Homegrown Businesses: Jessica Mosher of the University of Toronto Press

Article reposted with permission from the Toronto Guardian.


The University of Toronto Press (UTP) stands as Canada’s foremost scholarly publishing entity, renowned for its expansive reach and comprehensive services. Beyond its primary role as a leading publisher of numerous books and journals, UTP serves as a crucial distributor for a multitude of presses and publishers while overseeing the operations of the University of Toronto (UofT) Bookstores. By fostering the dissemination of knowledge and facilitating intellectual exchange, UTP actively contributes to the cultivation of innovative ideas and the promotion of diverse perspectives, nurturing a vibrant discourse across various platforms. We caught up with Jessica Mosher, President, Publisher and CEO, to learn more about their publications.

What is your business called and what does it do?

The University of Toronto Press (UTP) is Canada’s largest scholarly publisher. UTP is also a distributor and a retailer: publishing hundreds of books and journals, distributing for many other presses and publishers, and managing the University of Toronto (UofT) Bookstores. UTP plays an integral role in cultivating new ideas, sharing diverse perspectives, and enriching dialogue across multiple channels.

What made you want to do this work?

Our mission is to connect ideas for a better world, which I think has never been more relevant and critical, with our society feeling very fractured, and misinformation contributing to a great deal of polarization. With over 25 years of experience in the publishing sector, I have always been passionate about the power of education and the dissemination of credible, peer-reviewed content.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Our goal is to broaden access to educational materials and scholarly works, support students and academia, and ensure better representation of Canada’s diversity in our own resources, and through our partnerships with other publishers and booksellers.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Our publishing clientele includes our authors, as well as researchers and readers interested in scholarly and general interest books and journals, both in Canada and globally. We are very proud to work with students and faculty via our UofT Bookstores—which are also open to the public (and are a great local option to buy books, stationery, and more!). And finally, our clients and customers include the many publishers and bookstores we service through our Distribution Centre.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

While UTP is a not-for-profit university press, it generates revenue through the sale of books, e-books, and journals. We also earn income from managing the distribution process for other publishers and through our bookstore operations.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

We are based in Toronto, with bookstores across the three campuses: downtown Toronto, Scarborough, and Mississauga. Our reach extends across the country through our publishing and distribution services, as well as globally—with our books and journals being read around the world.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

We have different customers in the different parts of our organization, but I think one of the most relevant questions right now—for readers, authors, and publishers—is to ask how to ensure the quality and relevance of content. Our answer is to rely on rigorous peer-review processes and to work closely with authors to develop high-quality, relevant materials contributing to scholarship and broadening understanding.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part is seeing the impact of our and our partners’ publications, in advancing understanding of a topic and promoting thoughtful dialogue. The challenging part is navigating the digital transformations across our markets, although this challenge is also an exciting opportunity for innovation.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

People often joke that you don’t get into publishing for the money, but I think this goes both ways – regardless of what you earn, publishing is an industry filled with individuals who love books and knowledge. I feel very lucky to work with colleagues who share the same passion for consuming information and helping to make it more accessible.

Where can we follow you?

Readers can follow me on LinkedIn and find updates from UTP by visiting our website. You can also follow the University of Toronto bookstores’ Instagram for fun updates year-round.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

I love bookstores, not just the UofT Bookstores—when I walk in, I can spend hours. Toronto is full of an amazing selection. It is hard to pinpoint one, but Queen Books is in my neighbourhood, and they have a wonderful assortment of titles.

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