Pressing Ahead: University Press Welcomes New Director

Last December, TONY SANFILIPPO joined The Ohio State University Press as its new director. He came to the university from Penn State University Press, where he was assistant director. He has more than 14 years of experience as a leader and innovator in academic publishing and 20 years in bookselling.

Ohio State’s University Press is an internationally recognized academic publisher that dates back to 1957. It publishes about 30 new books per year.  

We sat down with Sanfilippo to gain some insight into the press now and plans for the future.

Q. What drew you to Ohio State?

A. First of all, Ohio State is very much like Penn State, institutionally. It’s a public, land-grant university with a focus on service. And the press has a clear focus on literature and literary studies. Plus, I have to say the staff is very smart and very good at what they do.

Q. Ohio State’s press is relatively small compared to other university presses, correct?

A. Yes, that seems to have been a conscious decision for the press in the past. However, I intend to help the University Press grow – it is in the perfect position to grow because of a healthy endowment that dates back to its publication of ...And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer.

We may expand the focus of the press and find new ways to collaborate with other areas of the university.

Q. At Penn State, you introduced a robust digital publishing program. Do you plan to delve into digital publishing here, too?

A. Absolutely. It’s a bit challenging because we outsource our distribution to the University of Chicago Press. That means digital booksellers treat the books as if they’re an imprint the U of Chicago. As part of our larger branding goal, we want to work with retailers like Amazon directly. We want to be sure that Ohio State’s name is on everything we do. Digital publishing is important and we’d like to be sure our brand is featured on that front.

Q. At Penn State, you had an active internship program for students. Do you plan to start a similar program here?

A. Of course! The internship program helps create the next generation of publishers, and gives students opportunities in publishing that they otherwise might need to go to New York City for. Quite a few of the interns at Penn State ended up entering lucrative careers in commercial publishing.

I want to work with faculty in other departments, such as English and history, and intertwine the internship opportunities with academic programs. I plan to have the internship program fully fledged and up and running by fall – if not before.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add about your new role at Ohio State?

A. Yes. I want to make more of our books accessible to the citizens of Ohio. Part of our duty as an institution of this state is to publish books that are relevant to the people who live here, books with a regional focus, perhaps, and books about the history of the area and history of the university.

I also want to reach out to the university community. As a University Press, we specialize in particular disciplines and reach out to authors all over the world. But I also want to reach out much more to the local community and larger Ohio State community too.


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