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About Stanford University Press

Past | Present | Future | Memberships


In March 1891, Leland and Jane Stanford went to Bloomington, Indiana, where they offered the presidency of their projected university to David Starr Jordan, then President of Indiana University. Jordan prepared a four-point memorandum of understanding for the Stanfords’ approval. The fourth point was

That provision be made for the publication of the results of any important research on the part of professors or advanced students. Such papers may be issued from time to time as ‘Memoirs of the Leland Stanford Junior University.’”

Accordingly, an independent printing company was established at the University in 1892, and the first work of scholarship bearing the Stanford name appeared that year.  The imprint Stanford University Press was used for the first time on a sermon published in 1895.  In 1917, the University purchased the printing facility, and in 1925 expanded it into the full-fledged publishing house it is today. <back to top>


In 1999, the Press became a division of Stanford University Libraries, a natural alignment given that the Libraries and the Press share a common purpose: to support research, instruction, and professional practice.  This purpose is firmly grounded in the aims of the University in three ways. 


First, our mission—which is to serve the needs of the scholarly community and society as a whole by disseminating new knowledge of all types—flows from the University’s commitment to the creation and sharing of knowledge as outlined by President John Hennessy:

“The creation and communication of knowledge is at the heart of every research university, and a great research university like Stanford aspires to create knowledge that will benefit our society.”

In other words, the Press aspires to be one of the main conduits by which research from this institution, and thousands like it around the world, reaches those people who can develop it or apply it for the betterment of society. <back to top>


Second, our values echo the motto of Stanford—the wind of freedom blows—in that we are committed to the publication of works of scholarship that both extend and challenge prevailing views in the academy and society, and thereby explain and illuminate the human condition. The University administration supports us in this commitment by granting us the freedom to publish material intended to stimulate lively debate at the frontier of scholarship, and by supporting us financially in that endeavor. Our faculty supports us by serving as members of our Editorial Board, as advisors, as series editors, and as peer reviewers for our authors. <back to top>


Third, our specific publishing strategies mirror not only Stanford’s commitment to the unfettered creation and communication of new knowledge, but also its commitment to offering an undergraduate education that is unrivaled among research universities, and its commitment to training tomorrow’s leaders in a range of graduate professional disciplines.

We do this by

  • making available a range of highly specialized and peer-reviewed research that otherwise might not be published;
  • making major foreign-language works available in translation here, and making our books available in foreign-language editions abroad;
  • keeping books in print and debate alive, often for decades;
  • publishing the work of new scholars, thereby adding their voices and views to ongoing debates—and often precipitating new ones;
  • publishing textbooks for upper-level undergraduate courses and graduate courses;
  • publishing reference works for professional practitioners;
  • making all works for which we have electronic rights available through the main electronic aggregators, including ebrary, netLibrary, Questia, Google, and Books 24x7.

In pursuit of these strategies, the Press publishes about 130 books per year. About two thirds of these books are scholarly monographs and textbooks in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, with a strong concentration in History, Literature, Philosophy, and Asian Studies, and growing lists in Politics, Sociology, Anthropology, and Religion.  The remaining third are textbooks, professional reference works, and monographs in Law, Business, Economics, Public Policy, and Education. Tenure monographs account for about 20 percent of our scholarly output, and translations account for about 12 percent.

In keeping with the high intellectual quality of the works we publish, we ensure that every title we release benefits from our exacting professional standards for editing, design, and manufacturing. And we also ensure that each book is carefully positioned in the market channel most appropriate for reaching its primary audience—that is, libraries, bookstores, on-line vendors, electronic collections, and searchable databases.

Working hard to maintain this commitment to intellectual quality and high production values is a creative, energetic, and enthusiastic staff who work closely together to make the whole process from manuscript creation to publication both seamless for the author and timely for the buyer. Their efforts are augmented by a global sales, marketing, and distribution network that gives us access to wholesale and retail buyers in all the key markets of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. <back to top>


Like all university presses, we are now focused on a future in which large-scale electronic delivery will augment or possibly replace today’s paper delivery where appropriate.  To this end we are working closely with Stanford University Libraries, with whom we share this view of the future, to create a digital environment for our content that will appeal to tomorrow’s researchers, instructors, students, and practitioners.

To learn more about us please browse our online catalog, peruse our lists of award-winning titles, and explore our many series.  Whether you are an existing author, a prospective author, a university teacher, a researcher, a librarian, a bookstore buyer, a wholesale buyer, a student, or a professional, there is something for you on this site. <back to top>


Stanford University Press is a member of the Association of American University Presses and the Association of American Publishers.

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