Free Scholarly E-books from UC Press

UCPress

As an insider to the academic publishing field, I’ve long been enamored with the University of California Press. Somehow they’ve avoided many of the common mistakes of scholarly publishers, such as locking down intellectual property and restricting new, alternative ways of accessing content. Their website is current and belies a keen business sense, which is especially impressive considering they’re a university press. The homepage features videos and podcasts of the authors discussing their works. And their content is stellar, covering fascinating, not-just-for-the-academics topics such as a sociologist’s undercover analysis of the economics of beauty in the modeling industry, and retellings of Californian Indian legends.

Maybe I should save myself some time and move to San Francisco to beg for a job there.

But the new reason why I adore UC Press is their free online collection of e-books, containing hundreds of UC press books published between 1982-2004 in topics as varied as Victorian History and Wine. As a consumer and voracious reader, this finding made me clap my hands together in delight. As a publishing professional, the discovery made me gape with admiration. This collection is essentially a public, online archive for UC Press’ out-of-print books, allowing the press to keep their content in circulation for students and general consumers without all the costs of maintaining older backlist titles. Permitting the public to access the press’ older intellectual property for free is also a clever marketing strategy for their entire publishing program, and could continue to build a loyal client base that respects the publisher. This is exactly the kind of customer publishing companies yearn for—the customer that won’t just go traipsing off to Amazon they next time they want to buy a new book.

Before I leave you to a long weekend of reading, I want to share one tip for navigating the UC Press free e-book collection. The only downside to this archive is that the formatting isn’t optimized for e-readers. However, I did find a tricky way around this for any fellow Kindle users. If you have a “send to kindle” browser extension, just open the e-book online, hit “print view,” and then click your “send to kindle” button.  Voilà! The e-book should appear on your Kindle.

Happy reading!

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