1 What's your company called?
Liverpool University Press.
2 What do you publish?
We publish around 100 books a year and 28 journals, specialising in history, modern languages, medieval studies, literature, visual culture and poetry. Most recently we have become the publishing partner of the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization too.
3 What's the story of the company?
We are a 118-year-old overnight success story. Liverpool University Press was founded in 1899 but comprehensively restructured and relaunched in 2004. We have grown rapidly since then, picking up industry acknowledgement along the way, including the Frankfurt Book Fair Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year Award in 2015. The Press combines the inquisitive mindset of a start-up with the pedigree of a century-old university press.
4 How's business?
Pretty good. Book and journal sales are solid and we’re enjoying both organic growth and the benefit of recent acquisitions, including the Aris & Phillips lists from Casemate / Oxbow, medieval lists from the University of Exeter Press and the partnership with Littman. Our experiment in funded Open Access e-textbook provision shows early signs of success too.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
We enjoy the freedom we have to take on new challenges and explore new ideas. Unusually for a university press, LUP is not a university department, even though it is ultimately owned by its host university: this means we receive no financial support whatsoever and have to be entirely self-funded—but on the other hand this enlightened structure gives us the autonomy to operate as a successful independent academic publisher and do great things in the name of the University of Liverpool.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
In academic publishing it remains the disparity between what universities expect to have published and what they have the budget to purchase.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Don’t be shy when it comes to your fellow publishers. Most people are happy to share their knowledge. If you are considering trying out an idea, ask around and consider another press’ experience.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
The university press world is, on the whole, wonderfully collegiate, but membership of the IPG brings us into contact with the extended family of publishers grappling with the same issues from outside the UPs.