Background & History

The University of Pennsylvania Press was originally incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 26 March 1890, and the imprint of the University of Pennsylvania Press first appeared on publications in the closing decade of the nineteenth century—among the earliest such imprints in America. One of the Press's first book publications, in 1899, was a landmark: The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, by renowned black reformer, scholar, and social critic W.E.B. Du Bois, a book that remains on the Press's lists to this day. From the turn of the century to the late 1950s, the Press had published more than 700 books. Many of these focused on Pennsylvania and on American history and culture of the eighteenth century. In the mid-1960s the Press began to broaden the scope of its editorial interests to include European history, the social sciences, and the professions. A member of the Association of American University Presses, the Press now publishes upwards of 130 new books and journal issues a year, with an active backlist of more than 1500 titles. Professional and support staff numbers 27. Annual revenues exceed $4 million.

Governance & Structure

The University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc. is a nonprofit Pennsylvania corporation wholly owned by the University of Pennsylvania, maintaining its own nonprofit tax status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

All of the Press's property, business, and operations are overseen by a Press board of trustees, who are appointed by the trustees of the University. The current Press board is composed of individuals who are prominent members of the business, banking, legal, publishing, philanthropic, and academic communities. In administrative and financial matters the director of the Press reports to the provost of the University. Editorially the Press is responsible to a distinguished board appointed by the president of the University from the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and from regional colleges and universities. This faculty editorial board controls the Penn imprint, and its approval must be given before any work may be accepted for publication. Members of these boards serve without financial compensation.

Operations of the Press are distributed among four departments: In the Acquisitions Department the acquiring editors are responsible for finding, evaluating, selecting, and developing book manuscripts for publication. Members of the Editing and Production Department attend to the editing and design of all books and journals published by the Press and supervise their manufacture. Like almost all other book publishers, the Press has no printing facilities, instead purchasing type composition and manufacture under competitive contract. The Marketing Department handles all functions of selling and promoting books, both domestically and overseas. Sales representatives call on thousands of book wholesalers and retail bookstores throughout the country and around the world. Other staff specialists create advertising, prepare catalogues and direct mail brochures, arrange exhibits and publicity, submit books for review and award consideration, and negotiate bookclub adoptions.

All Penn Press books are available worldwide. Most international sales are handled through a network of sales agents headquartered in the UK (in Bristol for the UK, in Tunbridge Wells for Europe, in Oxford for the Middle East); in Toronto for Canada; and, for Asia, New York and Hawaii. The Press's books are stocked for promotion and distribution in the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The Press actively sells translation rights to its books to foreign publishers. Export sales account for about 10 percent of the total.

Business and Administration provides general administrative and financial management for the Press. Encompassing the offices of the director and business manager, the department's services include rights and permissions management, order processing and fulfillment, customer service, data processing and royalty statements, billing and collections, credit management, and cash handling. This department is responsible as well for the management of revenue and expense budgets, maintenance of the physical plant, and administration of personnel matters. Inquiries about employment at the Press should be directed to the Business Manager.

Editorial Program

Penn is particularly well known for its books in American history, in European history and literary studies from late antiquity through the early modern period, in studio arts, and on international human rights issues. The Press has gained a leading position also in landscape architecture and garden history. By long tradition the Press has published with distinction works of contemporary ethnography, now focusing on ethnopolitical conflicts around the world. Current catalogues show more and more books in urban studies and Jewish studies. Future lists will increasingly feature books on international relations and in economics and business, disciplines that embody the ideal Ben Franklin espoused when he founded the University of Pennsylvania to provide an education that marries the theoretical with the practical.

Books published by the Penn Press regularly win prizes in their fields of scholarship. Many others successfully make the work of scholars and researchers accessible to readers beyond those with academic or professional interests. Since early in the last century Penn has published general books about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware Valley. Semipopular books of high quality, these are published primarily for those who live and work in the mid-Atlantic region and for those who want to be informed visitors.

The acquiring editors actively solicit and commission manuscripts that promise books of note in subjects appropriate for the Penn Press editorial program. Submissions should be directed to the appropriate editor in the Acquisitions Department.

Board of Trustees

Richard W. Vague, chair
  Managing Director
  Gabriel Investments
Brendan Cahill
  VP Corporate Projects
  Random House
Karen Christensen
  Berkshire Publishing Group LLC
Daniel Gordon
  Owner and Manager
  Fulwider Corporation
Amy Gutmann, ex officio
  University of Pennsylvania
Jane G. Pepper
  Past President
  The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Vincent Price, ex officio
  University of Pennsylvania
Franklyn L. Rodgers, chair emeritus
  Former Chairman
  Warner Publisher Services, Inc.
Larry Silver, ex officio
  Farquar Professor of Art History
  University of Pennsylvania
Stuart Teacher
  Burgess Lea Press
Monica Vachher
  Higher Education Advisors LLC

Faculty Editorial Board

Larry Silver, chair
  Farquar Professor of Art History
Paul Cobb
  Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Erin Daly
  Professor of Law
  Widener University School of Law
Mauro F. Guillén
  Zandman Professor in International Management
  Professor of Management and Sociology
Jean-Michel Rabaté
  Professor of English
Emily R. Steiner
  Assistant Professor of English
Richard M. Valelly
  Smith '14 Professor of Political Science
  Swarthmore College
Michael Zuckerman, ex officio
  Professor of History Emeritus

The Press gratefully acknowledges gifts and grants made by the following individuals and institutions during fiscal year 2014:

Barbara Aronson
Jamie Bischoff
Bryn Mawr College
Clemson University
Fair Play Foundation
Foundation for Landscape Studies
James Gigantino
Daniel Gordon/Drumcliff Foundation
Haverford College
Catherine Lawrence(x2)
Charles Mather (x2)
David Nugent
Wei Su Zhu Nugent
Jane G. Pepper
Eric Papenfuse(x2)
Princeton University
Stuart Teacher/Three Trees Foundation
University of California (x2)
University of Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania (x6)
University of Southern California
University of Texas, Austin

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