Industry News

  • Announcing Some of Our Major Award Winners

    Congress 2019 is now nearing the finishing line, and we are proud to announce that our authors are taking home some important book awards. So with that in mind, we thought we would pull together a list of some our major award recipients during Congress, and over the past few months. Scroll down to see some of the recipients, as we send out a big congratulations to our authors for their achievements.


    Canadian Historical Association

    Winner of the CHA 2019 Clio Prairies Book Award

    Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985 by Valerie J. Korinek

    Prairie Fairies draws upon a wealth of oral, archival, and cultural histories to recover the experiences of queer urban and rural people in the prairies. Focusing on five major urban centres, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Calgary, Prairie Fairies explores the regional experiences and activism of queer men and women by looking at the community centres, newsletters, magazines, and organizations that they created from 1930 to 1985.

    Also a winner of the 2019 Jennifer Welsh Scholarly Writing Award on behalf of the Saskatchewan Book Awards.


     Winner of the CHA 2019 Clio Ontario Book Award

    One Job Town: Work, Belonging, and Betrayal in Northern Ontario by Steven High

    There’s a pervasive sense of betrayal in areas scarred by mine, mill, and factory closures. Steven High’s One Job Town delves into the long history of deindustrialization in the paper-making town of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, located on Canada’s resource periphery. One Job Town approaches deindustrialization as a long term, economic, political, and cultural process, which did not begin and simply end with the closure of the local mill in 2002.

    Also a winner of the 2018 OHS Fred Landon Award.


    Winner of the CHA 2019 Best Political History Book Prize Award

    Selling Out or Buying In?: Debating Consumerism in Vancouver and Victoria, 1945-1985 by Michael Dawson

    Selling Out or Buying In? is the first work to illuminate the process by which consumers’ access to goods and services was liberalized and deregulated in Canada in the second half of the twentieth century. Michael Dawson’s engagingly written and detailed exploration of the debates amongst everyday citizens and politicians regarding the pros and cons of expanding shopping opportunities challenges the assumption of inevitability surrounding Canada’s emergence as a consumer society.


    Canadian Sociological Association

    Winner of the CSA 2019 John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award

    Regulating Professions: The Emergence of Professional Self-Regulation in Four Canadian Provinces by Tracey L. Adams

    In Regulating Professions, Tracey L. Adams explores the emergence of self-regulating professions in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia from Confederation to 1940. Adams’s in-depth research reveals the backstory of those occupations deemed worthy to regulate, such as medicine, law, dentistry, and land surveying, and how they were regulated.


    Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies

    Winner of the CAWLS 2019 Book Prize

    Working towards Equity: Disability Rights Activism and Employment in Late Twentieth-Century Canada by Dustin Galer

    In Working towards Equity, Dustin Galer argues that paid work significantly shaped the experience of disability during the late twentieth century. Using a critical analysis of disability in archival records, personal collections, government publications, and a series of interviews, Galer demonstrates how demands for greater access among disabled people for paid employment stimulated the development of a new discourse of disability in Canada.


    Canadian Political Science Association

    Loleen Berdahl, Winner of the 2019 CPSA Prize for Teaching Excellence

    Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD, by Loleen Berdahl and Jonathan Malloy

    Work Your Career shows PhD students how to use the unique opportunities of doctoral programs to build successful career outcomes. The authors encourage students to consider both academic and non-academic career options from the outset, and to prepare for both concurrently. The book presents a systematic mentoring program full of practical advice for social sciences and humanities PhD students in Canada.


    Other Recent Award Winners

    Winner of the 2019 JW Dafoe Book Prize

    Power, Politics, and Principles: Mackenzie King and Labour, 1935-1948 by Taylor Hollander

    Set against the backdrop of the U.S. experience, Power, Politics, and Principles uses a transnational perspective to understand the passage and long-term implications of a pivotal labour law in Canada. Utilizing a wide array of primary materials and secondary sources, Hollander gets to the root of the policy-making process, revealing how the making of P.C. 1003 in 1944, a wartime order that forced employers to the collective bargaining table, involved real people with conflicting personalities and competing agendas.


    Winner of the 2019 Pierre Savard Award for Outstanding Scholarly Monograph in French or English on a Canadian Topic

    A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada by Benjamin Authers

    In A Culture of Rights, Benjamin Authers reads novels by authors including Joy Kogawa, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, and Jeanette Armstrong alongside legal texts and key constitutional rights cases, arguing for the need for a more complex, interdisciplinary understanding of the sources of rights in Canada and elsewhere. He suggests that, at present, even when rights are violated, popular insistence on Canada’s rights-driven society remains.


    Winner of the 2018 Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize awarded on behalf of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts

    Measured Words: Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy by Arielle Saiber

    Measured Words investigates the rich commerce between computation and writing that proliferated in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Arielle Saiber explores the relationship between number, shape, and the written word in the works of four exceptional thinkers: Leon Battista Alberti’s treatise on cryptography, Luca Pacioli’s ideal proportions for designing Roman capital letters, Niccolò Tartaglia’s poem embedding his solution to solving cubic equations, and Giambattista Della Porta’s curious study on the elements of geometric curves.


    Winner of the 2018 American Association for Ukrainian Studies Book Prize

    Imperial Urbanism in the Borderlands: Kyiv, 1800-1905 by Serhiy Bilenky

    In Imperial Urbanism in the Borderlands, Serhiy Bilenky examines issues of space, urban planning, socio-spatial form, and the perceptions of change in imperial Kyiv. Combining cultural and social history with urban studies, Bilenky unearths a wide range of unpublished archival materials and argues that the changes experienced by the city prior to the revolution of 1917 were no less dramatic and traumatic than those of the Communist and post-Communist era.


    Winner of the 2018 American Association for Ukrainian Studies Book Prize for Translation

    My Final Territory: Selected Essays by Yuri Andrukhovych, edited by Michael M. Naydan, and translated by Mark Andryczyk and Michael M. Naydan

    My Final Territory is a collection of Andrukhovych’s philosophical, autobiographical, political, and literary essays, which demonstrate his enormous talent as an essayist to the English-speaking world. This volume broadens Andrukhovych’s international audience and will create a dialogue with Anglophone readers throughout the world in a number of fields including philosophy, history, journalism, political science, sociology, and anthropology.


    Winner of the 2018 Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize

    American Little Magazines of the Fin de Siecle: Art, Protest, and Cultural Transformation by Kirsten MacLeod

    In American Little Magazines of the Fin de Siecle, Kirsten MacLeod examines the rise of a new print media form – the little magazine – and its relationship to the transformation of American cultural life at the turn of the twentieth century. MacLeod’s study challenges conventional understandings of the little magazine as a genre and emphasizes the power of “little” media in a mass-market context.

  • Human Teaching in Hard Times: An Interview with Dr. Alan Sears by Dr. Tonya Davidson

    In this guest post, Tonya Davidson (Carleton University), sociology professor and co-editor (with Ondine Park) of the forthcoming book Seasonal Sociology, talks with Alan Sears (Ryerson University) about teaching in higher education during these dark times. From the cost of tuition to the challenge of making liberal arts relevant, and the search for a pedagogy that forges not just practical but human relationships, this wide-ranging discussion tackles the contradictions of teaching and learning in a neoliberal age.


    In October 2018, Dr. Alan Sears visited Carleton University to be featured in the Department of Sociology-Anthropology’s Colloquium Series. He gave an excellent talk titled, “Resistance in Right Populist Times.”

    Alan is an accomplished scholar of sexualities, left politics, social movements, and education. His writing includes Retooling the Mind Factory: Education in a Lean StateThe Next New Left: A History of the Future (Fernwood) and (with James Cairns) The Democratic Imagination: Envisioning Popular Power in the Twenty-First Century, as well as the now-classic A Good Book in Theory. While celebrated for his scholarship, Alan is also a very dedicated and thoughtful teacher. When I was his colleague at Ryerson University for four years, he was one of my key teaching mentors so I jumped at the chance to ask Alan to also be our guest for the first “Teaching Talk” of the semester in the Sociology-Anthropology Department. Predicting that his thoughts on teaching could easily find a wider audience than the group of colleagues gathered in our departmental lounge, I transcribed that interview and present it for you here.

    TD: You proposed the title for this talk, “Human Teaching in Hard Times.” Can you tell us what hard times you’re referring to?

    AS: I guess the hard times I am thinking of probably have geo-political origins. The long impact of neoliberalism and cutbacks and austerity have had a huge effect on what it is like to be teaching at a post-secondary level. One of the aspects of this is the stress that students are under because of tuition fees, because of the employment they are doing to get by, because of what housing is like now, and because of their deep anxieties about the future. The questions that are always in their minds are: what are they going to do with their degrees and what’s next in their lives?

    And then the character of instruction is increasingly supposed to be efficient in content delivery with a real emphasis on information transfer. I think that the shift in the idea of what learning and teaching is supposed to be is increasingly to think of students as materials we are mass producing and the final consumer of what we are producing is the employer. So that has an impact on us in terms of metrics, which in post-secondary education means measurable outcomes in terms of what students could do before and after. Look, I think we can learn a lot by focusing on the learning that is accomplished rather than the teaching that we do, but I also think there is a whole human growth element in education that is flattened by a lot of outcomes discussions.

    The scale, at least at Ryerson where I teach, is that most classes are 70 students or more. I teach our capstone course and it’s 100 plus students. The nature of that makes human relations very difficult. I think the most transformative part of any educational relationship, which are always mutual relationships if they work properly, is a human relationship.

    TD: Students have always had anxiety to a degree. Have you noticed a change in your thirty years of teaching?

    AS: Absolutely.

    TD: How do you deal with that within your own institutional constraints? How do you deal with student anxiety?

    AS: I find it a real challenge. I saw a chart recently that someone had developed showing the history of tuition fee increases in Ontario and the pay rates for summer employment. I was an undergraduate student at Carleton University in 1973 which happened to be the year that tuition in Ontario was at its lowest in real dollars. That corresponded with, because of government funding, relative ease at getting summer jobs that paid quite well, so I could earn enough money in the summer to pretty much cover my year, including tuition. Now tuition fees are higher and there are fewer summer jobs with decent pay. Students are working more hours for less pay, building up higher debts, and they are worried about their future given the difficulty of obtaining secure employment.

    I think that is a formula for generating anxiety, and it’s really noticeable in all kinds of ways. We’ve never been particularly good at raising a discussion about what comes after a degree, but I notice it particularly now in a very sharp anxiety about what the relationship is between an undergraduate education in sociology and what follows.

    It’s not like Harvard or Oxford are getting the question, “why aren’t you teaching more forestry?”

    I think that the model we have is an elite model that presumes that when people graduate, their class-based networks that are gendered and racialized and have a lot to do with migration status, will surf them between graduation and wherever they’re going next. So if they’re interested in a job in so and so, their mother will call their uncle who works in that area. And that works for some. In the film The Graduate, the summer after graduation was spent by the pool with parents’ friends advising you to get into plastics or whatever was hot at the time. Very few students have the luxury of a summer by the pool or parents’ friends who can give them advice about various sectors, or who can afford a free internship, or who have a way of knowing about occupations that are different from what they’ve been exposed to so far in their lives.

    So I think the anxiety is real, and I think it’s incredibly sharp, and it sometimes plays itself out as hostility towards us. I’ve noticed a certain tension around grades, a kind of a more hostile bargaining because that seems to be something that you can deal with more directly. And textbooks, that’s another pain point: “why is this book so expensive?” Sadly, for a lot of other things, like tuition fees or class sizes, there’s little active opposition because there is a feeling that you can’t do anything about it. I think the anxiety plays out in many ways.

    TD: Professors have different attitudes about whether there is a place in a sociology program for teaching school-to-work transition skills, or other career-focused projects. How do you approach that, especially in your capstone course?

    AS: This is one of the contradictions I continually negotiate. Because I am a committed political critic of the system, I understand when people talk about concern that the neoliberalization of the post-secondary system means, for working class people, a much more occupational focus, and there’s no doubt this happens. And yet if you look at what’s happening in Britain and the US for example, there is a desire to preserve liberal arts education, but only for the elite. It’s not like Harvard or Oxford are getting the question, “why aren’t you teaching more forestry?” That message is something that is very specifically aimed at institutions with a working-class clientele. And I think the concern is that a liberal arts education creates inflated expectations for everyone without differentiating between students with varying life trajectories. Policy-makers are interested in changing that system, particularly in Canada where the university system tends to be more social democratic, to create a more hierarchical system where liberal arts play a smaller role. This is especially the case in institutions that have historically included a higher proportion of working class and first-generation students, like Ryerson or Windsor where I have taught. There’s a part of me that thinks, well let’s resist that push and let’s fight and honour a liberal arts education. I really do believe that that’s necessary and I think the greatest bulk of a student’s education in sociology or anthropology or whatever they are taking should absolutely be in a proud liberal arts tradition that’s challenging students to think critically and so on.

    I also think there’s a serious equity issue around being honest about the fact that the transition to work is difficult and we have really failed on our end. We feel like we’ve done our job by pushing them off a cliff at graduation and waving goodbye and giving them a certificate. I think we owe them more. I don’t think career integration needs to consume a lot of the curriculum. I think little bits of it, strategically inserted, can go a long way. We shouldn’t distort the curriculum.

    We’re doing a pilot course this year called “career integration” for fourth-year students where they’ll get to do a job shadow experience in a workplace that’s of interest. We’re also building in self-advocacy around worker rights and the like, but also stuff like resume preparation, sample interviews, and how to claim a sociology education in a job interview so you don’t just say “well it’s because I hated English.” At the very least, it gives students a way of describing what they got out of their degree, or, in some cases, just creating space for them to figure out if they got anything out of it. I believe seriously that there’s a class, racial, equity, and migration justice built into this experiment. If we want to simply claim that we do liberal arts in a pure way, we are ignoring the socio-economic relations that surround the institution and the histories that inform our ideas about what a liberal arts education is.

    TD: Have you noticed in shifting hard times, different types of student engagement with questions of free speech, bias, and felt that through hostility?

    AS: I think I’m fairly fortunate that Ryerson is a downtown Toronto campus with a very high first-generation student body; roughly 60% of the students in our program identify as racialized. The nature of who the student body is means that a lot of the pro-equity ideas are taken for granted, and few students will stand up and challenge fundamental notions of social justice. And I think there’s some self-selection there too because our program is quite equity-focused. I think the students who are most likely going to be upset about that transfer out of our program. I personally haven’t faced it that much.

    One of the things that’s happened is that we’ve made our “Indigenous Perspectives on Canadian Society” course required, and it is taught with a very Indigenous-centric perspective that presumes settler colonialism, presumes Indigenous sovereignty, and presumes that universities are colonial institutions. I would guess that course will be one of the litmus tests in our department. I would guess that will be one of the places where even people who know that they’re not supposed to say something racist might express discomfort. That’s the way that settler colonialism operates, it creates a kind of entitlement that may lead to a different order of challenges from students. Certainly, I know people who teach in the US, and other places in Ontario who talk about how much their students have been emboldened to challenge even the most basic equity stuff in classes, but so far, I feel like I’m in a little bit of a bubble around that.

    TD: Those two initiatives at Ryerson – the “Indigenous Perspectives on Canadian Society” course as a mandatory course and the “Career Integration” course both sound like great responses, or pedagogical forms of resistance to these hard times. One of the things that has always struck me about you, Alan, is how you are simultaneously very critical of post-secondary education, and broader political and social structures, but somehow seem stubbornly optimistic. So my final question is: what do you find hopeful about teaching sociology in “hard times”?

    AS: I think that most students are very perceptive and critical about the injustice in the world today. They do not have illusions that this is the “best of all worlds” or a meritocracy. They know someone is making a killing off of the precariousness and suffering so many face.

    The challenge is that they might think that this is the “best of all possible worlds” – and that they do not see a better world as possible, particularly through their own actions. So there is a real base among our students for a new radicalization, if they can begin to realize the power they have to change the world. But that radicalization will not happen through the classroom, which even at its best is a site of alienated labour. For me, human teaching is about trying to reduce the damage done in post-secondary education while working outside the institution to build the movements and counter-power that can challenge these injustices.


    For more on millennials, education, and social movements we suggest: The Democratic Imagination and The Myth of the Age of Entitlement.

  • University of Toronto Press Moves Offices to Accommodate New Book Publishing Division


    TORONTO - Canada’s largest scholarly publisher, University of Toronto Press (UTP), has outgrown the office it has called home for the past thirty years. On Monday, April 16, UTP’s book publishing staff from editorial, sales, marketing, design and production, as well as its human resources and administrative teams will settle into a brand new, state-of-the-art office space at the corner of Bay and College, in downtown Toronto.

    The move is part of a re-structuring for UTP’s much lauded publishing program. After a decade of operating on parallel paths, and in separate cities, the company’s Scholarly Publishing and Higher Education divisions are coming together under one roof. Moving forward, these two groups will join forces and resources as part of UTP’s Book Publishing Division.

    “Our new office is symbolic of the confidence we have in the future of scholarly publishing and in UTP itself,” says UTP’s Chief Executive Officer, John Yates.  “Consolidating the book publishing teams will make us more nimble and puts us in a better position to respond to the needs of our authors and customers, both at home and around the world.”

    The company’s spacious new location boasts an open-concept design, natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and cutting-edge technologies. All of the workstations and panels are constructed from recycled materials, which represents more than an aesthetic consideration, according to Lynn Fisher, UTP’s Vice President, Book Publishing.

    “Being environmentally responsible is a corporate priority for us as a book publisher,” says Fisher. “Over the past few years, UTP has become widely seen as a major platform for new work in urban planning and environmental studies. That’s another reason we’d be remiss to not build a ‘healthier’ work space.”  

    UTP’s Book Publishing Division will be located at 800 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A9. Phone numbers and email addresses are unchanged. Contact information for the company’s Journals, Retail and Distribution divisions remains the same.

    Founded in 1901, University of Toronto Press (UTP) is Canada’s leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America, releasing over 200 new scholarly, reference, and general-interest books each year, as well as maintaining a backlist of over 3500 titles in print. For more information, visit utorontopress.com.

  • 'Unbound': Winner of the 2018 Kobzar Literary Award

    Guest post by Dr. Lindy Ledohowski

    “Identities – ethnocultural, gendered, socio-economic, minoritized, regional – are interesting facets of who we are. Often we both are and are not multiple selves simultaneously, and as we asked authors to contribute to this collection, the key question we wanted them to think about was this: What does Ukrainian Canadian-ness mean to them in contemporary Canada? We were both surprised and pleased with their responses.

    This book demonstrates that on close scrutiny, as with any vibrant and dynamic community, there may be more divisions than similarities among the views of individual Ukrainian Canadians. More than sixty years have passed since the first English-language Ukrainian Canadian novel was published, and the literature playing with notions of what it means to be Ukrainian Canadian suggests that it means many things to many people. This book explores the spaces where, in the words of Myrna Kostash, “our collective, though not necessarily common, interests coincide.” And while this exploration uses Ukrainian Canadian (in all its iterations) as its focusing lens, it speaks to other minoritized subject positions in Canada and abroad, and perhaps most loudly to contemporary mainstream Canada as well.”

    So begins the introduction to Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home. In thinking about identity politics and contemporary Canada, as diasporic and postcolonial scholars who focus on contemporary Canadian literature both Lisa Grekul and I approached co-editing a collection focusing on English-language Ukrainian Canadian literature in a radical way.

    As scholars, both Grekul and I are committed to multiplicity to identities rather than a single, hegemonic way of looking at the world. When we asked our contributors to provide something for the book we envisioned creating, we wanted to give them the greatest degree of openness we could.

    We did not want to constrain their voices, which meant that we did not want to constrain their generic or stylistic choices. It also meant that we were committed to a consultative and collaborative process to bring this book to fruition.

    The book, as a result is an expression not only of some of the best thinking and writing about contemporary Canadian identity politics and literature, but also an articulation of being “unbound” by genre or expectation. This book is profoundly scholarly and profoundly creative simultaneously. And its creation is the culmination of the best feminist practice that we lived over years to pull it together.

    We are terribly and justifiably proud of this book.

    Then when we found out that it was a finalist for the 2018 Kobzar Literary Award, a nation-wide literary prize in Canada that is only offered every two years, we were over the moon.

    Then on March 1st when the winner was announced and Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home became the 2018 Kobzar Literary Award winner, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

    Grekul was in the middle of a busy teaching term at UBC, Okanagan on the other side of Canada from the Toronto-based gala awards night, and I was glued to my iPhone in Kuala Lumpur 13 hours ahead of Toronto.

    Marusya Bociurkiw, one of the contributors who has also been a Kobzar finalist before, represented us, and when she texted me: “WE WON!” I thought she must be joking. As Twitter exploded with the announcement, and Bociurkiw pulled another contributor onto stage with her Erin Moure – who was also a finalist this year in her own right – we all felt the years of hard work being recognized.

    This book is important. This book is revolutionary. This book is interesting. This book is powerful. This book is political. This book is beautiful.

    And this book is a nation-wide literary prize winner.

    On behalf of my co-editor, Dr. Lisa Grekul, I must thank our amazing, talented, intelligent, and formidable contributors:
    Maruysia Bociurkiw
    Elizabeth Bachinsky
    Janice Kulyk Keefer
    Myrna Kostash
    Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
    Erin Moure
    Daria Salamon and Weronika Suchacka who wrote the preface and Natalka Husar who allowed her painting '500 people you didn’t know' to be used as the cover art.

    Lisa Grekul is a novelist and associate professor in the Department of Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

    Lindy Ledohowski is an educational leader and literary scholar. She serves on the board of trustees for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

  • Selling the Books that Matter: Experiences of a Higher Ed Sales Rep

    In our third blog post for University Press Week (running November 6-11), our Higher Education sales representative, Mike Byer, shares his experiences from the road. In particular, he explores the impact that selling books with powerful messages can have both on their intended audiences but also on those charged with the task of bringing them to a wider public. This year's theme for UP Week is #LookItUP: Knowledge Matters.

    I’ve been a book rep for University of Toronto Press since August of 2012. In the past five years we’ve published so many great books, but my favourite book is still from the fall of 2012. Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism was the first book that I had a lot of success selling, and anyone who’s worked in sales will understand why that makes me think fondly of it. But there’s also more to it than that. This book was fundamental to helping me understand the role of gender in society; it helped change how I see myself and my relationships.

    My initial success with Feminisms Matter was mostly due to the fact that it’s a great book with a unique approach. It’s a textbook with a bit of an attitude. In this case, you can judge the book by the cover. However, as I continued to make my sales pitch on campuses across North America, I began to notice that the arguments made in the book were starting to come out of my mouth in non-work situations. It was never an intentional decision, but I began to use my own experience in my sales pitch. It just made sense to me that if this book could have this kind of effect on a 30-year-old male, then it would certainly make an impact on 18-year-olds who were still trying to figure out a lot of these questions.

    Since 2012, I’ve had countless conversations about textbooks and their value in a classroom. Recently, I’ve noticed that the questions I hear from instructors have begun to change. There are still the usual concerns about cost and student engagement, but more and more I’m hearing anxiety about inclusion and student safety in the classroom. Instructors are asking how our books can teach about diversity, tolerance, and global citizenship. They are looking for books that are more than baskets of facts and charts. They are looking for books like Feminisms Matter.

    One example of this occurred earlier this year: It’s January 2017, and the weather in the Pacific Northwest is much more comfortable than at my home near Toronto. I have a bounce in my step as I walk to my rental car because this is the first time I’ve visited this school. Days like today feel like they are full of opportunity. At familiar schools, I’ve met with most professors several times. I know who is friendly and who isn’t interested. A new campus means all new faces and new conversations. Perhaps the previous book rep has been told a half dozen times that someone is happy with their books and stopped trying. I don’t know anything about that, so I knock on every open door.

    I follow the map to the Anthropology Department. We publish a lot of anthropology books, so I can have productive conversations with most anthropologists. When I see an open door, I check the nameplate, cross-check with my course and faculty lists, knock, and introduce myself: “Hi, my name’s Mike Byer. I’m a book rep from University of Toronto Press. Do you have a few minutes to chat about books?”

    I’m invited to sit down, and based on my course and faculty info, I start talking about our new intro to cultural anthropology text. This part of the meeting is a success. They’re interested in the new text, and I agree to send them a complimentary copy to review. As sometimes happens in these meetings, the conversation moves past the immediate sales pitch to other topics. In this case, we can’t avoid discussing the elephant in the room—the quickly approaching inauguration of Donald Trump.

    This professor is feeling a lot of anxiety about the new president and the impact his rhetoric during the campaign is having on the United States. Specifically, she is worried about the minority students on campus. This campus has a diverse student body, but it is located in smaller community that is not as diverse. She knows that some of her students are undocumented immigrants, and she sees students wearing visible symbols of their (non-Christian) religion, including hijabs and turbans. She asks for my perspective as a Canadian, and I explain that Trump’s rhetoric is also having an impact in Canada—hate crimes are getting more media attention, and Trump-like ideas are being promoted by candidates for the Conservative Party leadership. Canadian and American university campuses have many of the same controversies about free speech, safe spaces and inclusive language, and academic freedom.

    Eventually, we circle back around to textbooks and the challenge of teaching a diverse audience in a time when ideas of inclusion, tolerance, and citizenship are being contested. Of course, I jump at the chance to talk about Feminisms Matter and my own experience of having my eyes widened. It’s not an anthropology text, but it’s a great example of the power of a good book. This specific book spoke to me, but any of our books could have a similar effect on someone else.

    In the North American higher education market, UTP is a small fish. We publish great books, but sometimes people don’t hear about them. It’s my job to make sure as many people as possible have a chance to consider using them in their courses. Like any job, this can get tiring and repetitive. We’ve all had feelings of banging our head against a rock that won’t budge. On the days that campus is dreary and quiet, and I’d rather be anywhere else, I try to focus on Feminisms Matter. Not just because of the success I’ve had, but because I know that the books I’m selling can make a difference. That’s what keeps me knocking on the next open door…

    Mike Byer
    Publisher's Representative

    *  *  *

    This post is part of the University Press Week Blog Tour. Please visit our colleagues' blogs:

    University of Minnesota Press: Interviews with a few of their favorite booksellers.

    University of Hawai’i Press: A round-up of interesting, peer-reviewed facts published by their journals.

    Columbia University Press: A post by Conor Broughan, Northeast Sales Representative for the Columbia University Press Sales Consortium, discussing making sales calls during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    University Press of Kentucky: A guest post by UK Libraries exploring the societal benefits in university presses continuing to publish and readers continuing to have access to well-researched, low-controversy, long-form published content in an age of distraction, manufactured outrage, and hyper partisanship.

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