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November 2014: the first ever communication about Universitas Press is sent out, via social media channels. What the three of us who founded the press wanted to do, how we imagined our press, has long since vanished. 8 years is a long time, a lot of work, and many different circumstances that changed.
When we first discussed amongst ourselves – colleagues, educators, fresh PhD holders – the idea of starting our own press, we thought about doing a projet de coeur, meaning publish books we really love and that we know readers would love, including young literature students. We thought of publishing one, maybe two titles per year, at our own leisure, with no pressure to perform, sell, survive as a business, but rather to pay the costs ourselves and sell some books to the local English-speaking community in Quebec. We made the plan, registered the partnership and chose the first titles: a year later, we published Pride and Prejudice. We asked Jane Austen expert Sylvia Hunt to write the Introduction and she accepted. She has, since, written several introductions and edited the anthology of British Romantic poetry These Immortal Creations, adopted by instructors in both the US and the UK. She’s been one of our biggest supporters and we owe her so much!
In that first year, though, so many thing happened, on a personal level, on a business level, shocks to the system we couldn’t have anticipated. In less than a year since we had registered the press, our little project became a much bigger operation. Once UP became UP Inc., our 2-books per year press changed into 6-8 books per year, printing and fulfillment through one of the largest book operators in the world, conventions, exhibits, and a few years of crazy, crazy work. Gone was the dream of the idyllic little press; instead, the reality of a business trying to establish itself, produce more titles, find new ways to promote them. So the uphill battle began.
Over the years, we’ve worked hard to keep the press vibrant, to publish books for the classroom (our 4 titles in the In the classroom series are some of our best-selling titles), to help instructors deliver great courses, and to make sure students fall in love with prose as well as poetry. Besides critical editions that favor contemporary approaches, we’ve started publishing scholarly editions of great classics, editions that are meant to entice students of literature to engage with the text in new ways. We’ve published authors who have been forgotten or who are known for one or two stories or poems, but not given the attention they deserve. Most importantly, we published and will continue to publish women authors. Our 18th- and 19th-century collections are gender-balanced and restore women, minorities, and even themes to the academic canon. We do have something of literary justice warriors in our veins, to be honest.
Our first thematic volume was Gothic and Racism and it has been one of our pride and joys. It is a volume that has solid scholarship, good writing, innovation, and authors from many different countries, including non-English-speaking countries. Publishing researchers and academics from countries outside the English-speaking world is paramount to who we are. We believe that only by giving voice to the world can we make any individual or collective progress.
Today, UP has published over 40 titles. We are an established press, with titles available through specialized, academic books distributors. Our books can be ordered by instructors and colleges to use in the classroom. Desk copies are easily accessible in the UK or the US, as much as in Canada or the European Union. Apart from the hundreds of authors from past centuries, we have published some one hundred academics and independent researchers, both in monographs or thematic volumes. We never made compromises: always good quality research, high standards, but most importantly, keeping true to our slogan: books that make sense of the world. Thank you to everybody who has been part of our journey! Thank you to all who will be part of our journey!
the UP team: Cristina, Helene, and Miller
Our books are made for the college classroom. They have beautiful covers and layout, to entice students to read. The margins are slightly bigger, so students can take discreet notes. The paper, the fonts, the spacing between the lines create a flowing rhythm and encourage reading.
Universitas Press in an independent academic press that publishes Books that make sense of the world.
UP is an indepedent publisher, peer-reviewed, and employee-owned. established in 2014 in Montreal, Canada.
The majority of our titles are available as eBooks through Google Play, as PDFs via UBC Press, or through campus bookstore platforms. For personal use, we recommend Google Play, which allows one to sample the content and format of any of our eBooks using the Google Play app. Our titles on Google Play include both the original page layout (equivalent to a PDF) and flowing text layout (equivalent to an EPUB).
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