The Chronicle of Higher Education is running a story about David Congdon, an acquisition editor at the University Press of Kansas who, after arriving at his new job, found a book contract that was thirty years old. He contacted the author to let him out of the contract and, surprisingly, the writer said he would finish the book.
Here is a taste:
Mr. Congdon’s comically tardy book may seem like an extreme example of editorial generosity, but The Chronicle spoke to several people with lengthy tenures at university presses. They say that anyone who spends enough time in the industry, where a turnaround of several months to a few years for a book is the norm, will very likely encounter a project that is the not only years late, but decades so.
“Oh yes, this is something that comes up with surprising frequency!” wrote Leila Salisbury, director of University Press of Kentucky.
Scholarly presses, which don’t pay the enormous advances one might read about in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, have an interest in producing the best work possible, even if that means some projects far exceed deadlines most would consider timely.