GU Press Celebrates 50 Years
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 13:01
The Georgetown University Press, best known for its publication of the internationally distributed Arabic language textbook series Al-Kitaab, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
In honor of its anniversary, the GU Press will launch a lecture series on campus featuring different authors that they have published. The first event will take place on Feb. 26 and will focus on “Analyzing Intelligence” by Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce of the Center of Security Studies.
Additionally, the GU Press will feature a book from each year of its history on Tumblr every Friday. This project was launched Jan. 10 with 1964’s “A Dictionary of Syrian Arabic”, edited by Karl Stowasser and Moukhtar Ani.
“Basically, we’ll be featuring some of the authors of the press and also the relationship that we have on campus,” GU Press Publicist Jacqueline Beilhart (GRD ’13) said.
The GU Press will also issue a 50 percent discount to all Georgetown staff, faculty and students, although details about how they will be able to use this discount have yet to be determined.
While Al-Kitaab brought the GU Press world renown, the press also publishes about 40 books and two journals each year across five different subject areas, including religion and ethics, international affairs, language and linguistics, bioethics and public policy.
“They’re areas that we think reflect the different strengths of the university,” Beilhart said. “When we’re reassessing which direction the press wants to go in, we always make sure that we’re in line with where the university is going.”
Beilhart said that the press publishes the most content in international affairs, although it is its newest area; the press brought in the section editor only seven years ago.
The GU Press started with the languages and linguistics program and continues to be well-known for publishing textbooks for less commonly taught languages.
“[Al-Kitaab] has been getting more competitors recently, but it’s still the most widespread,” said Nicholas Childress (COL ’14), an intern in the languages and linguistics department.
Childress said that the GU Press is expanding Al-Kitaab, which currently features Egyptian and Syrian dialects, to include the Lebanese dialect, and creating a database of online flashcards as a supplement to the textbook.
According to Beilhart, about 15 percent of the authors published by the GU Press are Georgetown University professors. Additionally, many Georgetown professors serve as contributors to edited volumes published by the press.
“[University presses] take their mission from the university and form relationships within the university … but you tend to not only publish authors from the university,” Beilhart said.
Originally part of the graduate school, the GU Press now operates under the Office of the Provost. Aside from the rent payments for its premises on Prospect Street, the GU Press is largely financially independent from the university.
As a part of the university, the press is a nonprofit organization. In the 2012 year, it brought in net revenue of just over $4 million.
“We try to have some degree of a [budgetary] surplus that we can put toward innovation and the different types of digital projects that we’ve been trying to reach out with,” Beilhart said.
The GU Press is an active member of Washington Book Publishers, a society of publishers in the Washington, D.C. area, and the Association of American University Presses, an organization of nonprofit publishers that provides professional education and public advocacy to its members.
GU Press Director Richard Brown served as president of the American Association of University Presses in 2010. Deborah Weiner, the editorial and production manager at GU Press, was the president of Washington Book Publishers in 2012 after serving as vice president in 2011.
With only 15 full-time employees and seven interns, the GU Press keeps a smaller staff than many of its peer organizations. However, because of its financial performance each year, the AAUP ranks it as a Group three Press, with presses in Group four being the top earners.
“We’ve grown quite a lot over the past 15 years,” Beilhart said. “Fifteen years ago, we only had a full-time staff of about four people. … We’re really looking forward to people getting to know the press a little better.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described GU Press Director Richard Brown as the former president of the American Association of University Professors, when he was, in fact, the president of the American Association of University Presses in 2010.