Texas A&M University Press, a longtime member of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses), is proud to celebrate University Press Week (UP Week).


A common understanding of university presses is that we exist to publish scholarly monographs, journals, and other formats to raise the profile of our parent institutions and to uphold the highest standards of academic research and discourse. That understanding alone should be enough to explain why university presses matter. If no one sets and maintains a standard of published academic research, then what good is the idea of a “standard” at all? Yet, this understanding is perhaps just a little too short-sighted. What is one of the biggest surprises about university presses in the last ten years? One answer to that question would be our growing popularity outside the scholarly arena.


Texas A&M University Press is lauded for natural history books, military studies, and other subjects that lean into the fields of study for which Texas A&M University is known. But, over the last ten years, we began acquiring more books in areas that, while still connected to our mission, are not purely academic—areas like art, literature, current events, and more trade-oriented cultural studies. We still subject these books to the same rigorous vetting process of peer review and approval by the faculty advisory committee (something that sets us apart from commercial publishers), knowing that these books will only enhance our scholarly reputation. So many of these books are now popular staples in bookstores, specialty stores, and more across Texas and the country. 


In addition to the scholarly book awards our authors regularly win, we have added some pretty big awards not always given to public university academic presses—awards like the Western Heritage Award and the National Outdoor Book Award. We have sold out of new book print runs in a matter of weeks. Our authors are regularly featured in popular book festivals, in high profile speaking panels, and in media stories. Our books are out there connecting with the world at large and resonating with new and diverse audiences. 


Texas A&M University Press is definitely not alone. While some university presses have long been enjoying popular recognition, seeing their books appear on the New York Times Best Sellers list and winning major national awards (be sure to check out AUPresses’s A Decade of Award Winners list during this year’s UP Week), a growing number of the rest of us are reaching these same levels of attention. I have traveled extensively for years to visit bookstores that carry Texas A&M University Press books, and I have not only witnessed a significant increase in the variety and volume of our books but an increase in the variety and volume of university press books in general. We university presses might be stalwarts of academic publishing, but one thing is very clear: we are actively competing with commercial publishers in the trade market. 


Surprise! University presses are changing the world yet again, and this time we are doing it outside of academia.


“Keep UP!”, the 2021 University Press Week theme, marks our tenth anniversary and celebrates how university presses have evolved over the past decade.

Our inaugural UP Week theme, back in 2012, was “Contributing to an Informed Society”—in the ten years since, the university press community has stayed true to this goal, keeping up the highest standards of scholarship and championing the power of ideas. As the world changes, so do university presses, adapting subject areas, author lists, and publishing know-how to grow into an ever more diverse, ever more global community. An informed society is as important as ever, and we are proud to honor the forward-thinking work that has made university presses leaders in their fields and a force to keep up with!


AUPresses is featuring publications and projects that illustrate how university presses around the world are a force to keep up with. Find our forthcoming book, Making Space for Women: Stories from Trailblazing Women of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on this list along with many other excellent examples from fellow UP community members:  Keep UP Gallery and Reading List



Click here to find out more about UP Week and how Texas A&M University Press is marking the occasion.