UCL Centre for Publishing
The UCL Centre for Publishing, based in central London, is well-positioned to research contemporary and historical trends in publishing and cultures of the book. While our primary focus is on the book trade (especially the trade and academic/scientific sectors), we explore the intersection of publishing and related industries/disciplines, including, but not limited to, bookselling, digital media, academic research and academic publishing, colonial and postcolonial publishing histories, small nation cultural production, and issues around globalisation and identity. To fulfil these aims, our core values include:
- Connecting practice, teaching and research: We take a holistic approach to publishing and explore the intersection of practice, teaching and research within the discipline.
- Critical engagement with industry partners: Publishing can be viewed as a vocational discipline and we are keen to work with industry, including our extensive network of alumni. Nonetheless, we emphasise our role as a critical friend rather than consultants.
- Interdisciplinary conversations: The Centre brings together academics from across UCL interested in publishing across disciplines.
You can find information about our MA in Publishing here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught-degrees/publishing-ma
Please note that the programme is being updated for the 2023/24 academic year. Programme and module details will be updated shortly.
Dr Simon Rowberry (Director, Centre for Publishing)
Professor Samantha Rayner (Programme Director, MA in Publishing)
Simon: I've recently started work on my next big book project: an exploration of the role of textual transmission in the history of computing and why reading long-form content on screen only became a viable option in the early 2000s.
Samantha: I’m currently completing a short monograph on the impact of women booksellers in the UK in the twentieth century. I am the co-Director of the Bookselling Research Network, and the General Editor of an Elements series in Publishing and Book Cultures for Cambridge University Press
Our research is grounded in our historical understanding of the development of the publishing industry since the early twentieth century with a specific focus on its connections to developments in bookselling, colonialism, and digital media.
The Centre for Publishing has a long history of engaging with the past, present and future of academic publishing. We have investigated the future of the academic book, via an AHRC/ BL funded project, The Academic Book of the Future (see https://academicbookfuture.org/), and have doctoral students who have worked/ are working on censorship, why academics choose to publish with particular publishers, and how open access is impacting on the way researchers in the Arts and Humanities work. We also have close links to UCL Press.
Our researchers engage with international publishing via a range of interests, particularly colonial and postcolonial publishing history, and small nations publishing (including translation and publishing in minority languages). We also look at issues surrounding globalisation and identity.
Capitalists and Consumers
The creation of books as content and physical objects can often be seen as a romantic pursuit, more interested in the cultural impact than financial incentives. Once a book leaves the distributor's warehouse, this becomes less effective as an illusion. Our research into booksellers and readers explores the tensions inherent in the ‘last mile’ of the publishing supply chain, demonstrating the cultural nuances of what might otherwise be perceived as a simple financial transaction.