2023 AUPresses Directors Residency: Suzanne E. Guiod

Suzanne E. Guiod, Bucknell University Press, reports on visiting NYU Press

I was fortunate to spend February 27 through March 2, 2023 “in residence” at NYU Press as a guest of director Ellen Chodosh, a gracious and generous host. As the director of a tiny press in a relatively remote rural area, a three-hour drive to the nearest major city in any direction, spending time in New York City, and at a well-staffed and well-run press was a real boon.

Ellen created a structured schedule that allowed for plenty of one-on-one time with her, and also for meetings with each of NYU Press’s departmental managers and key staff members. I met at length with digital publishing specialist Jonathan Greenberg—a role shared by the press and library—and with acquisitions editors Jennifer Hammer and Clara Platter. Lunch with executive editor Ilene Kalish was enlightening and collegial, and I enjoyed a long talk with editor-in-chief Eric Zinner about industry changes over the last 30 years. Editing, design, and production manager Martin Coleman was also generous with his time and perspectives. I had particularly illuminating meetings with Mary Beth Jarrad, NYU Press’s experienced and pragmatic sales and marketing manager, and energetic publicist Jenny Rossberg, whose work on behalf of NYU’s books and authors is inspiring. I’ll be thinking about my conversations with Mary Beth and Jenny for a long time.

I particularly appreciated being able to attend two regular weekly meetings—the press’s production meeting and editorial meeting. While the structure and flow of both were familiar, it was edifying to witness how the managers ran those sessions and how feedback from such a large staff was efficiently fielded.

Ellen generously shared (nonproprietary) documents and templates with me for comparison purposes. We spoke at length about operating budgets, declining sales, and the financial profiles of presses of different sizes, including those distributed by other publishers. We discussed navigating different reporting lines, and how to advocate internally to administrators of various sorts. Particularly important to me was the opportunity to discuss the feasibility of reclaiming the rights to Bucknell’s backlist titles that were distributed by commercial entities from 1968 to 2018.

Ellen also arranged dinner with Fordham director Fred Nachbaur, Columbia director Jennifer Crewe, and Oxford president Niko Pfund, a unique opportunity for exposure to this dynamic brain trust and an entertaining evening overall!

The residency was stimulating and beneficial—a chance for frank discussions about the variables and complexities of our industry—and I feel I found a trusted advisor in Ellen. I’m enormously grateful to the AUPresses’ Board of Directors for selecting my application and for making this invaluable opportunity available to me and other new directors.