UCT Press hatched from the unlikely shell company Audio Vision, acquired by UCT in 1993. The scholarly publisher was first registered as a company in June of that year and its first titles were published in September.
Two years after the press was formed, UCT sold its majority shareholding to Juta and Company, and let go of its remaining shares in 1999; UCT Press became a wholly owned subsidiary of Juta. It is now run as a publishing imprint of Juta, under the guidance of UCT faculty members who comprise its editorial board.
Twenty-one years ago, UCT Press' main business was to publish and distribute academic books in short print-runs, using cost-effective, high-speed laser printing.
"However, digital printing was still in its early days, and it was still too expensive to print small amounts," says UCT Press Publisher Sandy Shepherd.
Shepherd says that digital costs have come down over the years, allowing shorter print runs. Technological developments have also enabled the revival of books that were once out of print.
"We currently have around 100 books in print in 12 academic disciplines that include African studies, development and environmental studies, health, economics, history, literature, psychology and law.
"Our notable titles include Knowledge in the Blood: Confronting Race and the Apartheid Past by Jonathan Jansen; Ubu and the Truth Commission by Jane Taylor, and Viewpoints: the University of Cape Town and its Treasures."
Shepherd says their expansion into e-books and onto various online platforms has further contributed to the success of UCT Press.
"Our sales and marketing strategies include email, the web and social media, as well as partnerships with international distributors, which enable us to market and sell our books outside of Southern Africa, and ultimately to ensure global reach.
"Promoting our South African academics and their research, and building new audiences among the general public, remain priorities. We look forward to new close collaborations with other South African scholarly publishers, to growing our business and to increasing awareness of UCT Press."
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