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UP concludes solid fiscal year, bringing out new titles for holidays

Business is good at the University Press of Mississippi. Total net sales increased for the fiscal year that just ended and some exciting new titles are debuting this fall.

“We’ve had a good year. For fiscal year 2007, which just concluded, total net sales were $2,094,971,” says director Seetha Srinivasan. “For three years in a row, our sales have been rising. Overall, it was the third highest sales total since the press was established.”

Now at the start of fiscal year 2008, she feels optimistic that another good year is in the making. There are numerous titles in the fall and winter catalog with solid interest state and regionally. Many will make perfect holiday gifts and should also boost sales for the press again.

“The books must be in stores well in time to stock, promote and have signings before Christmas,” the director says. “That’s a date imprinted on our brains. Unless the markets totally conspire against us, it will be another good year.”

“Battles of Shiloh and Corinth,” a collection of color photographs by Sun Herald photographer Timothy Isbell, along with “Must See Mississippi: 50 Favorite Places,” another book on Ocean Springs artist Walter Anderson and a book on the Egg Bowl are among new titles.

“Believe it or not, we have a book on the legendary rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” Srinivasan says. “It’s by William Barner and traces the history of the Egg Bowl from 1901. It has fun facts and figures and should appeal to alumni of both schools.”

The Anderson book, “Form and Fantasy, the Block Prints of Walter Anderson,” is edited by his daughter Mary Anderson Pickard and Patricia Pinson. “It includes a fine essay by his daughter and is a powerful reminder of the flora, fauna and landscape that were painted by Anderson and no longer exist on the Coast,” she says.

She attributes the success of the past year to several factors. “We have a strong marketing staff that was able to take the books’ full potential in a smart and savvy manner. We have a talented design staff to make the books look beautiful. And, we had a list of very marketable books,” she says.

Those are things the University Press staff can control, but it can’t control how the books are received. “We’re very pleased when it all comes together,” she adds. “It’s not one single factor.”

Several books with wide appeal contributed to the press’ successful year. Srinivasan lists two political books among those titles, the writings of former Governor William F. Winter and the Republican-Democrat face off of Andy Taggart and Jere Nash. “Thomas Jefferson on Wine” by John R. Hailman and “Historic Churches of Mississippi” also did very well. Artist William Dunlap’s book and “Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember” were other top sellers.

“Thomas Jefferson on Wine had good reviews and was one of our top money makers,” she says. “It did well with those interested in wine and those interested in one of the founding fathers.”

The book about historic churches struck a chord with various communities and reached places the University Press doesn’t usually reach, Srinivasan says. The book featured photographs by Sherry Pace with an essay and captions by Richard J. Cawthon. It includes images of several churches that were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina along with churches in all parts of the state.

The press sells primarily to big book wholesalers who in turn get the books into the market place. Other sales are to professors across the nation, libraries and online to stores and individual customers.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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