Friday, March 11, 2011

The Best Book Publishers in Philosophy

Lieter discusses the landscape of book publishing in philosophy with a focus on which publishers will get the most out of your book. Also information such as which publishers produce monographs. Ranked publishers.

The List:

  1. Harvard University Press
  2. Princeton University Press 
  3. Routledge
  4. MIT Press (the Bradford Books imprint) for philosophy of mind/metaphysics
  5. Cornell University Press for philosophy of religion.
  6. Blackwell
  7. Yale University Press
  8. Westview Press
  9. University of Chicago Press
  10. Rowman & Littlefield
Keep in mind this is from 2003. I believe that book publishing is rather stable though.
The comments on Lieter's post are interesting, I will update this post later to reflect some of the better comments.

Taken from Lieter Reports:

There was considerable interest in the posting on the best philosophy journals, so consider this a sequel. Interest in the best presses for philosophy, at least among students, is more often a matter of trying to gauge faculty quality (via proxies like where they've published), though as with journals, there is interest too among philosophers trying to make publication decisions. With respect to presses, my sense is that an assessment of quality is easier and more clear-cut than in the case with journals (see the comments section of the latter posting for some indication of the ways in which opinions diverge). But in case I'm wrong, I've activated the Comments section here as well, and invite corrections and additions.

For breadth, depth, and quality of publications in philosophy, I would think it is clear that the two leading English-language presses are Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.
Coming close for depth and quality--but falling far short on breadth--is Harvard University Press's philosophy catalogue.
Also boasting strong, if generally not as high-profile, catalogues are Princeton University Press and Routledge.
Two presses have carved out specialty niches, where their publications are as strong as anyone's: MIT Press (the Bradford Books imprint) for philosophy of mind/metaphysics; and Cornell University Press for philosophy of religion.
Blackwell has largely stopped producing new monographs in philosophy, so it's harder to compare them any longer with the others; certainly for "guides" and "anthologies," Blackwell is as reliable and high quality as any of the others.
Occasionally, significant contributions to philosophy are published by Yale University Press, Westview Press, University of Chicago Press, Rowman & Littlefield, and so on, but none of these other presses is as good in philosophy as the ones noted above.
Some more detailed comments now on the preceding:
The CUP and OUP catalogues clearly dominate English-speaking philosophy, and have done so for at least a generation, and perhaps quite a bit longer. Their catalogues include the very best senior and junior philosophers, and cover the full range of philosophical scholarship, often in great depth. Each catalogue has some weak links, to be sure: the New York branch of OUP is not as consistently high quality as Oxford-based OUP in terms of the books it commissions; CUP has proliferated book series, not all of the same high quality as the rest of the catalogue. (One of the worst offenders is the Modern European Philosophy series, which under its prior editor, Raymond Geuss, was without question the best publisher of books on post-Kantian German and French philosophy, but which since has become extremely uneven, so much so that some distinguished scholars of Continental philosophy who still publish with CUP have asked that their books no longer be included in the series.)
Harvard University Press has a distinguished catalogue of authors--John McDowell, Crispin Wright, Robert Brandom, Allan Gibbard, Frederick Neuhouser, David Albert, etc.--but it simply doesn't publish as broadly or deeply in philosophy as do CUP or OUP. Harvard also has some idiosyncrasies in its catalogue--a certain "Harvard" way of looking at philosophy (vaguely Wittgensteinian, pragmatist, later Putnamian) is rather over-represented in the catalogue, which usually accounts for the weak links in the publication list.
Princeton University Press, like Harvard, does not feature as broad a philosophy catalogue as OUP or CUP, but it is increasingly prominent, both in terms of the books and the authors represented. Routledge is much broader, but also more uneven (its reputation among philosophers was clearly hurt by the over-investment of the New York branch during the 90s in too much trendy cultural studies nonsense--London-based Routledge has always been much better). Among non-university-affiliated publishers, Routledge is almost surely the premier philosophy publisher, and its famed series--The Arguments of the Philosophers, The International Library of Philosophy, and, more recently, the Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks--compare favorably with the best offerings in any catalogue. (It will fairly be observed that I'm hardly a disinterested party with respect to Routledge, since I am on the advisory board for one of these series, a contributor to another one, and the editor of a new one, The Routledge Philosophers. This observation, however, misstates the cause-and-effect--it was because Routledge is a strong publisher in the respects noted above that I agreed to undertake various projects with Routledge in the first place. And I'm optimistic that the Routledge Philosophers series--which will feature books by Paul Guyer, Frederick Beiser, Jonathan Lear, Warren Goldfarb & Thomas Ricketts, Don Garrett, Michael Della Rocca, Michael Friedman, Christopher Shields, Nicholas Jolley, etc., etc.--will, in fact, lend further support to the claims about Routledge, above.)


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