Award Winning Books

The University of Arizona Press (UA Press) has won many IPPY Awards over the years in a variety of categories. The press won four IPPY Awards this year alone.

Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature, edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti won a silver IPPY Award this year in the category of Anthologies.

The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, edited by Blas Falconer and Lorraine M. Lopez won silver in the Multicultural Non-Fiction Adult category.

Receiving silver in the Multicultural Fiction Adult category was The Book of Want, by Daniel A. Olivas.

Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America’s Mustangs, by J. Edward de Steiguer won a gold IPPY Award in the category of Best Regional Non-Fiction this year.

In 2011, the UA Press received an IPPY Award for Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail, by Kathryn Ferguson, Norma A. Price, and Ted Parks and for Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing, edited by Rigoberto González. The books won gold and silver respectively.

Seven other recent IPPY Awards were given to the UA Press from 2007 through 2009. The awarded books include Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer, by Richard Shelton and If I Die in Juárez, by Stella Pope Duarte.



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Finding Success Where Others Crumble

It’s no secret that the past several years have been difficult for university presses. It has been a challenge for many presses to stay afloat and adapt to new industry standards while university budgets shrink. A recent article in The New York Times states that “half a dozen universities have closed or suspended their presses over the past three tightening budgets have complicated efforts by university presses to keep up with the changing publishing marketplace.”

The University of Arizona Press (the UA Press) is a university press with its head way above water as it continues to thrive in today’s publishing market and economy. By continually expanding its catalog with quality works about Arizona and the Southwest borderlands – and with the awards to prove it – the UA Press has shown that it isn’t going anywhere.

The UA Press is a nonprofit publisher that began as a department of the University of Arizona. Holly Schaffer, the publicity manager for the UA Press, explained that the press “began as a program offering groundbreaking work in anthropology and has since grown to include award-winning books in more than 30 subject areas.” The press publishes scholarly works on current research as well as general interest pieces on the topics of space science, Latin American studies, ecology, American Indian studies, archaeology, geography, and history among others.

The press was founded in 1959, and it now typically publishes more than fifty books every year. Schaffer described the UA Press’s readership, saying, “With more than 1,000 books in print, the titles we publish reach multiple audiences, including scholars across disciplines and readers of regional work by and about Southern Arizonans.”

With titles in a variety of subject areas, it’s no wonder that the UA Press features a number of book series for its readers, including series in the areas of anthropology, environmental studies, and astronomy. Some series, such as the Camino del Sol series, which is composed of pieces of creative writing from Latina and Latino writers, include over 70 titles.

The UA Press is consistently recognized for its contributions to the industry, particularly for its regional titles and works of Latin American culture. Among its many accolades are thirteen IPPY Awards for titles published over the past five years, several of which received gold medals in their categories.

The UA Press has received a slew of other awards and honorable mentions for its published works. Both the Arizona Book Publishers Association and the Native Writers Circle of the Americas named the press Publisher of the Year, Schaffer said. The press was also named one of the most innovative university presses by The Huffington Post in 2010.

Books published by the UA Press “have garnered awards and accolades that demonstrate their far-reaching influence,” explains Schaffer. Not only are UA Press titles are award-winning in quality, but their influence also transcends barriers and borders. For instance, Schaffer described Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature as the “first anthology of indigenous queer literature in more than two decades. It spans genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and essay) and themes (memory, history, sexuality, family, love, and loss).”

The state of Arizona is celebrating its centennial this year. Inspired by the centennial, the Journal of Arizona History issued a special edition, which included a list of "100 essential books that define the cultural, historical, environmental, and political landscape of the Grand Canyon State." The list was put together by a selection committee of seven bibliophiles. The UA Press is contributing twenty of the top 100 must-reads about its home state. An exhibit featuring these titles is up at Special Collections, part of the University of Arizona Library, where an opening lecture about the “Arizona 100: Essential Books for the Centennial” bibliography will take place in late August.

The UA Press has much to celebrate, for even in the face of a dynamic industry and as budgets continue to tighten, it remains a successful independent publisher. Schaffer notes the need for flexibility in the upcoming years as industry practices continue to change:

“Like all publishers, we are active participants in the new era of publishing that is unfolding before us. Digital initiatives, unprecedented collaborations, and open eyes and minds are needed to ensure our place in the future world of book publishing.

“We are constantly striving to understand new possibilities and to embrace change, to learn from fellow publishers, and to overcome challenges by continuing to release the best books we can while adapting our business practices to the changing environment. We look forward to the next fifty years!”

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Ariel Bronson is a senior at the University of Michigan studying as a dual concentrator in English and Communication Studies. She worked as an editorial intern at Sleeping Bear Press in 2011 and is currently an Online Content Editor at LEAD Magazine on Michigan’s campus. Please contact her with any comments, questions, or criticisms at