New UM Press director seeks to keep the press financially sustainable

David Rosenbaum brings 16 years of experience in the publishing industry to the UM Press.

David Rosenbaum, a 16-year veteran of the publishing industry, will head the UM Press beginning Nov. 1.

He will replace consulting director Jane Lago, who was put in place after the press nearly shut down in May 2012 due to financial constraints. The press was then made a part of MU and has been searching for a director ever since the merge.

Rosenbaum said he first saw the opening for the director’s position via an Association of American University Presses job listing. In early September, he came to the MU campus to interview for the position.

Provost Brian Foster offered the position to him three weeks later.

Foster expressed his confidence in the press’ new leader.

“I think he is bringing a very interesting and diverse set of experiences from the publishing world,” Foster said. “UM System’s decision to shut (the press) down was a matter of financial reality. David’s business model will make it more financially sustainable.”

Lago spoke for herself and the members of UM Press when she discussed their enthusiasm for the new director.

“We are delighted at the selection of David Rosenbaum as the new director of the press,” she said. “He is bringing fresh and innovative ideas to the university, and all of us are looking forward to working with him. We believe that the press has a bright future.”

Rosenbaum said he hopes to make the press more successful.

“Because (the press) was serving a system, I think its editorial program was trying to serve a lot of different masters,” he said. “The program, as a result, became very diffused. We need to narrow the number of disciplines in the arts and humanities that the press publishes.”

The press could benefit from expanding its publishing to areas it lacks in, Rosenbaum said.

“If you look at the mission statement of the university, it refers to the sciences and professions as part of what it serves,” Rosenbaum said. “Right now, UM Press does not publish in the sciences and professions, but it can. I would like to explore the opportunity to grow in those areas.”

Rosenbaum also expressed his interest in an increased digital distribution of titles.

“I’d like to see the entire backlist posted online for sale,” said Rosenbaum. “I would also like to see every time a new title is published, that it is available in print and electronic (form). Let it be the customer’s choice. It is the customer we are trying to serve after all.”

Rosenbaum hopes that his strategies for the press will help prevent future attempts to close it down, he said.

“I would like to see a day when the university cannot imagine closing down the press because of its services,” he said. “It’s not about me managing them, it’s not about me taking control of the process away from them, but to work with that team to help the press enjoy the success they surely deserve. There is obviously a lot of work that go into that, and I want to be a part of that work.”

Rosenbaum graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1993, with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. He pursued his graduate studies at Iowa State University, though Rosenbaum never finished his graduate studies. He began his position as the production manager of Iowa State University Press instead.

“The kind of publishing we did at Iowa State was scholarly publishing, and that was interesting to me,” Rosenbaum said. “Iowa State’s press was extremely profitable, and as a result, was sold by the university to Blackwell Professional Publishing, and I went on to work there for close to four years.”

At Blackwell, Rosenbaum served as the senior acquisitions editor for veterinary science and aviation titles. This position required him to spot gaps in the publications market and find people to write the titles that could fill those gaps, he said.

In 2003, Rosenbaum moved to Delmar Cengage Learning, an educational publisher, to fill a similar position for almost five years. He moved again in 2008 to Elsevier, a medical and scientific publishing company, for about one year.

“After my time at Elsevier, I became a little disenchanted with commercial educational publishing,” Rosenbaum said. “I enjoyed the work itself, but it wasn’t serving any kind of scholarly mission. It was all about making money for shareholders. The commercial interest is overriding scholarly interest for companies like Cengage.”

He later took a position in 2010 as the director of product development and project management at the American Heart Association.

“We created training manuals to teach students about high-quality CPR based on what is recent science,” Rosenbaum said. “We created content for not just health care providers, but also the public.”

Rosenbaum said his experience in the publishing industry could serve as an asset for his new position at UM Press.

“I have a good breadth of knowledge in what the book publishing process is, whether it is delivered electronically or in print, and my experience as director at the American Heart Association taught me some good management skills,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum will stay at the American Heart Association until Friday. He will start his new position at UM Press on Nov. 1.

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