UC Press Designates New Director

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University of California Press, the largest academic publisher on the West Coast, announced the appointment of a new director this week.

The UC Board of Regents approved the director, Lynne Withey, in a meeting Monday.

Withey's appointment comes in the same year university presses across the country are cutting back on publications and trying to market an image that will move them out of the red and into the black.

Lynne Withey

Withey began working at UC Press in 1986 and has been serving as the acting director since February.

Officials at UC Press said Withey, a history scholar and experienced administrator, will move the press forward.

"(She's) a very savvy individual," said UC Press Associate Editor Stanley Holwitz. "She will be able to make necessary adjustments to break even."

UC Press, which has a collection of over 3,500 titles and works with a $20 million budget, fell into debt earlier this year as retail sales decreased.

UC Press receives about $1 million from the University of California and makes most of its income from sales.

When the financial crisis hit earlier this year, UC Press hired the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. to evaluate its financial practices.

As a result of the plan drawn up with the firm, UC Press began downsizing scholarly publications in certain fields. Some staff members also left.

James Clark, the former director of UC Press, said the shift will not compromise the integrity of UC Press' scholarly mission, but it will decrease the number of publications.

"It was a realignment of focus," Clark said. "You do want to retain the integrity of the press, but each editor has to balance so many scholarly books and so many mid-range books and some broad-based books that have larger markets that can cover the costs."

Some said they have concerns that these changes will make it more difficult for professors to publish their work. But Withey voiced support for the recent changes, which have slightly increased revenue this spring.

"We've had a couple of breakout books this spring, launched a new journal for the American Sociological Association and began distributing books for the Sierra Club," Withey said in a statement.

"These ventures exemplify our future strategies-to diversify our business by working with partners whose missions match ours, while continuing to publish the kind of books that have made our reputation in past."

Withey was selected after a nationwide search.

Some said that Withey's experience within the press will be a viable asset for the company.

"I think it is a good thing to promote in-house because they know the organization from the inside," said Christina Creveling, manager of University Press Books, an independent bookstore that sells many UC Press titles.

Withey, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, has not announced her plans for the publishing company.


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