When the University Press of New England shuttered at the end of 2018, the region lost a unique publishing consortium with a diverse backlist that drew its collective strength from the specialization of its member presses. But UPNE’s backlist is not gone. Instead, it has been acquired by Brandeis University Press, which plans to use the titles to support its own expansion into some genres that have been underserved since UPNE’s closure.
The acquisition was finalized earlier this year, and includes sole ownership of UPNE’s titles and copyrights, which more than doubles BUP’s list to 700 books in-print. Dartmouth College, where UPNE was located, had co-managed the list with BUP for the previous two years and will retain sole ownership of UPNE titles published under the Dartmouth College Press.
BUP is widely recognized for their specialization in books on Jewish Studies, but press director Sue Berger Ramin said the publisher is actively adding books with a New England focus, as well as titles with a broad reach in the humanities and social sciences. “The UPNE list extends BUP’s reach in all these areas,” Ramin said.
BUP’s spring list reflects the expanded mission for the press. It includes Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them by the City of Boston’s archaeologist, Joe Bagley, as well as Ducks on Parade! by Nancy Schön, who created the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in Boston’s Public Garden. The press will also publish Pain and Shock in America by Jan Nisbet, which draws on the university’s longstanding roots in disability scholarship.
Ramin intends to keep as many of the newly acquired UPNE titles in print as possible and said that her next task is to go through them in order to update and repackage some for re-release. Already, BUP has tested this approach with a handful of titles, including Georgia O’Keeffe, A Life by Roxana Robinson; Bark, A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast by Michael Wojtech; and Vulture, The Private Life of an Unloved Bird by Katie Fallon.
“We have found that by publishing a new edition with new material, with a new publisher and ISBN, it gives them a whole new life,” Ramin said. As part of BUP’s growth in trade titles, Ramin is also focusing on particular titles where author events are possible.
By the end of April, BUP’s extensive steps to reorganize will also have a public-facing home on a brandeisuniversitypress.com website, which will include author events and the entire list of available UPNE backlist titles.