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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 published across the disciplinary spectrum. In the mid-1960s the Press began to focus its editorial program on Amerian and European historical and cultural studies, the social sciences, and, selectively, the professions. A member of the Association of American University Presses, the Press now publishes upward of 140 new books and periodical issues a year, with an active backlist of more than 3000 titles. Professional and support staff numbers 29. 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, the members of which 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 nearby 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 between the Books Division and the Journals Division. In the Acquisitions Department of the Books Division 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 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. Staff specialists create advertising, prepare catalogues and direct mail brochures, arrange exhibits and publicity, submit books for review consideration, and conduct marketing campaigns online via the web, email, and social media. The department also manages major book wholesale and retail accounts as well as teams of sales representatives who call on thousands of regional wholesalers and individual retail bookstores throughout the country and around the world. The Journals Division manages production, circulation, marketing, and global distribution, in print and digital forms, of the periodicals published by the Press.

All Penn Press books and journals are available worldwide. Most international book sales are handled through a network of sales agents headquartered in the U.K. (in Tunbridge Wells for Europe, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, for the UK and much of the rest of the world outside North and South America); and in Toronto for Canada. 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 close to 15 percent of the total.

The Business and Administration Department, though treated operationally as part of the Books Division, provides general administrative and financial management for both divisions of the Press. Encompassing the offices of the director and business manager, the department's services include rights and permissions management, award submissions, 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 cultural studies from late antiquity through the early modern period, in urban studies, 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 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
Daniel Gordon
  Owner and Manager
  Fulwider Corporation
Kate Lee
  Stripe Press
Wendell Pritchett, ex officio
  University of Pennsylvania
Franklyn L. Rodgers, chair emeritus
  Former Chairman
  Warner Publisher Services, Inc.
Stuart Teacher
  Co-Founder and former Publisher
  Running Press Book Publishers
Eve M. Troutt-Powell, ex officio
  Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of History
  Department of History
  University of Pennsylvania

Faculty Editorial Board

Eve M. Troutt-Powell, chair
  Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of History
  Department of History
  University of Pennsylvania
Shira Brisman
  Assistant Professor in Early Modern Art
  Department of History of Art
  University of Pennsylvania
Eva Del Soldato
  Associate Professor of Romance Languages
  Department of Italian Studies
  University of Pennsylvania
Sonja Duempelmann
  Associate Professor
  Weitzman School of Design
  University of Pennsylvania
Nancy Hirschmann
  Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences
  Department of Political Science
  University of Pennsylvania
Sarah Paoletti
  Practice Professor of Law
  Director, Transnational Legal Clinic
  The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Paul K. Saint-Amour
  Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities
  Department of English
  University of Pennsylvania
Andrew Shankman
  Department of History
  Rutgers University, Camden
Deborah Thomas
  R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology
  and Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography
  Department of Anthropology
  University of Pennsylvania


The Press gratefully acknowledges gifts and grants made by the following individuals and institutions during fiscal year 2018:

Elizabeth A. Clark
J.M. Kaplan Fund
International Center for Medieval Art
Penn IUR
Penn Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies
Charles E. Mather III (x2)
Mellon Foundation
Paul Mellon Center, UK
McNeil Center of Early American Studies (x2)
Middle Tennessee State University
Ohio State University (x2)
F. L. Rodgers Family Fund
Penn School of Arts and Sciences (x2)
University of California, Santa Barbara (x3)
University of Chicago
University of Guelph
University of Illinois
University of Maryland, College Park
University of South Alabama
University of Texas, Austin
Richard Vague
Washington University, St. Louis

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