Princeton University Press

Princeton University Press was founded in 1905 by a gift from Charles Scribner 1875, and incorporated in 1910 as a non-profit corporation ``to establish, maintain, and operate a printing and publishing plant, for the promotion of education and scholarship, and to serve the University by manufacturing and distributing its publications.''

The first director was Whitney Darrow '03, who brought the Press into being. He was succeeded by Paul Tomlinson '09, who built up the printing plant and published many notable books during his long term, 1917-1938. The brief tenure, 1938-1941, of Joseph Brandt was a turning point in the development of the Press; from then on there was increasing emphasis on publishing rather than printing. This emphasis was further developed by Datus C. Smith, Jr. '29, with whom began the Press's greatest period of growth and achievement, continued since 1954 under the directorship of Herbert S. Bailey, Jr. '42.

Like many other good things in life the Press had a humble beginning. It started by buying out a small local printer and setting up shop in rented quarters over a drugstore on Nassau Street. In 1911 Charles Scribner gave the Press its handsome and unique building on William Street. At first the Scribner Building was mainly a printing plant, but in 1967 it was completely renovated and became the offices of the publishing division. An additional building was erected in nearby Lawrenceville to house the modern printing plant, warehouse, and accounting department. It was named the Laughlin Building, after Henry A. Laughlin '14, a former trustee and president of the Press's Board of Trustees.

Although closely connected with the University, the Press is a separate, financially independent corporation that has its own fifteen trustees, nine of whom must be members of the faculty, administration, or alumni of Princeton. The president of the University is an ex officio trustee, and he appoints four faculty members to the Editorial Board, which controls the imprint of the Press.

True to the purpose for which it was founded, the Press publishes scholarly books and continues to print most of them in its own plant. It prints for the University and some other non-profit organizations.

The Press has published nearly 3,000 titles since its first book, John Witherspoon's Lectures in Moral Philosophy, appeared in 1912. These have included such seminal volumes as Einstein's The Meaning of Relativity, von Neumann and Morgenstern's The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, and Edward S. Corwin's The Constitution and What It Means Today. Currently it publishes about 100 new books each year, selected from about 1,000 manuscripts submitted. The Press is responsible for a number of long-term projects intended to serve scholarship for many decades and perhaps centuries. One of these is The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Julian P. Boyd; the first volume was published in 1950, and over 60 are expected. Another is The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, edited by Arthur S. Link, for which about 45 volumes are planned.

Princeton University Press is cooperating with the National Endowment for the Humanities' program to produce authoritative editions of classic American authors by issuing The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, which is expected to encompass some 20 volumes. Another major project is the Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Archaeological Sites (1976), which contains descriptions of about 2,800 sites by some 400 authors and is a unique reference work in its field. In 1972 it was announced that the Press will publish The Writings of Albert Einstein with the cooperation of Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, where Einstein's archives are housed.

The Bollingen Series, begun in the 1940s by the Bollingen Foundation, was given to the Press in 1969 with the responsibility for carrying on its work in the fields of aesthetics, archaeology, cultural history, ethnology, literary criticism, mythology, philosophy, psychology, religion, and symbolism. It includes such great projects as The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and The Collected Works of Paul Valery, which the New York Times Book Review called ``undoubtedly one of the most distinguished and ambitious series of books ever issued by an American publisher.''

Over the years Princeton University Press books have won numerous honors, including at different times Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, Bancroft Prizes, and various awards from the professional scholarly associations. The Press has also received many awards for excellence in printing and design.

The Press publishes three scholarly journals: World Politics, issued for the University's Center of International Studies; The Annals of Mathematics, sponsored by the University and the Institute for Advanced Study; and Philosophy and Public Affairs, with no outside sponsorship, which is written for those concerned with the philosophical exploration of public issues in law, sociology, political science, and economics.

Since its inception, the Press has printed and published the Princeton Alumni Weekly, one of the nation's oldest alumni magazines. It is editorially directed by an alumni board, but managed by the Press, and has its offices in the Scribner Building. Some 40,000 copies of each issue are distributed.

In 1976, 98 new clothbound titles and 42 new paperbacks were published; 725,000 books were sold -- 320,000 hardcover, 405,000 paperback. Approximately 75 percent of total sales are from the backlist. The Press's paperback program, with over 300 titles in print, has been in operation since 1965, and is one of the largest among university presses.

Princeton University Press achieves a worldwide distribution of its books, and about 25 percent of them are sold abroad. The Press's largest foreign customers, in order, are: the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany, Holland, Italy, Australia, and India. Princeton's bestselling hardback book is the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching, or Book of Changes in the Bollingen Series, with over 400,000 copies sold. The bestselling paperback is R. R. Palmer's translation of Lefebvre's Coming of the French Revolution, sales of which exceeded 160,000.

The authors come from many different institutions and countries. About 25 percent are affiliated with the University. Others have come from a wide variety of colleges and universities in America and, in recent years, in Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Thus Princeton University Press, in fulfillment of its Charter, serves the University and the world of scholarship through printing and publishing. Its motto is: ``Putting Knowledge to Work.

Herbert S. Bailey, Jr.


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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