AUPresses 2024: University of Alberta Press Goes to Montréal

Guest post by Elisia Snyder

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) held its annual meeting from June 11 to 13 at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montréal. Self-described as the “premier professional development and networking event for university press and non-profit scholarly publishers,” this meeting is hosted in various locations across North America in June every two years to bring together both scholarly publishing professionals and vendors to “share ideas, combine knowledge, and make connections.” The conference organizers work diligently to create as many opportunities as possible for organic connection, from liaising a LGBTQ2S+ breakfast to setting aside designated space for newcomers.

The AUPresses annual meeting is a chance for member publishers to have “state‑of-the-industry” discussions and bring those thoughts back to their home presses. For example, the opening plenary featured Guillame Lajoie and Peter Schoppert in conversation about the future of publishing as it relates to artificial intelligence and large language models. Lajoie is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at l’Université de Montréal, and Schoppert is the Director of the National University of Singapore Press. Their discussion about what publishers bring to the table and have at risk in working alongside AI and LLMs set a thoughtful tone of future-facing curiosity for the remainder of the conference and its many panels on AI in publishing.

Three members of the University of Alberta Press team were in attendance: Director, Douglas Hildebrand; Acquisitions Editor, Michelle Lobkowicz; and Administrative Assistant, Elisia Snyder. All three were deeply engaged in the mission of this annual meeting by moderating, organizing, or speaking on various panels. As a member of the AUPresses Professional Development Committee, Snyder had a hand in organizing the Speed Networking event and a “Conferences 101 Collaboration Lab.” These events are geared toward newer attendees who are looking to network and learn what their goals should be in attending conferences. Snyder also moderated a panel titled “Building UP Leadership Skills,” on which Hildebrand was a panelist. This panel zeroed in on the skills and life choices key to making the transition into a leadership role in university presses and featured Canadian and American panelists from both large and small presses.

In addition to attending and speaking on panels, Hildebrand was part of the Directors’ Meeting before the conference. Hildebrand also began a three-year term on the AUPresses Board as a Director-at-large. Lobkowicz was a panelist for a session called “The Same But different: Book Sales and Marketing in the United States and Canada,” which explored Canada and the US as similar but distinct (and in many ways, unique) book markets. Panelists discussed changes taking place with the national chains, the reach of US wholesalers like Ingram, and the independent bookselling environment, as well as the library wholesale market. Another key member of the panel was Saffron Beckwith, President of Ampersand Inc., which represents our books in Canada.

Panelists of the book marketing session are shown. From left to right: Saffron Beckwith, unidentified person, Roy Ward, and Michelle Lobkowicz.

While some staff of University of Alberta Press were not in physical attendance, they were still represented at the meeting by virtue of the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show.

The Book, Jacket, and Journal Show displays the best in both interior and exterior book design within the scholarly publishing community. UAlberta Press’s designer, Alan Brownoff, was featured twice in this showcase for the interior design of both The Cancer Plot: Terminal Immortality in Marvel’s Moral Universe by Reginald Wiebe and Dorothy Woodman, and This Is How You Start to Disappear by Astrid Blodgett. 

The catalogue page from the Book, Jacket, and Journal Show displaying the cover of The Cancer Plot and several pages from the interior of the book.

UAlberta Press staff soaked in as much of the sights and sounds of Montréal in the summer as they possibly could in three days, even sneaking in a trip between Mile End and Plateau to visit with one of our newer authors, Greg Phipps at a café called Farine & Vanille.

Next year’s AUPresses meeting is scheduled to take place virtually with 2026’s meeting in Seattle.