EReader on shelfAlong with a global recession, Ms Mudditt also cites the challenges of “a rapid move to ebooks, the demise of independent bookstores and growing power of a few chains”.

Looking ahead, she sees a more limited trade programme, which puts less emphasis on “the research and scholarly mission of the university” and gives greater attention to “its equally important education and public service missions”.

“There is a great deal of important, relevant and potentially impactful work that takes place in academia but has a hard time connecting with the right audiences.

“Concentrating on this ‘translational’ connection would seem to be a good focus for our future trade publishing,” Ms Mudditt said.

So is all this good news for the early-career academics, particularly in the humanities, who are desperate to get their first monographs into print and have been distressed to see some university presses apparently chasing the next best-seller?

Ms Mudditt, who took up her new post in January, can offer only cautious reassurance.

“Monographs remain the primary mode of discourse in certain fields and scholars need to publish them for tenure and promotion.

“At the same time, these titles are ever more expensive to publish due to a continuing decline in sales, largely driven by dwindling library budgets – a problem that has only accelerated in recent years.

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