Charles Backus, director of Vanderbilt University Press in Nashville since 1993, will become the fifth director of Texas A&M University Press, in College Station, on September 1. He succeeds Tom Rotell, who retired on May 31, after four years as director there and a 42-year career in both trade and scholarly publishing.

Backus's résumé includes stints as acquisitions editor at University Press of New England and director of Syracuse University Press. At Vanderbilt, he revived a press that had been administratively placed on hold prior to his arrival. Under his leadership, VUP established notable series in American philosophy, higher education issues and Hispanic and Latin American studies, as well as a cooperative line with Nashville's Country Music Foundation Press.

Backus is leaving a press with a staff of five, a backlist of fewer than 100 titles and a current 16-title frontlist for one with a full-time staff of 22, a backlist of nearly 550 titles and a yearly frontlist of 50 -- 60 new entries. Annual sales at Texas A&M, according to marketing manager Gayla Christiansen, are in the $1.5 million range. When sales of the 625 titles warehoused in College Station for the 10 other complementing Texas publishers in the TAMUP Consortium are factored in, that figure jumps to $3.2 million.

Backus will also arrive at an unusually well-endowed press that's just beginning its 25th anniversary celebration. The celebration's centerpiece is A Bookmark, TAM history professor Henry C. Dethloff's chronicle of the press since its founding by Frank