The University Press of New England’s Board of Governors has voted to close the press at the end of 2018. The Lebanon, N.H.-based press has 25 employees and distributes books for Dartmouth and Brandeis University. In a statement, Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon said, “The press has become unsustainable to operate with only two member-institutions.”
Founded in 1970 as the University Press of Northern New England, the consortium was originally led by longtime publisher and Dartmouth alum Victor Reynolds. Under Reynolds, it grew to include members from all six New England states and was renamed the University Press of New England (UPNE).
By the early aughts, the press counted consortium members from Northeastern University, University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, and Tufts University among its ranks. The 2008 recession dealt a substantial financial blow to the institution but even as the number of members dwindled to two, the press appeared to rebound.
In 2012-2013, UPNE posted their highest earnings since 2006-2007. They continued to distribute nearly two dozen presses and added a trade imprint, ForeEdge Books. Among the books published or distributed by UPNE were works by Howard Frank Mosher, Chris Bohjalian, Heather McHugh, and Rae Armantrout.
The closure does not appear to spell the end for the Dartmouth or Brandeis presses. According to UPNE’s statement, Dartmouth is appointing a study group to explore next steps to continue the university’s list. Matthew Sheehy, who is university librarian at Brandeis told PW, “We have been talking to potential partners and are excited by the prospects of continuing to support the scholarship and perhaps even grow the program.”