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Defining the Pacific Northwest: Publishing at OSU Press

November 13, 2013

We are pleased to welcome OSU Press Acquistions Editor Mary Elizabeth Braun as a guest on our blog as part of the University Press Week blog tour! The tour continues today at Texas A&M University Press. A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

UP Week logo   There are many ways to define a region, yet no single definition can completely capture its essence. The diverse books published by university presses help define and describe the complexity of various regions, covering everything from a region's history, culture, flora and fauna, geography, natural history, ecosystems, watersheds, and political history, to its folklore, literature, and art. They may include reprint editions of out-of-print regional classics, as well as newly written books. Such books are usually written for general readers as well as scholars and students, with an emphasis on good writing and accessibility, and published in attractively designed, well-illustrated editions. Increasingly, such books are available electronically—some with digital ancillaries—as well as in print.

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Regional books from the Oregon State University Press focus on the Pacific Northwest. Some of our authors define the Pacific Northwest strictly by political boundaries, others define it by watersheds and landforms. Some include northern California, or Alaska, or western Canada, or western Idaho and Montana, while others are adamant that the region comprises only Oregon and Washington. Of course, the definition of the region has shifted over time. Our books include an atlas of the Pacific Northwest and an atlas of the state of Oregon; several regionally-based scientific reference books and field guides, such as Dragonflies and Damselflies of Oregon and Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest; and books about land-use planning, natural resource management, wildlife policy, Oregon viticulture, and cheesemaking in the Pacific Northwest. We recently published our first children's book and an accompanying teacher's guide, Ellie's Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, which was inspired by research done at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades. 

Our literary books include the anthology Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, edited by noted poet David Biespiel; the six-volume Oregon Literature Series created by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English; many memoirs by women and men who have lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest at different points in time; and our first novel, Brian Doyle's Mink River, which has sold more than thirty thousand copies since its publication in 2010.  Books in the Northwest Photography Series present the finest Pacific Northwest historical and contemporary photographs in book form, complemented by an online digital archive, curated exhibitions at museums, schools, and libraries, and education programs. 

We continue to expand our list in Native American and Indigenous Studies, which includes titles such as Teaching Oregon Native Languages and Oregon Archaeology and the forthcoming books To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School and "Salmon Is Everything": A Community-Based Play from the Klamath Watershed. Our political books include a series by Pacific Northwest women politicians; To the Promised Land: A History of Government and Politics in Oregon, written by Tom Marsh, a long-time Oregon high school history teacher and state legislator; and A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936. Other recent books include titles about slavery in the Oregon Territory, the first authoritative account of the unsolved murder of more than thirty Chinese gold miners on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, and noted historian Richard Etulain's cross-continental history about Abraham Lincoln's strong connections with the Oregon Country on various political issues. Glenn May's book Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon is a major contribution to Oregon and Chicano history, along with Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives. We have published books about two WWII conscientious objector camps in Oregon, and our reprint edition of Oregon poet laureate William Stafford's book Down In My Heart: Peace Witness in War Time continues to sell well.   

The regional books we publish create an identity for the Oregon State University Press, as well as the region about which we publish. We help our parent institution fulfill its mission as a comprehensive public, research-extensive university, one of only two land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant institutions in the country. We contribute to the economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress of people in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

The bottom line? We publish well-written and engaging books for readers eager to learn more about the place in which they live or visit, and to facilitate their exploration, entertainment, and enjoyment of the region.

—Mary Elizabeth Braun, Acquistions Editor, OSU Press

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