Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing
Ohio University Press 50 Year Anniversary logo
Graphic courtesy of: Ohio University Press
Feb 13, 2014
By Nicole Pellechia
Many Ohio University students and Athens community members would be surprised to know that Ohio University has its own nationally renowned book publishing company.
Founded in 1964 by a small committee commissioned by then-President Vernon Alden, the Ohio University Press was now ready to make history.
The committee recruited Cecil Hemley, a co-founder of Noonday Press and a senior editor at Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy in New York as the first director. In hiring a director from the commercial publishing world, Ohio University wanted to gain greater visibility for Ohio University.
"At Harvard we had a university press," Alden recollected, "and I was familiar with various presses around the country. I had naturally assumed most first-rate universities would have a press."
From 1964 to 1965, Ohio University Press published 12 titles with a staff of three people. In 1965, it was admitted as a member of the Association of American University Presses after only one publishing season.
In 1979, the Ohio University Press put together a licensing agreement with Swallow Press, a literary western publishing house that allowed it to expand in terms of genre. In 2008, Ohio University Press purchased Swallow Press outright, which expanded the number of titles on its list.
In 2013, Gillian Berchowitz became director after working at the Ohio University Press since 1988. Ohio University Press currently has a staff of nine full-time employees in Athens, Ohio, who acquire, edit, produce, and sell between 40 and 50 books each year, generating close to $1 million in annual sales. It continues to be a member of the American Association of University Presses.
"Ohio University Press today is an international publishing house with distribution channels around the world," Berchowitz said. "Along with our trade imprint, Swallow Press, the Ohio University Press proudly serves as Ohio University's scholarly publishing arm, promoting the culture of scholarly exchange and making books about big ideas in the humanities, arts, and sciences available worldwide in print and digital formats."
Ohio University Press publishes books about its local area and region, specifically Ohio, the Midwest, and Appalachia. It also publishes books of national interest, especially in literature and history. In addition, it publishes books about other parts of the world, most significantly in the areas of African Studies and Southeast Asian Studies as well as U.S. History and Global Health.
Ohio University Press is excited to celebrate its 50th year in business. To recognize the anniversary, the publisher established an "Ohio University Press Week," Feb. 16–22, which will include promotions and events.
"We wanted to dedicate a week to letting people know who we are," said Jeff Kallet, acting sales and marketing manager for Ohio University Press.
Athens City Mayor Paul Wiehl signed an Ohio University Press Week Proclamation at City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 12 to formally start the 50th anniversary celebration.
Here is a listing of the other activities scheduled for Ohio University Press Week:
• On Sunday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. Berchowitz will speak at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, to kick off the official celebration week's activities.
• On Monday, Feb. 17 at noon in the Ohio University Inn, Berchowitz will speak to the Athens Rotary Club to talk about university press publishing.
• On Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. in Alden Library, Berchowitz will host a presentation on the history of publishing books in Africa. ("From its early collaboration with the Center for International Studies in 1969, Ohio University Press has demonstrated a commitment to publishing about Africa," Berchowitz said. "Through 10 widely known scholarly series and co-publications with other publishers, the Ohio University Press has a reputation for publishing distinguished and accessible works of African literature, global health, social and environmental history, and contemporary politics.")
• On Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., Berchowitz will speak in a public forum at the Athens Public Library. At 7:30 p.m. on the same day, Ohio University Press author and Ohio University Creative Writing resident Josh Mehigan will perform a poetry reading in the Walter Hall Rotunda.
• On Friday, Feb. 21, Ohio University Press will host an open house at their 215 Columbus Road location from 4 to 6 p.m. Guests will have the chance to meet Ohio University Press staff and authors, take a tour of the offices and purchase discounted books. Food will be provided and there will be drawings for $50 gift certificates and a deluxe edition of the Ohio University Bicentennial Book.
"We are looking forward to the open house," Kallet said, "for the chance to get together with the local community and to show off our books."
Ohio University Press is located at 215 Columbus Road. Suite 101. For more information, please visit http://www.ohioswallow.com/fifty