Policy morphs into university press

Policy morphs into university press

In the year that academic publisher Policy Press celebrates its 20th anniversary, it has secured “major investment” from the University of Bristol to create a new university press, which launches on today (5th December).

Policy Press will become an imprint within the newly created University of Bristol Press (UBP) and will continue to publish “impactful” work that addresses social issues. In its initial stages UBP will produce texts that focus on more traditional scholarly subjects, across all the core social science disciplines.

Alison Shaw, director of Policy Press, spoke to The Bookseller about the decision to create UBP. “We have always been a part of the university [of Bristol] but only recently have we seen ourselves as a ‘university press’, with a distinct specialism,” Shaw
said. “As Policy Press expanded into new subject areas we found we had to explain that we did more ‘than just policy’ to new authors and audiences. We felt that the strength of the Policy Press brand was getting diluted. It felt right to face this head-on and create a new brand that would work globally within the scholarly market and reflect our position as a university press, while enabling Policy Press to remain resolutely focused on social change.”

Policy Press started with four members of staff in 1996: it has grown to 21 in 2016. The press will be adding new editorial, marketing, sales and operational staff to drive its expansion into areas within economics, politics and international development, business and management, and law, as it sets up UBP. With the list having won this year’s IPG award for Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year, Shaw hailed the support of the indie institution and the vibrance of the sector: “The IPG, which is a hugely supportive professional association, rightly highlights the independent sector’s creativity, enthusiasm and determination to succeed. I am sure that the sector will continue to thrive and to be vibrant, responsive and, importantly, very close to its readers and authors.”

She added that she was feeling “very positive” about the future of academic presses: “I value immensely the supportive and collaborative relationships we have with other scholarly and independent publishers, and I think this is a strength of our industry. We have a group of UK university presses that are rethinking how best to serve their academic communities, from the new start-ups such as UCL and Goldsmiths, to the established Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Wales lists. It feels very positive to me.”

To mark the launch of the new press and to celebrate 20 years of publishing, Policy Press is hosting an event at Bristol’s Festival of Ideas today (5th December). The event will feature writers Melissa Benn, Danny Dorling, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Owen Jones, with an introduction from the university’s vice-chancellor and president Professor Hugh Brady.