Established in 1907, Fordham University Press (FUP) is the seventh-oldest university press in the country, as well as the nation’s oldest Catholic university press. Today, Fordham University Press publishes ninety books a year and continues to uphold its prestigious reputation. They are known for producing award-winning studies in the fields of anthropology, classics, communications, cultural studies, gender studies, history, literary studies, philosophy, political theory, race and ethnicity, religion, sociology, theology, and urban studies with a particular emphasis on creatively interdisciplinary work. Not only does FUP publish two books of poetry through the Poets Out Loud prize a year, but they also have a long history of publishing books focusing on the New York region.
We sat down with Fredric Nachbaur, Director for eight years, to learn more about Fordham University Press and their mission.
Q) What’s your hottest selling title?
A) Greek: An Intensive Course by Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn from our deep backlist. It published in the 1970’s (with a second edition in 1992) and has sold more than 35,000 since 1990 when we started keeping digital records. It continues to sell more than 1,200 annually from course adoptions. Giving an Account of Oneself by Judith Butler is one of our more recent hottest selling books. It has life sales of 15,000 print and 1,000 digital copies since it published in 2005 and sells 500 copies each year.
Q) What do you think makes a good book?
A) A good book offers a new interpretation of a topic that takes the reader on an unexpected journey. There is a point of view supported by research and expressed in an accessible way.
Q) What do you look at when signing authors?
A) Their willingness to put themselves out there. Authors who are shy do not help sell books. I come from a marketing background so this probably influences my assessment of an author. I have learned from experience, though, that authors who are not afraid to self-promote, sell more books.
Q) What’s the most unique book you’ve read from your collection?
A) City of Gods: Religious Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens by Scott Hanson. I learned about the deep religious history of this area and how it is currently the most religiously pluralistic city in the United States. Being a long-time New Yorker, I still learned something new about this great city of ours.
Q) What are your most important channels for title marketing?
A) Digital marketing is the most cost-effective and reaches a broad audience. Initiatives include daily web blasts, social media posts, and author blog pieces. It is more of an integrated marketing strategy.
Q) What's been your most memorable book launch?
A) We have had a few that have drawn some celebrities. One of our most memorable was for New York’s Golden Age of Bridges, illustrated by Antonio Masi and text by Joan Marans Dim. Gay Talese showed up and I was awestruck. To me a big-name author has more star power than an actor does.
Q) What differentiates your publishing house from others?
A) We have a small staff but manage to publish a significant number of books annually. Currently we have ten full-time employees and publish 80 books each year. That’s pretty impressive.
Q) How has the digital era affected your publishing house?
A) It has brought new readers to our list. Younger people who are more inclined to read digitally can now find our books on multiple platforms and in various formats. That is exciting. It has also influenced our workflow and brought us technologically into the new century. We simultaneously publish digital and print version of every book for which we have e-rights. We are also experimenting with new models such as essay-length pieces that will be sold as ebooks and printed on demand.