Can We Make This a Place for UPB Communications?

Like many websites and blogs, this has become dated and inactive. I don’t think it can be much of a review medium, but perhaps it can be a place where we attempt to communicate substantively with our important publishers, customers, supporters, and partners. There are so many important relationships, moving parts, opportunities and challenges that need to be discussed as … Read More

Seeking Partner at UPB/Berkeley

We are looking for a qualified and capable investor/partner/manager to assume major responsibilities for the complex of cultural businesses located in our building at 2430 Bancroft Way in Berkeley. The circumstances and conditions that describe this can be  viewed at UPB-Berkeley Opportunity 5_12

Sad Harvard/Yale/MIT Book Deaths at UPB/Berkeley

The long-slow decline at UPB/Berkeley has been driven, in large measure, by the decline of our ability to finance a deep inventory of the wonderful-but-often-slow-selling books published by university presses. Some 10,000 individual titles from the most important presses have been removed over the last decade in the ebb and flow of fewer new books ordered, many often sold but … Read More

Why We Mustn’t Let Online Retailers Take Over the Retail Landscape

Before you put in that next order for a cheap, convenient, tax-free purchase, please consider this:,0,7937001,full.story If the working conditions described in these articles trouble you, remember that we as consumers have the power to make a difference.  Those of us who choose to pay a bit more for free-range chicken eggs or certified humane dairy products, or … Read More

PRODIGAL PROUST by Patrick McMahon

Mention Marcel Proust’s a la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time, or Remembrance of Things Past) and the inevitable observation will concern its sheer length, three thousand plus pages and six or seven volumes depending on the edition. To have read it in its entirety, as few do (although many quote) is widely considered to be a … Read More

Is Bookselling a Profession? – III

A professional bookseller buys and sells properties, much like a publisher or the procuress in Vermeer’s great painting below.  It is work, money exchanges hands, people are rewarded by buying and selling.  It takes knowledge, judgment, skill, time, caring, and an ability to manage money.  Some do it for a short time, some long.  Sometimes it adds up to something … Read More

Is Bookselling a Profession? II

I’ve had some blowback on my preoccupation with this question. Barnes says “don’t be patronizing/manupulating,” Creveling says “of course it is,”  Lopez and Sutton say, “sure, but we don’t need this,” and Karen says “get over it, this is getting tiresome.” Maybe Metier — as Callenbach and Bensky have suggested — is a better word: métier . . . .a trade, … Read More

Is Bookselling a Profession?

My old publishing buddies — Stanley Holowitz, Ernest Callenbach, Czeslaw Jan Grycz, Grant Barnes, and I — have been talking about professionialism and whether the honorific and challenge can be rightly applied to bookselling, particularly  at UPB/Berkeley. Callenbach in his thoughtful way writes: “A sense of professionalism always, I think, involves some kind of community of colleagues—who influence, educate, and … Read More

The Argument Culture Lives On

I am re-reading The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue by linguist Deborah Tannen.   It was published in 1998, but as Washington wrangles over the debt and deficit crisis I find this book to be more relevant than ever.  In fact, I wish every member of Congress, the President, and the press would read and ponder it thoughtfully. Tannen … Read More

The Art of Publishing at UPB

On December 13, 2010, three legendary local publishers  — Malcolm Margolin, Lynne Withey, and Ernest Callenbach — came to UPB to talk about the joys and challenges of publishing in Berkeley over the last 50 years, mainly at the University of California Press and Heyday Books, where there has been an immense outpouring of creativity. A smudge on the lens … Read More


One hundred years after the death of Mark Twain, the publication of his autobiography by UC Press is looking like the publishing phenomenon of this new century.  The excitement caught even UC Press by surprise as their first print run sold out, and they are churning out more as fast as they can.  Here at UPB, we have just put … Read More


“. . . a specialized, localized haven. . . University Press Books, offering a super and sizeable selection of niche. The store’s intimate aesthetic is more a dream-library than a place of business. And this reflects its mindset, for the store is no profit-maximizing firm, but its own special ecosystem, privileging the small and the slow, and savoring rather than … Read More

Nietzsche on Slow Reading

Vincent Gillespie, J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language at Oxford University and Distinguished Professor for Medieval Studies this term at Berkeley offers this to our Slow Reading endeavours: Nietzsche Preface added to the 1886 edition of The Dawn: I have not been a philologist in vain – perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading… Philology … Read More

Just a Phrase I’m Going Through: My Life in Language by David Crystal, Routledge, 2009, paperback, $26.95.

I’ve just finished reading British linguist David Crystal’s autobiography.  Often hilarious, sometimes poignant, it’s a sheer delight.  The author’s curiosity and zest for everything linguistic (and beyond) is infectious.  John Lawler’s review of this book says of the first chapter, “Being a Linguist,” that “every linguist in the world will go yessing through this chapter.”  I would add that many … Read More

Slow Reading Dinners at UPB

Dinner and Reading Gatherings each month Join us around UPB’s great table, where we will eat and talk about reading in the slow lane. We will enjoy wine and edibles prepared by the Musical Offering’s genius chef Erick Balbuena, featuring many ingredients gathered from the Berkeley Hills. We ask everyone to bring a paragraph or a few words you love that must … Read More

Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books, Edited by Jo Steffens, Yale University Press, 2009, $20 cloth

A delightful set of meditations and lists (along with striking images of their heavily laden shelves and a gem of an essay by Walter Benjamin: “Unpacking My Library”) by several renowned contemporary architects who view their vocations and their passionate relations with printed volumes as bound up with a kindred aesthetic obsession, and for whom form, function and content (and … Read More

UPB: About Authors and Readers

“We too must write Bibles, to unite again the heavenly and the earthly world.” That’s Emerson on Goethe in Richardson, First We Read, Then We Write (Iowa, 2009), which I am nominating for UPB’s Best Gift Book of the Year.

The Simple Act of Reading

Now that the weather is turning cold, the type of book I seek out is one in which I can lose myself on a rainy day.  For this purpose I highly recommend Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (HarperCollins, 1994).  At 1474 pages (and 2.5 pounds), this is not a book to be picked up lightly.  But this sprawling, absorbing and … Read More

What is it you are writing for, anyway?

“You should start,” he told his young friend, “with no skeleton or plan.  The natural one will grow as you work. Knock away all scaffolding. Neither have exordium or peroration. What is it you are writing for, anyway? Because you have something new to say?  It is the test of the universities and I am glad you have made it yours.” … Read More

National Bookstore Day

The estimable Harvard/MIT/Yale representative, Patricia Nelson, writes this week: What’s a day without a bookstore? We cherish you all as wonderful retreats, browsing heavens, the perfect place to meet, the perfect date, the perfect outing with children, a wonderful daily oasis, a welcoming place of solitude, a magic theater of words, a generous place of discussion and shared passions, a constantly … Read More

National Strike Reading List & Upcoming Read-Ins

In conjunction with the upcoming national strikes, University Press Books will be hosting Read-Ins in our Berkeley-based bookstore. On Feb 17th 2017, a national strike has been called in defense of the United States Constitution, as well as the rights of minorities, women, immigrants, and journalists.  On March 8th, 2017, a national women’s strike entitled “A Day without Women” has … Read More

Ring in the New Year with UPB’s Top 10 Books of the Year!

As a bookstore across the street from the great university at Berkeley, we specialize in books for people who are unapologetically scholarly, books for people who read a lot and are proud of it!  We are also at the epicenter of the historical Free Speech Movement, and serve many readers whose minds are alight as they work to bring freedom, … Read More