Nancy Ellegate: The increasing importance of certain parts of the world. For example, we need new work on India as new realities replace old stereotypes in the wake of the country’s continuing economic development. One such book is A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two is Not One by Anantanand Rambachan, which discusses the Hindu tradition of Advaita Vedanta in light of contemporary concerns about patriarchy, homophobia, ecological crisis, child abuse and inequality.
Russia is also in a state of flux, and scholars are beginning to turn their gaze to the Putin era (which, if you’ll forgive the metaphor, remains a moving target).
Beth Bouloukos: We’re also getting an increasing number of proposals in media studies, porn studies and the trans experience. Beyond Explicit: Pornography and the Displacement of Sex by Helen Hester is our first foray into porn studies, and next year we’ll be publishing Explicit Utopias: Rewriting the Sexual in Women’s Pornography by Amalia Ziv.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Nancy: More books on lived religion or “religion on the ground”—that is, religion as it is being practiced by people today across beliefs and in a variety of settings, rather than just books on text, theory, and elite clerical observance and understanding. This remains one of the most interesting and in-demand areas of the scholarly (and sometimes crossover) market yet one of the most underserved. We started a series on Buddhism and American culture recently, and one of the forthcoming titles next year will be Buddhism beyond Borders: New Perspectives on Buddhism in the United States, edited by Scott A. Mitchell and Natalie E.F. Quli.
Women’s experience in religion also remains of great interest, and we’ll be publishing Elizabeth Ursic’s Women, Ritual, and Power: Placing Female Imagery of God in Christian Worship in the fall.
Beth: We need more scholarly books on the digital age, such as Shaka McGlotten’s Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality (which we just released in paperback). There’s been a lot of popular journalism and popularly reported scholarship on this topic, but good scholarly books on this phenomenon in various locations and populations across the globe would be of much interest
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Nancy: Festschrifts—collections of essays in honor of a scholar at the end of his or her career.
Books that feel they need to use French critical theory for subjects that have nothing to do with French critical theory. This is so over.
Mundane memoirs. Every life is valuable, but not every life is the basis for a memoir with a wide audience. Unless there is something of great reader interest, such as the setting or circumstances having particular appeal, there’s just too much out there. If there’s not a catch for readers in a setting or circumstance, the author has to have great literary skill to get much attention.
Beth: Academic memoirs by administrators. Scholarly publishers see a lot of these. Few of them see the light of publication.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Nancy: The academic market endures despite ongoing predictions of its demise. This is the place scholarship is published: ideas and learned observations that are intended for the long haul. As a society, we have not replaced this with pop journalism or Twitter feeds. At least not yet.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Beth: Although they’re often characterized as hidebound and behind-the-times, university presses and other scholarly publishers are doing a lot to offer work in new formats, such as e-books and e-chapters, and using print-on-demand to keep their backlists in print. At SUNY Press, e-books make up about 15 percent of our sales, and the vast majority of our backlist is now available through POD, which allows us to sell directly into European and Asian markets through POD vendors there, rather than shipping books thousands of miles and making customers wait for weeks or even months to receive their books.
Nancy Ellegate has over 25 years’ experience in academic publishing and is currently a senior acquisitions editor at SUNY Press, where she acquires books in religious studies, Asian studies and transpersonal psychology.
Beth Bouloukos received her doctorate in Hispanic studies from Cornell University and has taught at Fairfield University and the University at Albany, SUNY. She is currently a senior acquisitions editor at SUNY Press, where she acquires books in education, Hispanic studies, queer studies, and women’s and gender studies.