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Johnson, Dwight A. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 51, Number 5 (Feb. 1950)

Gates, Clough
A book club for Badgers,   p. 22


Page 22


A Book Club for Badgers
            Here is an unprecedented kind of book club which will (1)
            bring some stimulating books by campus authors into your
            home and (2) frankly help the University Press pay its own
            way-and still serve its vital purpose.
                              By Clough Gates, '02
                       Vice-President, Board of Visitors
PROPOSAL for unique action
     by the alumni of the Univer-
     sity of Wisconsin has been de-
veloped by the University Board of
Visitors and the Board of Directors
of the Wisconsin Alumni Associa-
tion.
  The proposal is that alumni and
other friends of the University join
in forming a book club. Members of
this club would pledge themselves to
buy within the year, one or more
books issued by the University of
Wisconsin Press.
How the Press Pays Off
  Few people realize to what extent
the advancement of the leading uni-
versities depends today on the effec-
tiveness of their presses.
  And not many of the friends of
the University of Wisconsin know of
the peculiar difficulties that have
made it hard for Wisconsin to build
and maintain the promising press
department that has been developed.
Legal obstacles prevent the Univer-
sity from owning the plant from
which  its press publications are
issued. As these frequently require
special type and equipment, the
press is often under serious handi-
cap in attempting to give adequate
service to its clientele.
  If the only function of a Univer-
sity Press were to add to the num-
ber of books available to scholars
and to the public, it perhaps would
not be serious to the University of
Wisconsin if its faculty members
had to look elsewhere for a pub-
lisher. But an almost peremptory
reason for the existence of a Uni-
versity Press is the service that it
can give to the scholars of its own
community.
  A University Press does not exist
to make money from its publications.
If it can make more than costs on
any issue, the Press is happy to plow
the profit back into more service to
more of its scholars.
  Obtaining and retaining strong
faculty men and women is the No. 1
problem of every university. And
facilities for publication of their
writings is a principal requirement
of many    professors. Rightly  or
wrongly, the reputations of the great
majority  of  outstanding  faculty
members of the leading universities
is built up through their publica-
tions. While the volume of such writ-
22
ings has increased, production costs
have also mounted until today it is
increasingly difficult to interest com-
mercial publishers in the type of
material offered by scholars.
  Such books as a whole are far
more vital to the country's intellec-
tual advancement than are most of
those that will return profits to the
publisher, but this fact will rarely
result in their acceptance by those
in the business of making publishing
pay.
  No university can hope either to
acquire or retain long on its faculty
men and women of promising repu-
tation unless easy access to publish-
ing facilities is available.
Half the Answer
  During the past two decades many
of the leading universities have
sought and found the answer to this
problem through the establishing of
their own presses. These presses
have been charged with the prime
duty of serving scholarship.
  A  number of the universities,
among them several of Wisconsin's
neighbors, were already doing fine
work in the publishing field when
the changing conditions among the
commercial houses prompted Wis-
consin and many others to undertake
the work.
  President E. B. Fred and the
Regents have been generous in their
support of the effort to give the
University a press competent to take
its place among those of the great
universities of the country. That
Wisconsin is on its way to such a
position is apparent to those who
have studied its performance and
its product in recent years. In has
issued titles that have brought
credit to itself and the University. It
has immediate. plans for many more
but it is still considerably short of
attaining the volume and diversity
of publication that the scholarship
of Wisconsin will supply if the facil-
ities are made available.
  The University administration has
done all the Press has asked of it
in the way of financial support for
the current year. It is now for the
Press to demonstrate that it has not
overshot the mark, that Wisconsin
writers can offer desirable manu-
script for all that the Press's facili-
ties will produce and that the prod-
uct will be in demand from scholars
and public.
The Alumni's Half
  This is where the alumni come in.
Our Press is on its way. A failure to
put its books into the hands of
readers is the one element that can
prevent Wisconsin from soon having
a press fully abreast of institutions
of otherwise similar standing.
  The current and back lists of
books that the University Press now
offers contain many books that
Alumni and friends of the Univer-
sity would gladly possess. Get the
list and look it over. You will agree
that in signing an order for one or
more of these publications you will
be doing yourself a good turn as
well as helping your University to
overcome more rapidly what has
been one of its serious handicaps.
  Among the country's leading uni-
versities, Wisconsin was a bit late
in getting a start toward develop-
ment of a press, a department that
has become a virtual necessity to an
institution that would maintain a
position such as our University has
held for many decades. Let's put it
where it belongs in this respect by
giving Wisconsin the country's first
university-press book club.
        WISCONSIN ALUMNUS
  A former University Re-
gent, Clough Gates was
reared on the staff of the
Superior Evening Tele-
gram where he is now vice-
president and general man-
ager. He interrupted his
newspaper career only to
get his degree at Wiscon-
sin in 1902.
  Mr. Gates originally sug-
gested the book club idea
to the Board of Visitors. But
the credit, he believes,
should reflect on the Board
because of their "real and
keen desire to be accom-
plishing something for the
University."


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