Q&A with Richard Pressman, Founder of Early American Reprints
Richard S. Pressman, Professor of English & Communication Studies at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, has founded a small press, Early American Imprints. The purpose is to reissue early American texts that are in demand by instructors but are either out of print or have never been reprinted. The following interview provides details about the press and the texts to be published.
What is Early American Reprints?
This is a special service designed to fill a niche in the marketplace. We are a not-for-profit service designed to make available to the academic community texts for which there is some demand, but not enough for established publishing houses to be willing to invest in. Early American Reprints, housed in the Department of English at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, intends to produce works of the period to about 1830 in short runs of only a few hundred copies at a time. The market is intended to range from advanced undergraduates to academic scholars.
Who supports the effort?
When, about three years ago, I received a positive response to my reading of a paper on Margaretta at the SEA, I was given permission to appeal to the membership as a whole for support to get Margaretta published. Forty-three members said they would seriously consider using the text in a course. Since then, a number of academics, principally, to this point, members of the Society of Early Americanists, have expressed an interest, offered to help, and purchased books. In March of 2013, I established an Editorial Board of scholars distinguished in Early American Literature:
Mary McAleer Balkun, Seton Hall University
Theresa Strouth Gaul, Texas Christian University
Susan Imbarrato, University of Minnesota–Moorhead
Dennis Moore, Florida State University
Shirley Samuels, Cornell University
Scott Slawinski, Western Michigan University
Karen Weyler, University of North Carolina–Greensboro
What texts are being planned? Are the texts ones that have previously been available and are no longer/have not been available at all?
The first text, Margaretta, has never been republished since its initial run in 1807. Nevertheless, it’s mentioned in most of the histories. I found myself fascinated by it, as have, apparently, a number of other scholars. A second text, Female Quixotism (1801) had been republished by Oxford in the early 1990s, but has been out of print for a long time, easily a decade. We reissued Female Quixotism (1801) this past summer of 2013. After that, it will depend on whether professors begin to order the texts for classroom use. Next in line is Rebecca Rush’s Kelroy (1812), which had also been reissued by Oxford, but has long been out of print. So far, all of the texts selected or planned are by women authors. In this way we make a contribution to justice in the marketplace of ideas.
What will each volume include?
I have modeled them, frankly, on what Broadview has done: critical editions that include a scholarly introduction and some ancillary materials. Because it has been my practice for many years to supply my students with extensive page notes, and because there are so many references that are lost to cultural memory or changed in time, I am providing such for all the volumes. My experience is that even advanced scholars can be puzzled by references: How much more convenient to have an explanation right on the same page! In the first two texts issued so far, I have provided something under a footnote per page. The manufactured quality is first-rate, though all copies will be paperback only.
How does one contact the press? And how does one order?
One can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but a fairly complete website, EarlyAmericanReprints.wordpress.com, has been established that contains all necessary information. I must make it clear that because of the tiny size of the endeavor, I cannot afford examination copies or desk copies. However, this is a genuine not-for-profit endeavor—which perhaps should be called a less–than-not-for-profit endeavor. Raw prices (before shipping and, if sold in Texas, tax) will be typically just under $10.00. That’s a pretty good deal these days. The price would be even lower were it not for the cost of set-up and of ISBNs, which are quite costly. The copies will not have bar-scans on them because of the additional cost. But university bookstores can easily put them on, and do. Checks should be made out to “St. Mary’s University / EAR” and sent to:
Dr. Richard S. Pressman
Department of English
St. Mary’s University
San Antonio, TX 78228–8535
University bookstore orders should include the tax-exempt number. Books can be purchased either with a check (preferable) or with a credit-card transfer, which can be arranged.