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University of Michigan Press
Headquarters Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Services Publishing in print and digital media
Parent University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Press is part of the University of Michigan Library and serves as a primary publishing unit of the University of Michigan, with special responsibility for the creation and promotion of scholarly, educational, and regional books and other materials in digital and print formats. The press mission is to use the best emerging digital technology to disseminate such information as freely and widely as possible while preserving the integrity of published scholarship.

The press publishes materials in a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines; produces educational texts for student audiences, with special emphasis on English language teaching (ESL); publishes information that advances public understanding of the many vexed political, social, and cultural issues faced by a global, multicultural society; and produces regional books that contribute to fiction and the arts, human history, natural history, and the changing environment of Michigan and the Great Lakes.



Publishing at the University of Michigan was going on well before the Press was officially established. As early as 1858, the University paid $200 to have a book on an asteroid published. It was titled Tables of Victoria. Early publishing activities also included presidential inauguration papers and conference proceedings. Over the next 72 years, the University continued to support publications published under the imprint of the University; however, the number of departmental publications grew to such an extent, that “the situation caused great inconvenience.” In order for the University to have better organization of the publishing activities, it centralized the publishing activities under a university press.

The University of Michigan Press was officially established in 1930 under Michigan's Graduate School to publish University materials such as conference proceedings and the 1931 Alumni Reading Lists. The 1950s saw the directorship of Fred Weick, the first professional publisher to be Press director, who used his many contacts to publish Russian literature (including Pasternak), as well as to start the History of the World series, the Ann Arbor Paperbacks (reprints for classroom use), and English language textbook program, with assistance from the English Language Institute.

In the 1960s, while the publishing success of the Press continued under Glen Gosling, staff overheads increased and the contribution from the University decreased. In the mid-70s, the new director tried to bring a more balanced publishing approach to the Press by increasing the number of trade and text titles. While the Press was able to show a modest balance, the faculty was concerned the Press was moving too far away from the mission of a university press.

At the end of the 1980s, the Press went through another restructuring so that nearly all of the titles it published were considered scholarly monographs, so that by 2001, the Press published over 220 titles, most of them scholarly monographs.

Over the 75 years of the Press’s existence, it has published materials in myriad formats, including records, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, on-line editions, paperbacks, and cloth editions. It has published books in other languages including Russian, Spanish, Greek and Latin.

Thanks to its new partnership with the University of Michigan Library in 2009 and the accompanying access to the University of Michigan Library’s impressive suite of related technology, the Press advanced into digital publication, continuing its special responsibility for the creation of scholarly, educational, and regional books and other materials in digital and print formats, seeking to use the best emerging digital technology to disseminate such information as freely and widely as possible while preserving the integrity of published scholarship.

Digital Transition

The University of Michigan Press and Director Phil Pochoda announced in early 2009 that Michigan would be the first university press in the world to be a primarily digital academic press, meaning that all manuscripts would be produced for digital dissemination to much wider audiences, with printed monographs available via high-quality print-on-demand technology for most academic monographs. The ESL and Trade publishing programs at the Press were not to be affected. This move represented an investment in the same technology and strategies that drove ebook and smart phone readership, in the effort to disseminate high-quality scholarship as widely as possible, with special attention paid to preserving the integrity of that scholarship.

The digital investment came with access to the University of Michigan Library's extensive array of electronic development, production, and distribution tools, and represented a serious investment in twenty-first century academic scholarship.


Pluto Press was distributed in the United States by the University of Michigan Press until 2008. In the fall of 2007 this arrangement became the subject of a controversy when a pro-Israel advocacy organization, StandWithUs, criticized the University of Michigan Press for distributing "anti-Semitic" books issued by Pluto Press, including those by Israel Shahak and Joel Kovel.

The controversy was not about the right of Kovel or Pluto to publish the work, rather, critics challenged was the propriety of a university press distributing books that did not meet stricter academic review and approval guidelines. Three University of Michigan regents called on U-M Press to end its relationship with Pluto Press. [1] The Regents criticized distribution of Kovel's book on the grounds that it "debases the press’ franchise and leaves the press and the university open to damage." [2] The U-M press suspended distribution of Pluto Press titles in August, but resumed distribution in October.

In January, 2008, the Press issued new Distribution Guidelines[3] that Pluto was unable to meet.[4] The guidelines call for "scholarly publishers whose mission is aligned with the mission of the UM Press and whose academic standards and processes of peer review are reasonably similar to those of the UM Press[3].


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