Guest Speaker Introduction: Eric Zinner

Having completed his MA in Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon, Eric Zinner began at the bottom of the publishing world. He started with an internship at Jewish magazine Tikkun and climbed up the ladder to his current position at NYU Press, where he has been Assistant Director and Editor-in-Chief since the year 2000, following three years as an Editor.

Zinner is experienced in both university and trade publishing. Prior to working for NYU Press, Zinner held an Acquisitions Editor position at Routledge, the British publishing house known primarily for its scholarly work. Zinner highlights the differences between the two approaches to scholarly publishing, university and trade, in this interview with the Minnesota Review.  He notes in particular the discipline specialisation of university publishing, as opposed to trade publishing where “you rarely find a trade editor who wouldn’t acquire any interesting book that struck their fancy.”

When Zinner first joined NYU Press it had not focused its discipline specialisation like competing university publishing houses. Fortunately, Zinner managed to attract previous clients from Routledge, which was suffering internal difficulties at the time, and helped establish a strong list of publications in Cultural Studies and Media Studies.  These two fields have since become intrinsically associated with NYU Press, even more so following Zinner’s instatement as Editor-in-Chief.

Whilst at NYU Press, Zinner has faced a rapidly changing academic publishing landscape. As the popularity and scholarship in the humanities waned among students, shifting to economics and the natural sciences, Zinner has managed to keep his publishing house active, particularly through encouraging interdisciplinarity. Similarly, Zinner has faced challenges with the rapid development of technology as scholarly work is reaching its audience through countless new media. This has lead to a steep decline in revenue from traditional sources (especially hard-back print). However, despite these hurdles, Zinner’s publications have been frequently receiving awards, including National Jewish Book Awards, Katherine Singer Kovács Book Awards (Cinema & Media Studies) and the Alan Merriam Prize (Ethnomusicology), all of which are coveted achievements in their respective fields.

– Nicholas Gubbins

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