Trouble on the Horizon for LSU Press?

waugh_grantThere has been some Online chatter about the future of LSU PressThe Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that the state is planning major budget cuts for the school, which may lead to the dismantling of the press.  For those of us who are serious about Civil War and Southern history this would be a major blow.  LSU is one of the top publishers in both of these fields and is responsible for some of the most important studies of the past few decades.  My guess is that the publisher will survive the budget woes, but it may have to cut back on the number of titles.  Let’s hope the quality doesn’t suffer.

On the other hand I just received the latest catalog (Fall/Winter 2009) from UNC Press.  They are slated to release a healthy selection of new titles in both fields.  Forthcoming titles include Joan Waugh’s long-awaited study of Grant as well as Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh’s study of West Pointers (his UVA dissertation).  You can also look forward to books by Howard Jones, William L. Shea, Michael Perman, William Blair ed., and Judith Giesberg.  Most of these titles can be found in Gary Gallagher’s Civil War America series.

On a completely different note I just accepted an invitation for next Wednesday to talk to a Cub Scout troop about the Civil War.  I am going to see if we can meet at the Confederate cemetery at UVA, which would make for the perfect setting.

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9 thoughts on “Trouble on the Horizon for LSU Press?

  1. Larry Cebula

    Sad news. We are in a rough transition spot in between traditional scholarly publishing, which has become an unsustainable model, and the digital/print-on-demand future. The University of Michigan press is going digital only. I suspect that a majority of journal articles are being accessed digitally even now. In a few years print copies of journals will be rare and all but the books with the greatest interest will be digital only.

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  2. Paul Taylor

    Sad indeed if Larry is right. For countless people, books are much more than mere words on a page or a means of conveyance for ideas. They are tangible objects that ardent bibliophiles love to touch, hold, smell, etc. Same concept as to why there’s been a bit of a renaissance for vinyl LP’s in the music field – they have become a rejection of what someone termed “the ethereal nature of the digital age.”

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  3. Kevin Levin Post author

    Larry,

    I am very much looking forward to seeing how UofMichigan press fairs with a digital format.

    Paul,

    I appreciate your love of books and I do share it. That said, my view of this matter has definitely evolved over the past few years, especially as I come to appreciate the opportunities of digital history as well as Online research programs such as Zotero. I’ve become much more utilitarian about information. The overriding issues have become more and more about access to information and the integration of that information into various electronic formats.

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  4. Mark R. Cheathem

    Losing LSU Press would, indeed, be sad. My first book, Old Hickory’s Nephew: The Political and Private Struggles of Andrew Jackson Donelson, was published as part of the Southern Biography Series; my second book is under contract with them. Bert Wyatt-Brown, Rand Dotson, and the rest of the editors have done superb work in the past few years. It would be a shame to lose the preeminent southern university press.

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  5. Kevin Levin Post author

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. What is your second book about? I agree that it would be a shame to lose LSU. The other day I had a chance to talk a bit with a series editor at UNC Press, who thinks that LSU will make it through this tough patch. Let’s hope so.

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  6. Ken Noe

    There is a campaign currently afoot to have people write letters to the LSU chancellor and provost (not e-mails) about the importance of the press. My letter is already in the mail. –Ken

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  7. Mark R. Cheathem

    My second book will examine Andrew Jackson as a southern plantation and slave owner. Although John Marszalek was my dissertation supervisor and graduate mentor, I am more a Jacksonian than a Civil War historian.

    I enjoy your blog. I recommended it to the students in my Civil War class last semester.

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  8. Kevin Levin Post author

    Mark,

    Thanks for recommending my blog to your students.

    Ken,

    Great idea and one that I may follow up with.

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  9. Mike

    I sure hope this doesn’t come to pass and that LSU Press misses the chopping block. They print lots of good books that otherwise would never see the light of day.

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