The Truman State University Press moved in an attempt to help bring the Press’s operations closer to campus to increase exposure to the community and to convenience student employees, Budget Director Dave Rector said.
The Press moved to the third floor of the Grimm Smith Building on the corner of Patterson and Franklin streets during winter break from its former location south of campus on Franklin Street near La Harpe Street.
While other universities’ presses, such as University of Missouri, have experienced issues — some closing completely — Rector said the Press at Truman has shown growth and success during the last few years. Regardless, he said there has been a plan during the last few years to make the operations at the Press self-sufficient and to eliminate the current $50,000 subsidies coming from the University. He said the subsidy amount has decreased during the last few years, but there’s no set timeline dictating when the funds will be completely removed.
“The goal is, in the next couple of years, to eliminate [the subsidy] totally,” Rector said. “They’ve been well-managed and have a good reputation. Plus, they’ve carved out some specialties so they’re not trying to do everything like [larger universities’ presses].”
The Press, which has been operational for 27 years, used to have expenses and salaries completely covered by the University, said Nancy Rediger, University Press Editor-in-Chief. Recently, they’ve been asked to cover the entirety of the budgeting costs and a portion of the salaries.
“This year we have the greatest deduction of our budget ever, but we still have the full support of the President and administration,” she said. “What this means for us is that we have to be careful in the [selection of the] books we publish, how we utilize our time and how efficient we are.”
Rediger said she thinks there are multiple reasons the Press has and will continue to be successful on campus, including the benefits of being a smaller operation and its contribution to student learning.
“We’re small enough to change with the market,” Rediger said. “Sometimes small can be a hindrance in publishing, but we’re now able to do things like e-book publishing, which many university presses have outsourced. [Outsourcing that process] means they’re not getting as much revenue back on those products and can’t control the quality. We’ve taken the middle man out.”
Rediger said Press employees learned how to create e-books — published books available for e-readers — two years ago and that has helped them stay viable and produce an additional type of revenue during the last few years of budget cut pressures.
Rediger said the production of e-books is now between five and 10 percent of their total revenue. The opportunities e-book production has brought to the Press is invaluable to the learning of the student interns and workers and has helped many of them move on to larger editing or publishing job opportunities, she said.
Senior Ashley Butner interned for the Press during last summer and said she enjoyed it so much she continued to work as a volunteer last fall. She now receives institutional pay for her work converting one of the Press’s books to an e-book.
“It was an unexpected wealth of experience, connections and knowledge about something I was familiar with as a reader, but had no experience behind-the-scenes with,” Butner said. “I am completely confident that I’ll end up finding a job because of what I’ve learned.”
Butner said she hopes the Press will continue to thrive because of the opportunities it provides employees to work with published authors and gain hands-on experience in publishing.
Rector said in the “higher education budgeting world,” the Press is called an ancillary operation, meaning it relates to the University’s mission because of the production of books and the learning opportunities for students, just not as direct instruction. Because of this, it’s best to run it like a small business, he said.
“After what happened at the University of Missouri, I had a friend call me asking if we would be closing our press too,” Rector said. “I told him we just spent [about $10,000] creating a new and better space for our Press, so obviously we don’t plan on closing any time soon.”
The money toward the new space for the Press allowed the University to install new carpet, paint and other updates the office needed, Rector said.
The building the Press moved out of currently is vacant because the University hasn’t decided what they’d like to do with the building next, Rector said. He said among the ideas they’re considering, one involves moving some Physical Plant operations to the old building to be closer to the Delaney Baldwin buildings where some of the Plant’s other operations are housed.