UW-Madison: UW Press reports banner year for book sales


Contact: Sheila Leary, (608) 263-1101, [email protected]

MADISON – Print book sales at the University of Wisconsin Press bounced back in 2011 from a recession-driven slump.

The list of the 15 bestsellers in 2011 includes books that appeal to lovers of popular culture and books of a more scholarly nature. The top seller, a biography of legendary actor Glenn Ford written by his son Peter, sold more than 4,250 copies since its April release.

Sheila Leary, director of the University of Wisconsin Press, says the trend toward higher print book sales is in part due to the timely topics of some of the works.

“A few of these books were really capturing the zeitgeist,” Leary says, citing as an example Bronson Lemer’s book “The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq.” The book was released around the time the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was being repealed.

Leary also credited a recovering economy, the efforts of UW Press staff, and the enthusiastic promotional efforts of authors as reasons for the upswing in sales.

“The authors really have been great partners to us in getting out there and promoting their works,” Leary says. “To have one of our titles sell over 4,000 copies in its first year-that doesn’t happen very often. And, on the scholarly side, we sold more than 3,000 copies of ‘Oedipus Rex.'”

The list of top 15 bestsellers features eight titles by UW System authors, including four from UW-Madison: “Murder in Lascaux” by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden, “Spain: A Unique History” by Stanley Payne, “Chemical Demonstrations 5” by Bassam Shakashiri, and “Remaking Rwanda,” co-edited by Scott Straus.

Leary says 2011 was the best year for print book sales at the press since prior to 2008, when a national economic recession hit the industry hard, and big-box book retailers and library buying began to falter.

“We’re eagerly awaiting final 2011 figures from our e-book vendors. We expect to see healthy growth in that segment, as well,” Leary says.

Here is a list of the top 15 sellers among the books released by the press in 2011:

1. “Glenn Ford: A Life,” by Peter Ford (published in April)

2. “Oedipus Rex: A New Verse Translation,” by David Mulroy (April)

3. “Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel,” by Bob Smith (April)

4. “Murder in Lascaux,”by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden (September)

5. “Spain: A Unique History,” by Stanley Payne (January)

6. “Chemical Demonstrations, Volume 5,” by Bassam Shakhashiri (February)

7. “Haunted Wisconsin, Third Edition,”by Michael Norman (September)

8. “Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence,” edited by Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf (March)

9. “The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq,” by Bronson Lemer (May)

10. “Lorine Niedecker: A Poet’s Life,” by Margot Peters (August)

11. “A Handbook of Scandinavian Names,” by Nancy L. Coleman and Olav Veka (late December 2010)

12. “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin: Illustrated by Vintage Postcards,” by Randolph Henning (April)

13. “A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said,” translated from the Arabic, edited, and with an introduction by Ala Alryyes (June)

14. “For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics,” by Bruce Mouser (January)

15. “Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo,” by Michael Schiavi (March)

For more information on the press, visit http://uwpress.wisc.edu/