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Valerie McClanahan Kerschbaum
IU Press
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Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

IU Press turns 60

Feb. 10, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Press is 60 years old this year, and it is celebrating the milestone with a special online sale and a recounting of highlights from its history. Since 1950, IU Press has been serving the world of scholarship and culture as an award-winning academic publisher specializing in the humanities and social sciences.

With the publication of approximately 140 new books each year, in addition to 29 journals, it maintains a backlist of some 2,000 titles and is considered one of the largest public university presses. It includes the regional publishing imprint Quarry Books and subject area specialities in African, African American, Asian, cultural, Jewish and Holocaust, Middle East, Russian and East European, and women's and gender studies; anthropology, film, history, bioethics, music, paleontology, philanthropy, philosophy and religion.


Janet Rabinowitch has directed IU Press since 2003

Print-Quality Photo

IU Press publications have been honored by the Academy of Criminal Justice, the American Historical Association, the Association of Black Women Historians, the Children's Literature Association, the Gustavus Myers Center, the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, and the National Jewish Book Awards. Its titles have received the Amaury Talbot Award, the African Studies Association Text Prize, the Conover-Porter Award, the Herskovits Prize, and the Salo Wittmayer Baron Book Prize and other top awards in publishing.

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, IU Press will mark its 60th birthday with a one-day online sale featuring 60 percent off all regularly-priced books, journals, and DVDs. To redeem the discount, enter code SIXTY at checkout. For more information visit:

IU Press Fast Facts

  • IU Press was founded in 1950 by IU President Herman B Wells as part of the university's post-war growth spurt. Bernard B. Perry, son of Harvard philosophy professor Ralph Barton Perry, was hired as the first director. He was aided by one part-time secretarial assistant.
  • IU Press's first book, a translation of Edouard de Montulé's Travels in America, 1816-1817, was published in March 1951. Edward D. Seeber, IU professor of French, was the translator. Six books were published the first year.
  • L.S. Ayres, an Indianapolis-based department store, supported the press's early efforts by promoting its books to its customers and selling them in its bookstore.
  • In 1952, IU Press was granted full membership with the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). The staff had grown to five full-time and two part-time employees.
  • Rolfe Humphries's translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, first published in 1955, is the press's all-time bestseller, having sold more than 500,000 copies to date.
  • During its first decade in operation, the press published more than 200 books and increased sales from zero in 1950 to $167,000 in 1959-1960.
  • IU Press received a generous grant from the Ford Foundation in 1959 (renewed several times) to encourage scholarly publication in the humanities and social sciences.
  • From 1951-1959, IU Press was located at the Wylie House, built in 1835 as the residence of Andrew Wylie, IU's first president. In 1960, it moved to its current home in the former offices of the Showers Brothers' furniture factory.
  • In 1965, the Press received the Centennial Medal, the highest prize of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, for its role in preserving Civil War history. Press staff had grown to 30.
  • During the 1960s and 1970s, the press launched several new series, including Russian and East European Studies, History and Theory of Linguistics, Advances in Semiotics, The American West in the Twentieth Century, and America since World War II. It published prominent authors such as Northrop Frye, Langston Hughes, and Umberto Eco.
  • IU Press's 1967 translation of volume 1 of Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers won a National Book Award. It was followed by a second National Book Award in 1970 for a translation of Bertolt Brecht's Saint Joan of the Stockyards.
  • Bernard Perry retired as director in 1976 and was replaced by John Gallman. Under Gallman's stewardship, the press focused on the academic strengths of IU.
  • IU Press published Paul R. Clancy's Just a Country Lawyer: A Biography of Senator Sam Ervin in 1974, just as Ervin became a national celebrity as chair of the Senate Watergate Committee.
  • Under the editorships of Joan Catapano and Susan Fernandez, the press pioneered in the publication of women's, feminist, and gender studies.
  • The press's annual sales approached $2 million by 1980.
  • The press's Journals Division started in 1987 with three journals and grew to 12 by 1992, 26 by 2005 29 today.
  • Annual sales reached $4.1 million by 1989-1990.
  • Friends of the Press, an organization for private donors, was established in 1992.
  • During the 1990s, the press experimented with new publishing technologies, bringing out a companion CD-ROM to Africa, an earlier print success, and a CD-ROM "textbook" on human origins.
  • By the end of John Gallman's tenure as director in 2000, the press was publishing 150 books annually, its sales had risen to close to $7 million, and there were 50 full-time staff members.
  • Peter-John Leone was director of the press from 2000 until 2003. He was replaced by Janet Rabinowitch as interim director at the end of the 2003 fiscal year.
  • Rabinowitch was appointed director in July 2004. She has been with the press since 1975.
  • The press launched Quarry Books, an imprint dedicated to regional topics, in 2004.
  • In 2008, the IU Press blog was named one of the "Top 100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter."
  • In May 2009, Rabinowitch made Book Business magazine's first "50 Top Women in Book Publishing" list.
  • In the summer of 2009, the press launched IU Press Online, a collection of electronic editions of some of the press's best books and themed journal issues. IUPO now includes more than 430 full-text titles.
  • During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Press will publish 149 books and 78 journal issues. Ten to 15 percent of IU Press books are authored by IU faculty, and nine of the Press's 29 journals are edited at IU.