by Max Brantley
Larry decided a couple months ago to retire at the end of 2013. The reason things seem so sudden is due to his desire to keep things quiet. He's been very private about this and he's been supported all the way, although I suspected there may be a perception issue at this point. The Press is on good footing and the University's commitment to the Press is solid, I'm confident. Larry and I have been discussing an arrangement for him to work in an editor-at-large role going forward.
While its neighbor to the north, the University of Missouri Press, is in grave danger, the University of Arkansas Pressappears reasonably secure. Some 14 years ago, the UA Press survived the same sort of threat the Missouri Press is facing now, and ever since then, friends of the press have kept a close eye on it and the UA administration, which once wanted to shut the press down.
The present chancellor at Fayetteville, David Gearhart, says "We think the press serves a very important purpose for the university, the state and the nation. We publish books from all over the country. ... We hope some day they'll be able to pay their own way. But we're not overly concerned about it. It's not a heavy cost to the university."
Few if any university presses ever break even on their operations. Part of their job is to publish worthy books that would go unpublished otherwise. Most university-press books are not bestsellers.