What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Nonfiction will be challenged in the era of “fake news” to bring curated, calm commentary on today’s issues. Easier said than done, I do think.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Actually, our building is old enough we still have transoms! I would love to see more in sustainability and resiliency—two areas of great importance to Florida. What Earth systems can and will withstand global warming and sea rise?
One of our recent books in this category is Sea Level Rise in Florida: Science, Impacts, and Options by Albert C. Hine, Don P. Chambers, Tonya D. Clayton, Mark R. Hafen, and Gary T. Mitchum. The accelerating pace of sea level rise is a trend that matters very much to our state, especially in areas of concentrated suburban development along the coasts. This book examines the cycle of sea levels in the past and the science behind the current measurements and the future projections. The authors are oceanographers based in the state who discuss ongoing and potential consequences for our natural marine and coastal systems as well as how we can begin to plan strategically for the inevitable changes.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
The American Civil War.
How do you work with self-published authors?
Very well, as long as (like most authors) their marketing and sales expectations are not out of reason. The hardest thing is telling them why we can’t clear their garage of excess stock.
What do you want to change about publishing?
Three things: The constant narrative that lumps university presses into the big, bad group of “commercial publishers” or “scholarly publishers” when in fact it really means Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, etc.; the idea that open access is free and less costly; and the erroneous idea that most costs in publishing are printing costs.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Our highly curated list of offerings with expert writers. Peer review and our editorial board are what really set us apart and help our works withstand the tests of time.
One example is a book we published earlier this year, Coconuts and Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South. This is both a cookbook and a memoir about growing up Latina in the Deep South. Author Von Diaz moved from Puerto Rico to Atlanta as a child, and the recipes in the book combine traditional Puerto Rican cuisine with contemporary Southern elements. The book is full of beautiful photos of the island and stories about how food helped Diaz discover her roots and process her own personal history. It’s a great example of a high-quality, curated title that reflects two subject areas that are important to the Press: Caribbean studies and the food and foodways of the Southeast.
In terms of upcoming books (and more expert authors!), we’re very excited about a few forthcoming releases in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Space history is one of our areas of specialty, and this fall we’re publishing Safely to Earth: The Men and Women Who Brought the Astronauts Home. Author Jack Clemons is a former lead engineer supporting NASA’s Apollo program and was also senior engineering software manager on the Space Shuttle program. His memoir is a behind-the-scenes look at these programs during their most exciting years, focusing on the unsung heroes of the missions who were responsible for bringing the astronauts back home to Earth.
Meredith Morris-Babb has been director of the University Press of Florida, based in Gainesville, for the past 12 years and was editor-in-chief for eight years prior. Meredith began her work in publishing with William C. Brown Publishing and has also served as acquisitions editor at the University of Tennessee Press. She is a past president of the Association of American University Presses.