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Building on a legacy

New name, same mission: ISER Books now Memorial University Press


By Terri Coles

Memorial University’s academic book publisher will now be known as Memorial University Press.

The name change for ISER Books, the publishing division of the Institute of Social and Economic Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, was approved by Vice-Presidents Council in October 2020. 

The change, which will be accompanied by a relaunched website and brand later this spring, more clearly associates the press and its work with the university, says managing editor Alison Carr. 

“ISER Books has a long history of publishing high-quality, important books,” she said. “But, we have found we have a lack of name recognition. ISER does not tell you anything about where we are located or how we are affiliated. Memorial University Press is a much more accurate and identifiable name, that makes it immediately clear who we are and what we do.”

Ms. Carr also says the new name positions the press on the same plane as its sister university presses in Canada.

“Better brand recognition will help us continue to broaden the dissemination of the important work we publish.” 

North Atlantic focus

ISER Books has long operated as a university press in everything but name, says Dr. Fiona Polack, associate professor in the Department of English and academic editor of ISER Books. 

A woman in a green dress sits on the stairs and smiles up at the camera.
Dr. Fiona Polack is the academic editor for Memorial University Press.
Photo: Memorial University

“We’ve published so many terrific, award-winning titles over the years. We always commit to upholding the highest scholarly standards,” Dr. Polack said.  

“Our new official designation lets us build on that legacy, bringing attention to existing authors and helping recruit new ones.” 

The press’s priority for publishing research focused on the North Atlantic region remains, Dr. Polack says. This ensures the press’ ongoing alignment with the geographic reality and research strengths of Memorial. 

“We want to be the go-to academic publisher for all things North Atlantic across many disciplines and authorial perspectives.” 

Academic and trade success

Over the last several years, the press has worked to increase its output from two new titles a year to four.

The books have been increasingly successful, both academically and with the general public. 

A woman with brown hair, wearing a blue shirt, stands in front of a river.
Dr. Andrea Procter, the author of A Long Journey, on the Grand River in Labrador.
Photo: Submitted

For example, the 2020 publication A Long Journey: Residential Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador by Andrea Procter was a finalist for the BMO Winterset Award and won the MUN Peter Cashin Prize.

Earlier this month, A Long Journey was nominated for the Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing.  

A Long Journey and the three other fall 2020 titles have been successful, Ms. Carr says, despite the challenges of the pandemic and some publication delays.

Plans are currently underway for the announcement of four new titles for spring 2021. Information about those books will come with the May 2021 launch of the website and brand. 

In the meantime, the press is eager to hear from researchers doing work that fits its publication mandate. 

“I want to call on Memorial’s amazing scholars to take part in shaping the press’s future,” Dr. Polack said. “If you’ve got an idea for an academic book, we want to hear it!” 

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