Goldsmiths Press celebrates the ‘overwhelming success’ of first publication

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The new university press from Goldsmiths, University of London has scored a hit with its first title – with the work being reprinted just weeks after it went on sale.

Founders of Goldsmiths Press have hailed the “overwhelming success” of Academic Diary: Or Why Higher Education Still Matters by Professor Les Back.

The book launched at the end of April and has won praise in both national and higher education media as well as appearing in the Blackwell’s Bestseller list.

On Thursday 7 July, Academic Diary was reviewed in the Times Higher Education by Carleton University, Ottawa, physicist Andrew Robinson, who described Professor Back's writing as "perceptive", "funny" and "polished". "Where Academic Diary really starts to sing is when Back describes some of the dilemmas a university teacher faces, and how the teacher tackles them," Robinson said. 

Academic Diary has also won praise in leading medical journal The Lancet.

In a full-page editorial, The Lancet’s Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton noted Professor Back’s attention to the hidden aspects of university life, and concluded that “whether you are a sceptical student or a cynical professor, Academic Diary will remind you of why a life of intellectual endeavour truly matters”.

The article praised the “humanity” in Professor Back’s words, noting his rejection of “the usual backbiting criticism so common in academic writing”.

The work’s success is an impressive start for Goldsmiths Press, which was launched with the goal of reviving and regenerating the traditions and values of university publishing.

Goldsmiths Press is driven by a widely-recognised need for new forms of academic publishing in the digital age – with a commitment to both physical and digital publishing. The new venture also highlights the strengths of Goldsmiths as an incubator of ideas and creativity for more than a century.

Goldsmiths Press Director, Professor Sarah Kember said: “We’re delighted to report that the work has been such a success.

“Following very impressive sales and very nearly selling out in the first few weeks of publication we have just taken receipt of out first reprints.”

The work by Professor Les Back, who is based in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, chronicles three decades of his academic career – capturing the sometimes absurd campus tales, the opaque rituals of scholarship and a personal perspective on the far-reaching issues of university life.

Professor Back said: “I think the book has resonated with readers because they are trying to find a way to express what is precious and valuable about thinking, learning and scholarship beyond the established metrics and higher education league tables.

"Through things like Twitter you can also get a real sense of what readers are making of the book too… even where they are reading it, from the commuter train to poolside holiday.    

Alongside the paperback version the work is also available to purchase as an ebook in Kindle and ePub formats.

It is also hoped that the book will achieve global success thanks to a distribution partnership with the renowned MIT Press. Academic Diary is available to buy in the US where media coverage over the coming months is expected to lead to a spike in sales.

Forthcoming projects include a literary app to accompany the Goldsmiths Prize this autumn while print and ebooks to be published next year include The Death of Public Knowledge?, Liberalism in Neoliberal Times and Stuart Hall: Conversations, Projects and Legacies.

Visit the Goldsmiths Press website for more information.