Author wants his book back from University of Missouri Press

Jul 18, 2012

The backlash continues over the so-called “new model” for the University of Missouri Press. one of the Press’ authors wrote a letter to UM System President Tim Wolfe, who closed the old press as a cost-cutting measure.

Author Don Spivey notified Wolfe of his desire to remove his biography of baseball legend Satchel Paige from the University of Missouri Press. It was published in May, and Spivey’s worried about the future of his book.

“You know I don’t want to go through a situation where I start having to say, you know, I’ve already been advised get an attorney. Pull your whole manuscript, hardbound, and any future rights to paperback, from them and go with another press,” Spivey said.

Spivey says he was drawn to the press because of its reputation and because of the people who worked there. MU announced a new incarnation of the press this week, which will be directly incorporated into the academic mission of the school. Spivey is concerned the long-term goals of that press may be different.

“So I’ve gotta have answers to this thing, because It’s not only about 12 years of my work, but it’s also about the subject itself,” Spivey said.

MU says the new press will hire 4 full time employees and 5 or more graduate- level interns, instead of the 10 full time staff members like at the old press. Spivey says he chose to work with a university press for a number of reasons; among them the fact that a 12-year-long project is more fitting with the goals of that type of press, compared to a commercial press. He also was attracted to the possibility of keeping his book on the presses for decades, compared to the shorter time frame many other publishers will continue to print copies.  To hear the raw interview with Spivey where he talks more about the University’s moves from an author’s perspective, listen to the audio above.

Spivey provided KBIA with these emails he sent to University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe:

From:Spivey, Donald
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2012 10:17 PM
To: Wolfe, Tim M.
Subject: RE: Press announcement

Dear President Wolfe,

I would like to speak to someone in charge at the new University of Missouri Press about moving my recently published book to another press.  I have had several offers from both university and commercial publishers.  After twelve years of research to achieve the definitive biography of the legendary Satchel Paige, I think you can understand why I want the book, in all of its forms, in competent and stable hands for both the short and the long term. 

Please have whomever is in charge of the press to contact me.

Sincerely,

Donald Spivey

author of:  "If You Were Only White:"  The Life of Leroy "Satchel" Paige (University of Missouri Press, 14 May 2012)

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From:Spivey, Donald
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 3:19 PM
To: Wolfe, Tim M.
Subject: RE: Request to withdraw my book from the University of Missouri Press

17 July 2012

Dear President Wolfe,

Re:  Request to withdraw my book from the University of Missouri Press

I am notifying you of my desire to remove my book, “If You Were Only White:  The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige, from the University of Missouri Press, since the press has announced nationally that it is ceasing operations as a traditional university press.  That the University of Missouri Press was a respected “traditional” university press was a major reason that I entrusted it with my twelve years of research for this book and published with it. Thus far, the book has been published and issued only in hardback edition.  I want the opportunity to have the paperback edition, and all future versions of the book, handled by an established press.  Several university and commercial presses have contacted me about the prospects of taking over publication of the book.  I would like to pursue these possibilities immediately.  I have consulted an attorney, and would like to have this resolved without having to go the legal route.

Please let me hear from you or your office at the earliest convenience.  Thank you.

Sincerely,   

Donald Spivey