University of Michigan Press operations during COVID-19 spread

by Charles Watkinson on September 10, 2020

The University of Michigan Press staff anticipates being able to largely maintain normal operations during the pandemic, but the uncertain trajectory of COVID-19 means that this may change. Also, our operations are highly reliant on manufacturing and distribution partners whose own operations are being disrupted and on University of Michigan shared services that may be affected by staff shortages. Our commitment to authors, libraries, retailers, instructors, students, and other readers is to be as flexible and adaptable as possible to continue to serve your needs.

We will communicate any severe disruptions here and through Twitter.

As part of the University of Michigan we follow the University’s policies and guidance which are constantly being updated and communicated.

Currently, the main impacts on the Press are as follows:

  • Travel restrictions/advisories: Restrictions on both international and domestic trips have been put in place by our parent University. This means that University of Michigan Press staff will not be attending any conferences or meetings outside Ann Arbor which have not already been canceled until after June 30 at the earliest. Travel funds may also be restricted by the University for the rest of the calendar year which could reduce our visibility at meetings.
  • Remote working: Since March 17, 2020, all staff members have been working remotely. This means that email is the best form of communication — you can find staff emails here or contact mpub-help@umich.edu with general questions which will be routed to the appropriate person. For in-person meetings, do not be surprised to receive either a “Zoom” or “Bluejeans” invitation — Bluejeans is our main videoconferencing system.
  • Availability of printed books: Continuity in the production and shipping of print books is dependent on our printers and distributors:
    • North America: The Chicago Distribution Center warehouse (where UMP holds its stock of books) is operating but there may be some shipping delays. Customers who order a title through the Press’s shopping cart will see an availability message that indicates status. We continue to actively move books into print-on-demand so we can respond to future disruptions.
    • Rest of World: Our distributor serving markets outside North America is Eurospan. Eurospan currently reports work as normal but some reduced staffing which may delay shipping.
  • Availability of electronic books: For a limited period, we made all titles in the library-facing University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection (UMP EBC) free-to-read. This ended at end of August 2020, but we continue to expand the range of titles we make available as ebooks. And we are also working to explore options that will make more titles open access titles.
  • Forthcoming books: Our authors’ lives are also, of course, disrupted, but if authors are able to stick to deadlines, we are too. Book publication dates remain unchanged.
  • Financial operations: Since we are dependent on shared services at the University of Michigan, some functions such as accounts payable and royalty payments may be delayed. However, we recognize that suppliers and rights holders are facing their own financial challenges, and we will work to report and pay as promptly as possible.

We are fortunate as a business to operate primarily online already and to exist within the infrastructure of a large University with a strong commitment to evidence-based responses and business continuity. However, the current situation is unprecedented in recent times and we share the uncertainty that you all are also facing. For answers to questions not addressed here, please contact mpub-help@umich.edu and the appropriate person will respond.

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