'225': Pressed for greatness
Bad news is loud, and we've all heard about budget cuts at LSU and the generally dire state of book publishing in the era of e-books. We've seen small mom-and-pop bookshops close—and the big boxes, too. Goodbye, Borders. We've been told some people just don't read books anymore. In 2009, the industry magazine Poets & Writers reported that budget cuts were threatening both LSU Press and its acclaimed short fiction and poetry quarterly, The Southern Review. The magazine quoted Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, saying, "The idea of shutting down a press that has brought so much national distinction and honor to LSU, and to Louisiana, is just plain nuts." Led by Director MaryKatherine Calloway, LSU Press does receive state funds, but it is becoming increasingly self-supporting as it operates as a nonprofit—one with the ability to publish worthwhile books from a variety of talented authors regardless of their level of renown. "Commercial publishing is becoming less and less welcoming to literary fiction, especially to the work of writers who have published a novel or two but have not had a best-seller," says Josh Russell, author of My Bright Midnight. "It is a gift to writers and readers to have presses like LSU willing to publish books they believe in, even if they know they might not make millions." In order to continue this approach, LSU Press aims to double its fundraising in 2012. Part of its continued success is due to the hiring of a new development director, Portia Levasseur. Read the full story by Emille Staat in the current issue of 225 here.
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