Knowledge Unlatched founder Frances Pinter has been named the winner of the first University Press Redux Award. The new award honours an outstanding contribution to university press publishing by an individual or press, either through innovation, through providing inspiration or visibility for the sector, or for challenging UPs to rethink and evolve their practice.
Pinter set up Knowledge Unlatched, a not-for-profit venture creating a global library consortium, to promote sustainable open access academic publishing. Formerly c.e.o. of Manchester University Press and publisher at Bloomsbury Academic, as well as many other roles in her academic publishing career, Pinter triumphed on a shortlist that also included the University of Michigan Press, Liverpool University Press and Australia's ANU Press, one of the earliest Open Access presses.
Pinter (above left) was presented with the award at the University Press Redux conference yesterday (13th February) by conference curator Lara Speicher of UCL Press, after votes from conference delegates ahead of the day selected her as winner.
Accepting the award, Pinter said it was "wonderful to have on the shortlist three university presses from three different continents, a testimony to the wonderful friendships we have throughout the world, through our work", saying that ANU Press, on whose board she sits, had "inspired her and given her energy", while Anthony Cond of Liverpool UP and Charles Watkinson of Michigan had been early adopters of Knowledge Unlatched.
"This award comes when I am stepping down from executive roles and becoming a researcher," she said, revealing that her topic of study will be the phenomenon of book-burning and what will take the place of book-burning in the digital world. "It involves going back in time, and forward, to see how books will be managed and manipulated in the future", she said. "One of the first book-burnings was in 213 BC when the emperor of China burned anything critical about him; more recently, in Northern Russia, books written by Russian authors financed by a programme run by George Soros were burned, not because of what they contained but because of who had sponsored them. There are thousands of instances of book-burning.
"I'll be spending the next few years in the British Library, asking the question, what makes knowledge survive? And I am certain that what university presses do to ensure books are discoverable, accessible, presentable and hopefully readable will be of paramount importance - you have a huge responsibility," she told conference delegates.