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 Tuesday, May 27, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Publishing for the academy: University Press of Colorado
by Melanie O. Massengale

University Press of Colorado, located in Boulder, is a publisher of scholarly books. A nonprofit cooperative enterprise partially supported by Adams State College, Colorado State University, Fort Lewis College, Mesa State College, Metropolitan State College of Denver, University of Northern Colorado, and Western State College of Colorado as well as by the University of Colorado, the press is in its 43rd year of operation.

It all started with when "CU needed a real university press to help stimulate faculty research and writing," according to Darrin Pratt, University Press's director since 2000. In August 1965, the Colorado Associated University Press (CAUP) incorporated with CU, CSU, Colorado State College and Fort Lewis College as the original consortium members. Publishing under the CAUP imprint commenced in 1970 and through much of the 1980s, the booklist remained modest with production holding steady at three to five books per year.

In the last two decades, University Press changed its name and underwent a period of rapid growth, producing a broad and varied list of titles and expanding from 10-15 books per year in 1988 to a high of 35 in 2000. "We were overextended and needed to direct our attention to specific academic subjects. We found that a focused identity brings in more projects," Pratt said.

Another challenge was funding issues that had dogged the press from its inception. Initially supported by Colorado General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee, University Press drew subsidies from its member institutions beginning in the late 1980s. Today, the press realizes 75 percent of its revenues from publishing.

Pratt has in recent years guided publication increasingly toward the niche markets of anthropology, Rocky Mountain history and natural history. "We are consciously developing a strong regional identity while concentrating on our core mission of publishing titles vetted by peer scholars," he said. Currently, University Press publishes 25 titles a year.

The recent stabilizing period has been fruitful. Pratt points to titles that enjoy success with several targeted audiences, including Listening to Cougar edited by CU professor emeritus Marc Bekoff and Cara Blessley Lowe. "It's a crossover book that has scientific content but is also a general interest book," he said.

Pratt most enjoys his work with the authors. "My favorite task is sending the author one of the ten advance copies of the book along with a note of thanks; it's the best part of the job, the end of a journey," he said. The book is often the culmination of four or five years of work, from the project's germination to the final edits of a manuscript.

The feeling is mutual according to Marc Bekoff, whose Listening to Cougar was completed between 2006 and 2007. "Working with Darrin Pratt and everyone else at the University Press of Colorado was a wonderful experience," he said. "They were impeccably professional and accessible—an author's dream. I'd surely do another book with them if the opportunity arose."

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