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Dartmouth College to close University Press of New England

Union Leader Correspondent

April 19. 2018 11:45PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College plans to shut down the University Press of New England, run by 20 Dartmouth employees, at the end of the calendar year.

UPNE had at one time been supported by as many as 10 colleges and universities, including the University of New Hampshire and the University of Vermont. But in recent years membership had shrunk to just two institutions — Dartmouth and Brandeis University.

The publishing consortium has been run by Dartmouth and Brandeis for the past two years.

Dartmouth currently employs 20 people at UPNE’s Lebanon headquarters.

“UPNE is considered a small academic press with sales under $1.5 million annually,” Dartmouth spokesman Diana Lawrence said in an email Thursday.

Founded in 1970 as a consortium of institutions, UPNE has become unsustainable to operate under only two member institutions, Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in an announcement Wednesday.

This led to a vote Tuesday by the UPNE Board of Governors to dissolve the consortium and close the press.

“This decision was not made quickly or easily,” Hanlon said in the announcement. “Dartmouth will continue to support the scholarly publication of the work of its faculty.”

“It’s news to me, but frankly not a total shock,” said Jamie Sayen, author of UPNE-published “You Had a Job for Life: Story of a Company Town.”

“I knew they didn’t have any budget for much of anything.” Sayen said Thursday. He found the news depressing. It’s not just a press for college professors, he said.

His book, published by UPNE in early December, tells the story of how a paper mill closing in the Coos County town of Groveton in 2007 devastated the town and larger area. Though it’s about shuttered downtowns in New England, Sayen said he believes it has a broader appeal than New England, and was hoping more copies of the book would be published.

Sayen had purchased several hundred copies of his book ahead of its first printing in December, knowing he would be selling them at book events. Before its release he had already sold 200 copies. Only 500 copies were printed initially.

“It was unavailable almost before the official publication date,” which was Dec. 5, he said. “It was disappointing that I missed out on some Christmas sales.”

Another 500 were printed after the New Year, he said, and sold out. There are currently no copies of his book available, and he had recently been told by publishing staff there would be another run.

Sayen said he is mostly saddened by the news because UPNE published serious books that tell the history of New England and reflect its culture.

A large publishing house is more interested in publishing a throwaway celebrity biography than his book, he said.

Though he had to do most of his own marketing for the book because of the bare bones marketing department at UPNE, Sayen said the entire staff was excellent, professional and kind.

Lawrence said in an email Thursday that the fall book list will appear as scheduled because those books are already in production, but no new titles will be put into production.

“UPNE will wind down in phases over the next several months, ending in December. Staff will be transitioned out over time, starting June 30 and ending December 23,” she said.

While UPNE, which is a business, is closing, the Dartmouth College Press, which is the college’s own imprint, will continue, she said.

Likewise, Brandeis will continue to publish its own imprint.

"While Brandeis University Press titles will no longer be published through UPNE, Brandeis will be moving the imprint elsewhere and will continue to support it," Provost Lisa Lynch said in a statement.

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