In a four-suite office in the Manly Miles Building off of Harrison, a book is born. One of only forty per year, this book, published by the Michigan State University Press, may soon take up space on library shelves and professors’ bookcases across the country. But, most likely, you will never see it on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list.
Established in 1947 to compensate for the disorganization in textbook publishing at MSU, the press publishes a smorgasbord of materials from academic journals to poetry to fiction and is among the roughly 90 university presses in the country.
Unlike commercial presses, the MSU press is non-profit,and the most important motivation, according to MSU Press Director Fred Bohm, is the “quality of the scholarship.” The press is supported by grants and fundraising efforts, and “people who believe in books,” Bohm said.
A typical day at the MSU Press doesn’t exist and the small staff of fourteen is consistently busy. One day for the journal editors may involve copyediting or proofreading, or working with academic editors to select articles that will fit the style of the journals, which include subject matter on American History, Literature, Canadian Studies, African Studies, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, and Native American Studies. A day in book acquisition area of the MSU Press may involve looking for manuscripts or going to academic meetings to keep updated on the latest research.
“In any given year there will be about 2,000 acquisitions, but only about forty of those acquisitions will be published,” Bohm said. Publication itself is a lengthy process and takes about nine months from beginning to end. “A book up for publication will be sent out for peer review. Then the press holds an editorial meeting to make a final decision.”
It is not easy keeping with the latest in academia and publishing technology. “Diversification is one of the things that has really kept us going,” Bohm said. But there are challenges to come in the publishing world. Technological advances are taking place, but until there is a way that technology can preserve literature permanently, they do not want to invest in it completely.” Currently, the press uses acid-free paper that is guaranteed to last 300 years.
The MSU press offers internships for credit for a limited number interested students. The deadline for this summer is January 14th. For more information on internships or more general information about the MSU Press, check out its Web site at

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