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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA Press saw awards-rich 2010

    In 1959, UA Press was established as a part of the University of Arizona anthropology department in order to publish scholarly works outside of the university. But more than 50 years later, the award-winning press is churning out new works that show the strength of Arizona’s literary community.

    In 2010, UA Press won about 20 local, state and national awards for published works from the PEN Center USA, the American Educational Studies Association and the Arab American National Museum, among other national organizations. Additionally, the UA Press work, “”A Gift of Angels: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac”” by Bernard L. Fontana, was selected among the “”Top Picks”” for Southwest Book of the Year. According to Holly Schaffer, publicity manager for UA Press, the book was the only unanimous pick among stiff competition.

    “”The panelists and self-proclaimed voracious consumers of Southwest literature examined more than 200 titles over the course of a year to determine the books that intrigue, astonish and increase our appreciation for the literature of our region,”” Schaffer said in a press release.

    Already this year, six UA Press works earned “”Outstanding Academic Titles”” nods by Choice magazine, which analyzes hundreds of varied academic works and is geared toward American academic libraries.

    The titles are less than 3 percent of the more than 25,000 titles submitted to Choice, Schaffer said in an interview with the Daily Wildcat. “”It’s been a really spectacular year for us.””

    The press focuses on works from the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, and works as a nonprofit publisher of regional texts, professors’ dissertations, scholarly works and “”publishes the work of scholars wherever they may be, concentrating upon scholarship that reflects the special strengths”” of Arizona’s three public university institutions, according to its website.

    UA press has more than 1,000 works in print today, printing around 55 annually, and boasts internships in editing, publishing and marketing, a step Schaffer utilized in school before eventually working for the press.

    According to Schaffer, UA Press titles historically tend to receive one or two nods from Choice, but six is the largest number Schaffer has seen since she began working at the press.

    The press differs from many other places in two major regards — it publishes works that not only turn profits, but also adds to the breadth of knowledge of an academic field, and every work published by the press must have two positive blind peer reviews before going to print.

    “”All of our books are vetted by scholars in the field,”” Schaffer said. “”You have a guarantee of quality.””

    The press also boasts three series of texts: Sun Tracks, an indigenous voices novel series founded in 1971; Space Science Series, a solar and planetary system textbook manufacturing series founded in 1974; and Camino del Sol, a Latino literature series founded in 1994.

    The future of UA Press lies in serving needs of the readers, according to Schaffer. Dozens of UA Press authors will be at the third annual Tucson Festival of Books to meet with readers and explain their methodologies. Authors are also talking about eventually offering each book from UA Press in a hard copy and digital form.

    “”We’re adapting as things change in the book market. Our authors are really tuned into that conversation,”” Schaffer said of offering UA Press books on e-readers, “”and going forward, we hope to unveil something really soon.””

    Timeline of UA Press

    1959 – George Webb’s “”A Pima Remembers”” is the first book published by UA Press.

    1962 – Renowned anthropologist Edward Spicer’s “”Cycles of Conquest”” is published, an influential book on Southwest cultural change which would later win the Southwestern Library Association’s 1964 award for Best Book on the Southwest.

    1965 – “”English Words from Latin and Greek Elements”” by Donald Ayers, a now-standard etymology text with more than a quarter million copies printed, is published. It’s the press’s most popular book to date.

    1978 – American Association for State and Local History awards the press its Award of Merit for documenting Arizona historical programs with its works.

    1986 – “”Gathering the Desert,”” a series of essays documenting forgotten Southwestern plant life by Gary Paul Nabhan, wins the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing.

    1999 – The press wins its first American Book Award with its publication of Luis Alberto Urrea’s “”Nobody’s Son.””

    2000 – UA Press is named Publisher of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

    2008 – UA Press receives an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation four-year publishing grant for indigenous studies.

    2009 – National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry awarded to UA Press author Juan Felipe Herrera.

    2010 – UA Press wins close to two dozen local, state and national writing and publishing awards from such organization as PEN Center USA, the American Educational Studies Association and the Arab American National Museum.

    2011 – Six UA Press works earn “”Outstanding Academic Titles”” nods by Choice magazine.

    — Information from UA Press website

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