The summer transfer season in academic publishing might perhaps lack the glamour of its footballing counterpart – and, in all probability, the enormous salaries and transfer fees – but the last month has nonetheless seen some major moves. As in football, it’s in Manchester that the biggest change has taken place, where Manchester University Press has announced that its new CEO will be Simon Ross, former Deputy MD for academic publishing at Cambridge University Press. Ross will be taking over from Frances Pinter, who has stepped down after successfully combining the role with leading Knowledge Unlatched for the past three years; Pinter will now be devoting more of her time to KU’s new research division, KU Research. Unlatched’s project to crowdfund the open access publication of scholarly monographs continues, with a third collection of titles, KU Select 2016, currently being prepared. For the first time, this collection will include 200 backlist titles alongside 150 new books, all in the Humanities and Social Sciences. An announcement of the full list of titles is expected shortly.
Ross’s old colleague, Richard Fisher, is taking on new responsibilities at the Independent Publishers’ Guild, where he’ll now be updating members on changes in the world of policy as well as on academic news. Meanwhile, the two men’s former employer Cambridge University Press has just published its annual report on what Sir David Bell, Chair of the Press Syndicate, described as “a challenging year for trading” with “rapidly changing market conditions”; he warned that following the UK referendum decision, “a period of unwelcome uncertainty” was “likely to continue”. CEO Peter Philips noted that 2015-16 had seen “underlying growth” for the Press, once currency fluctuations were taken into account; though monograph publishing had “had a challenging year” in a declining market, “demand for scholarly journals remained robust”, and Cambridge remained keen to support open access publishing. With more than 90% of Press revenues now deriving from overseas, restructuring had increased the number of staff in key markets, while a number of UK employees had been made redundant.
Yale University Press has also been undergoing some restructuring. New editorial director for trade academic Julian Loose will be arriving in October from Faber & Faber, where he had served as publisher for arts and non-fiction. The redundancies of long-serving commissioning editors Gillian Malpass and Sally Salvesen have caused concern among the academic community, however. A letter written by Professors Andrew Saint and Jules Lubbock, signed by more than 300 academics from 70 universities and museums worldwide, criticised the decision and expressed concern at the future direction of the press. At Bloomsbury, Kathryn Earle has been appointed MD for the Digital Resources Division, following the launch of the publisher’s Bloomsbury 2020 strategy three months ago. The strategy will see the company’s academic publishing focus increasingly on digital content and business-to-business sales.
The last month has also sadly seen the deaths of two well-respected senior figures from academic publishing. Steve Smith, former President and CEO of Wiley and Sons, died in July after a long illness; he had worked at Wiley for more than two decades before taking early retirement last year, having joined as Vice President of Wiley Asia back in 1992. David Attwooll, publisher, poet, and Chair of the Board at Liverpool University Press, passed away in early August after a distinguished and varied career that included launching Oxford’s World Classics paperback list, serving as MD of Random House’s UK paperback and reference divisions, and founding both reference and database publishers Helicon, and consultancy Attwooll Associates. As LUP Director Anthony Cond observed in his tribute, Attwooll had taken on a consultancy role with Liverpool when it was on the point of closure; a decade – and numerous awards – later, it was continuing from strength to strength.