University Press sales skyrocket

by Liz Bogut

A rising trend for Minnesota’s authors to publish locally is securing the future for scholarly publications.
Nationwide, university press sales increased by 5.1 percent in 1999, according to figures released by the Association of American Publishers. The University’s press sales exceeded those figures by almost 18 percent.
“The success of the University Press ensures that a wide variety of scholarly material will be available for readers,” said Bill Gawronski, sales manager for the University Press.
Gawronski said university presses publish books that contain specific academic content, material that larger publishers might not be interested in.
Books about Minnesota, the Midwest and specific academic fields are typically published by the University Press, Gawronski said.
University Press Director Douglas Armato attributed the growth in sales to a change in the way books are marketed.
“Since the introduction of electronic book-selling, our sales have increased 800 percent,” Armato said.
Armato said superstores such as Borders and Barnes and Noble stock more University Press titles than ever before.
Although the past couple of years have yielded higher sales for the University Press, this has not always been the case.
“The trend has been a roller coaster. The market used to be dominated by library sales, but that has diminished because library budgets have been so strained,” Armato said.
One university press faces hard times, despite the successful national market.
Iowa State University has hired a consultant to recommend whether to sell the university’s 66-year-old press, merge with another publisher or expand.
Warren R. Madden, the university’s vice president for business and finance, said the small press only generates about $3 million to $4 million in sales each year.
“The press is financially breaking even. It is not making enough to set aside money for repairs and modernization in the future,” Madden said.
Most university presses, including the University Press, receive financial support from the university. But, the Iowa State University Press does not.
Although the University Press’s revenue is comparable to that of the Iowa State University Press, Armato is confident the University is not headed down the same path.
“We have managed to live within our means,” Armato said.

Liz Bogut welcomes comments at She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.