This fall, one of the The Ivy Bookshop’s top titles might surprise you. It’s not a hot new novel from a best-selling author. It’s not a celebrity memoir. No, it’s Baltimore: A Political History, by Matthew Crenson, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. A thick work of accessible scholarship, Baltimore: A Political History isn’t a book that just any press would’ve published. Its audience is highly specific – political science, urban studies, or history departments, and, well, the City of Baltimore. Because we can report: Baltimore wanted this book. Scratch that: Baltimore needed this book. On its publication date, people streamed into the shop to grab it from the topmost, center shelf. And it was Johns Hopkins Press that put it there —comprehensively written, attentively edited, and beautifully produced.
University presses have a mission to serve the public good. Independent bookstores do too. We both need to sell books, yes, but that’s not why we exist. We exist to provide cultural and intellectual connection within communities, whether they be academic, interest-driven, or geographic. We work to deliver ideas to people and people to ideas. When that’s your driving force, you get to listen attentively to your community and take chances based not on market-testing, but on instinct, curiosity, and independent thought. Each season at the shop, we sit and pore through the catalogues of university presses. Gorgeous photo essays, dense histories, fresh sociology. These are labors of intellectual love, books that prompt us to ask questions we didn’t know needed answering. Without them – their intensity and diversity and daring – we would be a lesser store.
By: Emma Snyder
Johns Hopkins University Press is excited to participate in AAUP's University Press Week! Checkout our blog and the blogs of your favorite University Presses for more content about the joys and challenges of scholarly publishing. #UPWeek #ReadUP