"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Decline of the University Press

After finishing an article, I once decided to treat myself to a visit to the local Borders to buy a book. But I was so dismayed at what Borders had up in their entryway, that I turned around and left. Most appalling to me were the "hack books," the partisan political books that deserve little more than a good pulping. (Think Al Franken, Bill O'Reilly, and, yes, Ann Coulter). So it's pretty dismaying to me that Princeton University Press has decided to publish Sidney Blumenthal's book How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime, which is little more (according to the book description) than a collection of his columns for Britain's Guardian newspaper. It's dismaying because UPs are supposed to be a bit different, they're supposed to be publishing scholarship. Now, I know that there's plenty of hackery disguised as scholarship - and most of it of a rather unthinking lefty bent - but this seems like a real step down for a University Press. Princeton can - and should - do better.

1 comment:

Hunter Baker said...

You know, I think it's about money. For a very long time, the political polemic was a staple of the American Right. Now that the GOP has held power for a while, you see the left-wing polemic become popular and university presses KNOW those people! They can cash in!