NYU Press Leads Group Receiving Mellon Grant for UP Electronic Book Project

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NYU Press is pleased to announce the receipt of a planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a collaborative university press electronic book project. The grant, to be administered by NYU Press on behalf of collaborating presses at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Rutgers University, will fund multifaceted research into the feasibility of developing a consortium of university presses to deliver e-books to libraries on a shared platform. The participating presses will select and hire one or more consultants who will survey librarians about their evolving needs for digitally available scholarship, and appraise technology vendors, purchasing models and partnerships, and delivery platforms.

The initiative will differ from existing e-book ventures in that it will be run by and for scholarly publishers, with a primary focus on the needs of university presses and their library customers. Other notable features of the consortium include:

  • A large number of university presses, a minimum of ten in the first year, but with a plan for significantly larger scale, adding five to ten in each successive year over a five-year period
  • The presses that would launch this project would represent a mix of sizes
  • The goal would be to launch with a minimum of 10,000 e-books, both backlist and frontlist, with a plan for annual additions
  • Initial focus on the library market with the possible expansion to students for classroom use, and, depending on the consultant’s recommendation, later to individual consumers
  • Multiple delivery models and purchase/subscription options, giving libraries the flexibilities they seek, including selection by subject area, year of publication, and patron-driven features
  • Possible bundling with print or print-on-demand editions should the libraries find this useful as we make the transition from print books to e-books

For university presses, this is the ideal time to launch a new e-book initiative. The need is clear, and no vendor has emerged to fill it to the satisfaction of the academic publishing or library communities. The consortium envisioned by the four partner presses is an ambitious but practical way for scholarly publishers to address the changing landscape for the dissemination of scholarship.

The co-principal investigators for the grant are Steve Maikowski, Director of NYU Press, and Marlie Wasserman, Director of Rutgers University Press.

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