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University of Missouri Press announces streamlining plan


Christian Basi

March 17, 2009
Smaller team developing short- and long-term turnaround plans

The University of Missouri Press, founded in 1958, today announced it will refocus and streamline its publishing operations to stem growing financial losses and position it for long-term viability. The announcement follows an extensive review and assessment of its operations by five university press organizations in recent months.

"Our goal is to be fiscally independent, and we are developing a plan that will reduce our dependence on state funding while at the same time making our operations more efficient to better serve our authors and customers," said Dwight Browne, interim director of the University of Missouri Press. "We are cautiously optimistic because last year's net sales exceeded those of any year in the 50-year history of the Press. While the current national economic crisis is not the cause of our need to streamline, certainly it is imperative that we operate in a manner that recognizes the challenges faced by publishers throughout our nation."

To address budget shortfalls this year, the staff of the university press will be reduced from 18 to 11. The University of Missouri Press currently receives about $450,000 in state funding and publishes about 40 titles annually. An analysis of Press inventory during the past decade indicates that about 25 percent of the titles are from Missouri authors, including about 10 percent from University of Missouri faculty. About three-fourths of the titles have been generated by authors outside Missouri.

Browne said a review of the operations identified a number of challenges to be addressed, including inventory management, updating printing technology and complex workflows, as well as the challenges of declining state funding and the current economic environment for publishers.

"While we are developing our plans, we will continue to serve as a resource for our customers," he added. "There will be no interruption in services rendered or manuscripts prepared for publication. We know we face a bit of an uphill challenge, because our existence depends on sales, and book sales are at best unpredictable."

The University of Missouri Press reports to the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Missouri System and is located at 2910 Lemone Industrial Blvd. in Columbia.