly—

KATHERINE McNAMARA: And there was a hierarchy.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, and increasingly these things are blurred. There’s plenty of book stuff on TV. There is plenty of book stuff on the internet, god knows, and there are wonderful magazines. All this blurring, or mixing, we’re still sorting out, but it’s had an enormous effect on what you publish, and how you publish it. I think the books published by the larger commercial publishers are seen now as entertainment. I mean that not just pejoratively, because the best, most wonderful book in the world is supposed to be entertainment, you know, the highest literature is wonderfully entertaining to a certain audience. I haven’t sorted it out yet. I don’t think anybody really has, and can say, “This is why we’re publishing” this or that book. What is getting drowned out is the idea of quality entertainment, if you will; but, again, I say that too quickly, because the flip side of it is that, actually, what’s succeeding in the trade is either a very high quality in books, still, or a kind of mass-marketing entertainment.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: So once again the mid-list...

WILLIAM STRACHAN: The middle falls away. People don’t know quite what to make of it. It’s not either literature or, quote, entertainment, unquote.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: And the difficulty abut the shrinking of the mid-list is that was a standard of good writing.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, it was, and is, a standard of good writing. It’s also the kind of proving ground, or developing ground, for many writers. You do one book; you do another; you keep writing, you keep publishing, you suddenly have an oeuvre, something’s going on. People don’t know what to do about that right now.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: You mean, publishers don’t.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Publishers don’t. They don’t know how to support it. You as a writer have to make it very quickly, in a book or two, so that you’re not consigned to the scrap-heap. In today’s climate, it’s harder and harder to get attention for that mid-list; it just goes unappreciated, it’s not championed and it’s not recognized. Even if you get good reviews, the response is, “So what?”

But that’s conglomerate publishing, too. One of the changes in the book world is that, when the houses were independent, you saw yourself saying: “This is the list, this is what we’re publishing; and we’ll make some money off of these books, and that will allow us to publish others.” It sounds strange, now. But it was thought of that way. When I started at Doubleday, which Anchor was part of, we had the same publishing board. It was one of the first corporate publishing boards; you went to it every week. But you still said about a book, “This is part of the list.”

I watched that change to P&L [profit and loss] statements. Suddenly, there was this idea that every book had to be profitable! No longer was it that you balanced the list; now you balanced the profitability of the company not on the back of a list, but on the back of every book! If you look at it that way, it won’t work: I mean, 90 percent of books still lose money. Even if you were trying not to, that practice changed the way you looked at books. Completely. You didn’t say, “Yes, but it fits in, we just have to publish this writer because it’s part of our commitment to him,” or “part of the list,” or whatever. That affected the mid-list as well. You had people kidding themselves, either knowingly or with rose-colored glasses, saying, “Oh this isn’t a mid-list book,” when everybody should have admitted that it was. I think that changed things too. Very odd, but true.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: An English editor told me he showed the conversation I had with Michael and Cornelia Bessie to several of his colleagues, and they were all amazed: Michael talked about how they used to publish books with no P&Ls.You don’t have to have them here at Columbia?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: We do P&Ls at Columbia. But as a tool, a sort of snapshot; that’s how they started out, of course. The interesting thing about a P&L is that it will reveal to me, sometimes, that, for all this sturm und drang, all this effort, at the end of the day we’re going to make 35 cents. Well, maybe it’s not worth all the effort. Or, at least, you’re thinking: “Just what we are getting into?” What we do here is, after you’ve done a P&L, if it doesn’t work, you still have the right to say, very nicely, “Yes, we know it doesn’t work financially, but we wanted to publish this book,” for whatever reason. Commercial publishers do this as well, of course, sometimes. We have another advantage, however, which is being a not-for-profit organization. It’s easier for me to say that here than at some other places.


Categories, ‘product’, and the economics of independent publishing


KATHERINE McNAMARA: Now, I wonder if we can think in two directions for a moment. They’ll have to be serial, not parallel directions. One is, your very interesting statement about seeing a book differently once a P&L is attached to it: what does that mean for reading and for readership; even, if you want, for the work of the imagination? — We won’t touch the writer’s imagination here; let’s say, for the imagination as it makes it way through the trade editorial process.

The second is, What does it mean to be an independent, not-for-profit, but also academic press?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, which is a very different structure and with different constraints. Well, in a trade situation, with a work of imagination, you’re trying to catch that handle that will allow everyone to catch the same magic, the high concept that you see in it throughout. If you can get that, then there is no barrier to what you can do. I don’t think trade publishing is that tricky, and, in fact, sometimes it’s easier to do. An editor can say, “Oh boy, you just have to read this, it’s wonderful, it’s totally unique.” Or, “It’s just like something else that’s wonderful.” That’s fairly easy to do.

When you work for a publishing corporation or a publishing company that does things pretty much in lockstep, though, that is when you have to be able to categorize a book, because “we have to be able to sell it in a certain way,” or: “Where does it go in the bookstore?” This is not a bad question to ask yourself: “Where am I going to put this in a bookstore; how is the sales rep going to sell it?” But most of those aren’t surprises, you’ll have pigeonholed them very neatly. Again, a good editor can pigeonhole a book very neatly and sell it that way; and that works, but it’s harder.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: In its way, it’s another kind of mid-list.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes; yes, it is. Very much. Because if it’s not bought as a bestseller or a blockbuster — because then you can do these rote things for it — but rather, it’s interesting, then it makes you concentrate more, as an editor, on how you’re going to publish the book; not simply saying, “Well, we’ll just put ’em out there and see what happens.”

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Is that the old way they did it?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: I think there was enough of it that we just didn’t have to worry, because certain automatic mechanisms could take over. A certain number of books would be bought by the public libraries, which would snap up three to five thousand copies no matter what you did, if you had a good library sales force; and then you got more on top of that, and it just rolled along. Those days are over, forever: sadly, in a way, because the library system isn’t capable of supporting the vast output of the trade anymore; but it does leave you, then, to think more carefully about what you’re publishing, and how you’re publishing it. And everybody still says too many books are published. That’s probably still true; but who’s ox are you goring when you say, “Cut this back”?

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Do you, in your mind, distinguish between what you think of as books and what you think of as...

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Product, if you will? No, yeah, I guess. Yeah.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Books, presumably, are what you want to publish, whereas product is what there is too much of.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: But someone’s books are someone else’s product; and vice versa, I guess.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: That’s not entirely true

WILLIAM STRACHAN: I don’t think it is, but when you turn a corner and you just say, “Product is book-selling; I know how to sell this book regardless of what’s in it,” or, you could sell it because it’s a genre, or because it’s a ‘brand name’, that sounds like a “product” to me.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Were book salesmen, though, like that when you knew them? Sales reps?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Sure. When I started at Doubleday, the idea was to have a bestseller every month. I mean, they did. They had Arthur Haley one month, they had Irving Stone the next; they had Phyllis Whitney; they had Allen Drury. That was a very profitable publishing company.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: And as those things went then, that was not bad writing.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: No. It was the bestseller house. Betty Prashker was then the editor-in-chief; Ken McCormick had just stepped down. The Doubleday family still owned it. It was a publishing Behemoth, on one hand, and a very savvy publisher, on the other. We used to joke then: if this company weren’t so busy making money, it would go out of business.

I think it’s come back to that in a way: you’ve got a machine that drives certain bestsellers, best-selling writers, and then everything else needs to catch on in their wake, or distinguish itself from them. Maybe we have come full circle. But it’s hard to distinguish the others from them, even though there are all theses new avenues in which to do so. The sound of the larger books drowns out the voice of the smaller ones.



We were talking about the idea of agent and submissions. Yes, we do get submissions from agents. I lost a book last week to Harvard, which Oxford, Columbia and Harvard were all considering and bid on. Harvard won out.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: You started out at $5,000 and went up to $20,000. What kind of advances are you able to pay?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Not what I once paid in the trade, clearly; but that removes a certain amount of pressure or expectation from the publication of the book. What I was going to say was, certainly we want to sell every copy we can, for both the author’s and our sakes. But I think expectations about what is going to happen when the book is published are kept within a certain frame. Scholarly people — most scholarly people — have a day job. Publication is not everything, or that “everything” that as a writer you’re riding on, with the disappointments, expectations, and the like; and that fact insulates everything a little bit. We pay advances, and we pay royalties, which is very nice.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Which means the advances are earning out.
WILLIAM STRACHAN: Right, the advances are earning out, which is another side of the world it’s nice to see. Royalty checks were few and far between after a certain point in trade publishing, because the advance had been all.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: When did you notice the advances starting to rise? And how did you stay in that game?
WILLIAM STRACHAN: I think the advances probably always rose. Look back at legendary stories of old: you know, the million dollar advance, back when. When I was at Doubleday, in the ’70s, I think the change came more or less then. In the early ’70s, Betty Prashker [then editor-in-chief] was fond of saying that the change came in when the Xerox machine came in, because that allowed multiple submissions.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Ah, of course; and, there were still plenty of publishers.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: I remember talking to Cork Smith [Charles M. Smith, a respected literary editor] about this at Viking in the early ’80s, and he said that old idea of actually “earning out” was being replaced by the phrase “You’re buying a book.” That’s what you’re doing now: you’re buying that book. It’s no longer, “Oh, we’ll give you an advance.” That changed drastically, and that really happened in the early ’80s. There was more money. The chains had expanded, so that you could sell many, many more copies of a hardcover book then you ever had before; this is still true. Doubleday was a house of bestsellers: 60,000 copies was a big sale. Now you’re looking at initial print runs of two million copies.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: But often, huge returns follow.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, but you’re capable of selling in excess of a million copies. Charles Frazier [COLD MOUNTAIN] sold a million and a half hardcover copies! That’s remarkable these days.


Do you have a problem with returns?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: No, we don’t. We are affected by returns, we have returns. The problem is ameliorated by the nature of what we publish. The good news is we don’t get returns; the bad news is that we don’t get that many books out, because bookstores buy in ones and twos, for representation, and then reorder; much more so than for trade books. Because we publish reference works, and expensive reference works, that keeps our rate of return down. You’re not going to order a $750 copy of THE COLUMBIA GAZETTEER on spec. You’re going to say, “We have a customer for it, we’ll order one.” That affects the percentage of returns. We’re running, oh, 18 to 19 percent, which is about half of what trade or commercial publishers are getting.


You’ve got to look at the writing


KATHERINE McNAMARA: How is university publishing different than you thought it would be?

WILLIAM STRACHAN: One of the big differences is, the writing; and the fact that we don’t publish fiction. But that’s peculiar to Columbia, because some other university presses do publish fiction. But the fact that you don’t have that writerly aspect around as part of the fabric of the house affects your non-fiction as well.

Again, I come back to this: the writing. You’ve got to look at the writing. That, partly, is what people are looking for. Part of it, too, is just that scholarship can carry the day, rather than, simply, the writing. So that’s one aspect that’s very different. I think the other aspect is this notion of peer review. The publications committee is a wonderful sounding board and helps us constantly, not so much as checks and balances, but by saying: “This is not, I’m here to tell you, the cutting edge!” That’s a very helpful expertise. Or, “If you’re going to do this, be aware of this, that, and the next thing.”

KATHERINE McNAMARA: Because you expect to publish the top of the list.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes; and that’s great. What I am not used to, or in full adjustment to, is that is that we can’t publish something that doesn’t have the stamp of approval of the publications committee. I’m just not used to operating that way as an editor. That was on your shoulders in commercial publishing. But when people say, “How do you get used to it?” I answer, “Yes, but you have to go ask your sales and marketing department. Can you publish something without having your sales and marketing department signing off on it?” Increasingly the answer to that is, “No.” I say, “Well, I can; but I have to go ask my publications committee.” That’s a different side of the process. I’d rather ask a publications committee.

KATHERINE McNAMARA: You’re in the same arena.

WILLIAM STRACHAN: Yes, it’s an editorially-inclined committee. I think that’s one of the nice things about this university press: it is still an editorially-driven publishing company. The genesis of what you’re doing springs from the editorial matter.



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