As the Association of American University Presses prepares to celebrate a milestone 75th birthday at its upcoming annual conference in Chicago, June 18–20, university press leaders are sure to have a long list of birthday wishes. Even the AAUP’s own conference description refuses to soft-pedal the tenuous state of affairs facing academic publishing, acknowledging the “collision of crumbling business models and revolutionary innovation.” Yet there is hope. Even as some long-held traditions and practices “go up in flames,” the conference description goes on to declare, there are “sparks of opportunity.”

After an eventful past month, however, it’s hard not to get caught watching the flames—especially at the University of Missouri Press, where, on May 24, university administrators unexpectedly announced plans to shutter the 54-year-old publisher. The decision has drawn outrage from the scholarly publishing community, and intense criticism of UM president Tim Wolfe.

The University of Missouri Press will surely be on the minds of AAUP members, as will a host of complicated issues. Included in a packed AAUP program are sessions on some hot topics facing academic publishing.:

Tuesday, June 19

9–10:15 a.m.

Patron-Driven Acquisition from the Publisher’s Point of View: Report from a Mellon-Funded Study

Patron-Driven Access, a library model under which books are only purchased, or “rented,” when a patron requests access, has garnered significant attention in recent years. This panel will discuss an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded study on the impact of PDA on book publishers, and university presses in particular.

Chair: Terry Ehling, associate director, content development, Project MUSE. Panelists: Rick Anderson, University of Utah Libraries; Joe Esposito, publishing consultant


Beyond E-books: Scholarly Publishing in the Digital Age

No question, new technologies are fundamentally changing scholarly publishing. As scholars, research methods, and results move beyond the concept of a page—print or electronic—how must publishers adapt? This session will explore the “opportunities and barriers involved in leveraging technology to advance scholarly publishing in a new age of interactive, dynamic, collaborative, linked content.”

Chair: David Schiffman, director of digital publishing, Yale University Press. Panelists: Marguerite Avery, senior acquisitions editor, MIT Press; Sylvia Miller, project director, “Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement,” University of North Carolina Press.

The Future of Tenure and Promotion

This may well be the fundamental issue facing scholarly publishing. How have digital projects and e-books changed what will count for career advancement? What is the university press’s role in that process?

Chair: Henry L. Carrigan Jr., assistant director and senior editor, Northwestern University Press. Panelists: Patrick Alexander, director, Penn State University Press; Ellen McClure, Department of French and Francophone Studies, University of Illinois–Chicago; Brian McGrath, assistant professor and associate chair, Department of English, Clemson University.

1:45–3 p.m.

Plenary 1: Federal Mandates and Open Access

Much in the news of late, this “lively discussion” will focus on measures like the Research Works Act (RWA), the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPA), and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

Chair: Peter Givler, executive director, AAUP. Panelists: Tom Allen, president, Association of American Publishers; Sarah M. Pritchard, dean of libraries, Northwestern University; John C. Vaughn, executive vice president, Association of American Universities.

5–6 p.m.

Free, but Not Easy

This panel will address some of the key issues surrounding open access and other efforts to make scholarly and textbook content more freely available, including business models for sustainability.

Chairs: Meredith Morris-Babb, director, University Press of Florida; David Harris, editor-in-chief, Connexions, Rice University; Barbara Kline Pope, director, National Academies Press.

Wednesday, June 20

9–10:15 a.m.

Policy Wars: University Presses in the Crossfire

Battles over the Research Works Act, SOPA, PIPA, and now the reintroduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act are a continuation of increasing battles over access to scholarly research and content. Where might presses build alliances and how can they handle friction with faculty, libraries, and administrators?

Chair: Allison Muddit, director, University of California Press. Panelists: Ivy Anderson, director, collection development and management, California Digital Library; James Evans, assistant professor of sociology, University of Chicago; Ellen Faran, director, MIT Press; Janet Rabinowitch, director, University of Indiana Press.

3:30–4:45 p.m.

The Georgia State Decision: Implications for Publishers

Need we say more? In this session Linda Steinman, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine (and AAUP’s regular outside counsel), discusses the court’s recent fair use analysis, the issues facing the plaintiffs as they decide whether to appeal, and the broader ramifications of the decision.

Chair: Linda Steinman, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.