University Press Week 2020 with Conor Broughan
University Press Week runs from November 9-15, and the theme chosen by the Association of University Presses this year is “Raise UP”. This theme was chosen to emphasize the role that academic publishers play in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines that bring new perspectives, ideas, and voices to readers around the globe. In keeping with the ideals of UP Week, Book Culture asked some staffers from around the University Press community to tell us about their work, and what they’re reading.
We're especially excited to present this Q&A with Conor Broughan, our sale representative from the Columbia University Press Sales Consortium. He works tirelessly with us to ensure we have the newest and best in adaemic publishing from the whole list of university presses covered by the consortium. He has curated a list of titles for us for our window at Book Culture 112th in celebration of University Press week. The books are listed below!
1) How did you get your start in University and Academic Publishing?
I started as the Exhibits Coordinator at Columbia University Press in 2006, taking our books to academic conferences across the country. I stayed in touch with my boss during a stint in grad school and was lucky enough to be welcomed back with open arms into the university press fold when this sales representative position became available.
2) What was one of your first projects you worked on?
As a book sales rep, the first project was to develop relationships with the booksellers out in the field (or the "real world" as it is sometimes called in the office), and with the marketing and sales staff at the publishers I represent. That was a lot of people to keep track of all at once! I often say that I'm an employee of my publishers and an advocate for my bookstores. My ongoing project is to keep that balance.
3) Recommendation for people considering a career in academic publishing?
When I first started in academic publishing, I was pretty intimidated by some of the titles that I needed to be able to talk about with academics in that particular field of study. To be honest, I was intimidated by the books in general. I've learned that I don't need to be an expert in every field in order to make sure the right book finds the right reader. It's vastly more important for me to know everything I can about the bookstores I work with--and their customers--than to know everything about any particular academic discipline. When you know a bookstore well, you can help them surprise their regular customers. Everyone loves that moment!
4) What are you currently reading?
High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
by Erik Davis (The MIT Press/Strange Attractor)
Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields (Verso Press)
5) What are you working on now that you're excited about?
Like most jobs during the pandemic, everything that could change about this job has changed. Travel is a vital part of meeting with bookstores. Being stuck at home means getting creative with how we present titles to the world. I've created more targeted collections of new titles in the past five months than I had in the past five years combined. With bookstores working unbelievably hard with limited staff and resources to keep the doors open to browsers and fulfill web orders, any little bit we can do as reps to help stores find the right books has been a worthwhile use of my time.
Conor Broughan is the Northeast Sales Representative for the Columbia University Press Sales Consortium. He lives in Maine.
See Conor Broughan's window at 112th or browse the list below!
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