We’re turning 50!

In 2014, Ohio University Press celebrates its 50th year as publishing house.

Founded in 1964 by then-president Vernon R. Alden, the Press’s core mission has been to put important scholarly and creative works into print, and to make the fruits of scholarly research accessible to general audiences. Through coverage in various media and through the sales of books, the Press extends the Ohio University name into the world.

“Ohio University Press today is an international publishing house with distribution channels around the world,” said Berchowitz. “Along with our trade imprint, Swallow Press, the Ohio University Press proudly serves as Ohio University’s scholarly publishing arm, promoting the culture of scholarly exchange and making books about big ideas in the humanities, arts, and sciences available worldwide in print and digital formats.”

Ohio University Press publishes books about its local area and region, specifically Ohio, the Midwest, and Appalachia; it publishes books of national interest, especially in literature and history; and it publishes books about other parts of the world, most significantly in the area of African Studies in which Ohio University Press is a leading publisher.

The majority of Ohio University Press authors are scholars affiliated with other universities, but several books have been written by Ohio University professors. (The Press publishes books about the university through its 1804 Books imprint.) In addition to scholars, Press authors include journalists, farmers, photographers, illustrators, counselors, cooks, gardeners, lawyers, and librarians.

A staff of nine full-time employees in Athens, Ohio, acquires, edits, produces, and sells between 40-50 books each year, generating close to $1 million in annual sales. Ohio University Press is a member of the American Association of University Presses.

Gill and David with past Hollis Summers Poetry Prize winner Joshua Mehigan
Alden Library stairwell banners during Ohio University Press Week
Green means "go," and in downtown Athens it also means it's Ohio University Press Week.
photo 3
Athens Book Center's OU Press Week display
Feb. 12, 2014, Mayor Paul Wiehl signs an OU Press Week Proclamation

See more photos on Ohio University Press’s Flickr account.


Ohio University Press Week

Ohio University Press Week was February 16–22. Thanks to everyone who helped us to promote the occasion, put on activities, and to make our open house a great success.

Schedule of Events

  • Sunday, Feb. 16, 4 PM
    Conversation with Ohio University Press Director Gillian Berchowitz at the Athens County Historical Society
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2 PM
    Gillian Berchowitz speaks about African studies publishing at Alden Library, Ohio University.
  • Thursday, Feb. 20, 7 PM
    Gillian Berchowitz talks at the Athens Public Library
  • Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:30 PM
    Ohio University Press author Joshua Mehigan reading at the Walter Hall Rotunda, Ohio University
  • Friday, Feb. 21, 4 PM–6 PM
    Open house reception at the Ohio University Press office (215 Columbus Road, Suite 101). Meet local authors and enter drawings for prizes. All are welcome.

In the Press

Download the Press Kit.

A Short History of Ohio University Press

The growth of American universities after World War II led to a corresponding expansion of scholarly research and an enormous potential for contribution to knowledge. To meet the obligation of publishing and disseminating this new research, many American universities established their own presses.

In the early 1960s, the Ohio University president Vernon Alden decided to create a university press. “At Harvard we had a university press,” he recollected, “and I was familiar with various presses around the country. I had naturally assumed most first-rate universities would have a press.”

Alden formed a committee charged with establishing a press, and soon they had recruited Cecil Hemley, a co-founder of Noonday Press and a senior editor at Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy in New York. In hiring a director from the commercial publishing world, Ohio University wanted to create an example for other university publishers.

“University-published works need not be stodgy and esoteric,” explained Alden in a 1963 press release announcing Hemley’s appointment. “As a matter of fact, we believe important and exciting works can be produced by the university press.”

In addition to the core mission of disseminating research-based books for scholars, there were two other types of books that Ohio University Press sought to publish: books that interpreted and synthesized scholarly research for nonspecialists, and books about the university’s geographical region.

From 1964 to 1965, Ohio University Press published twelve titles with a staff of three people. In 1965, it was admitted as a member of the Association of American University Presses after only one publishing season.

In 1979, Ohio University Press established a licensing agreement with Swallow Press, a literary and western publishing house with an esteemed reputation and a solid backlist of books which the press could distribute and reissue as needed. In 2008, Ohio University Press purchased Swallow Press outright and since then has undertaken an effort to revitalize this important imprint.

Today, Ohio University Press and Swallow Press publish between forty and fifty books annually with a staff of nine full-time employees who acquire, edit, produce, market, and sell to the world. Ohio University Press and Swallow Press books receive coverage in top media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, in scholarly publications like Foreign Affairs and Law and History Review, and in regional media like the Plain Dealer and Ohio Magazine.

In 2013, Gillian Berchowitz became director. Berchowitz has been with Ohio University Press since 1988, most recently in the capacity of editorial director. She entered publishing with Oxford University Press in Johannesburg, South Africa, and then with Ravan Press, an antiapartheid scholarly and literary press. Through her efforts, Ohio University Press has become a recognized leader in the field of African Studies. She has also furthered the press’s commitment to regional publishing by creating and publishing in the Series in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Appalachia.