Forum, Dec. 6: A Different Read on UPNE Closing

Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A Different Read on UPNE Closing

I would like to respond to some of W.D. Wetherell’s comments about the history and closing of University Press of New England (“Literature Needs an Infrastructure and the Valley’s Is Crumbling,” Nov. 30).

Although a “wonderfully brave publisher” indeed, UPNE was not “as far from the traditional academic press model as it was possible to be.” UPNE’s core mission was, and remained until the end, the publication of fine scholarly monographs. In fact, one of Phil Pochoda’s contributions to the growth of UPNE in the 1990s, when he served as editorial director under directors Tom McFarland and Richard Abel, was the development of award-winning scholarly book series at Dartmouth College, Brandeis University, Middlebury College, Tufts University and the University of New Hampshire. To raise needed revenue, UPNE had by then begun to publish additional regional fiction and general-interest books. UPNE Book Partners was created to serve the publishing needs of dozens of small publishers. As late as 2014, UPNE launched ForeEdge, a trade book imprint.

UPNE’s “heyday” did not conclude in the 1990s, but extended well into the 21st century.

The closing of the Dartmouth bookstore and UPNE are of course related, but not in the way Wetherell suggests: the former did not cause the latter. However, bookstores and publishers do share inimical trends besieging them both. One example: I teach writing at Dartmouth College. We were recently notified that no local bookstore will order books for the winter 2019 term, and urged to plan accordingly.

Students now typically purchase assigned texts online at cut-rate prices. After term, they typically sell them back. Only last week, at the corner of Main Street and West Wheelock, a commercial buyer eagerly offered them deals on their used books. This practice, which eviscerates the textbook market, is an ever-growing raid on both publishers’ and bookstores’ principal source of revenue.

I fully concur with Wetherell that “the larger implications for the world of books and literature are depressing in the extreme.” Write books, read books and talk about them. And every now and then, buy one, full price, at a real bookstore.

Phyllis Deutsch


The writer served as senior editor and editor-in-chief at UPNE from 1996-2017.

Of Stupidity, Ignorance and Civility

You more than likely will not publish this letter, like many I have sent prior to this one. I open up your newspaper and see a lot of stupidity and total ignorance. One side — either a Democrat, most often, and some Republicans — bashing the other side with total slander. This has become the norm in the United States today.

You can put the blame on Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and all those who support either one of these two hatemongers. Both men lie about everything and promise their followers a reality that, plain and simple, cannot and will not exist. I do not blame either party. I blame the people within them. There are good people with good intentions on both sides, which we so often forget these days in America.

I look at Vermont and New Hampshire as prime examples. Vermont has been controlled by Democrats for the last 40 years. It, in my opinion, is a very failed state. We are overtaxed and it is impossible to hire young folks as they have either left our state or are living off the system or are on drugs. In New Hampshire, business is booming and growth is strong, but there is a peril in the fact that the Republicans who took total control there a few years ago are only concerned about being able to carry firearms into the Capitol building and schools. All the while local taxes spiral out of control, just like in Vermont.

These issues were not caused by parties. They were caused by people, ignorant people, in both parties.

I hope we can find civility in this country — not on CNN or Fox News, not with Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump — but instead finding common ground and the ability to work with each other.

The two-party system has failed in its short life span. It is time to scrap it and move on.

I wish everyone a merry Christmas and, with hope, a joyous new year.

Doug Tuthill

West Hartford

Sharon Bottle Drop-Off Fits Bill

Over the past several months, Sharon has been the beneficiary of a wonderful service. I notice it all the time, but it is most appreciated over the holidays. It is great to have family and friends celebrating, but when the festivities end, these wonderful people tend to leave a lot behind as they head for home.

So, what is the benefit offered? Who is the benefactor?

Boy Scout Troop 205 in Sharon maintains a large and easy-to-access bottle drop-off box downtown. It is almost a pleasure to round up all the empties, put them in a large bag and head downtown. After a 3-mile round trip and minimal effort, all my bottles are gone. Wonderful. Thank you, Troop 205.

Doug Moore