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University of Virginia Press
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In 2006, the Association of American University Presses chose 'transformational publishing' as the theme of its annual meeting. The keynote speakers and panellists made clear how university press publishing continues to be transformed by the use of new technologies and how different ways of publishing may be opening up new possibilities for scholars. The changes may be gradual, but they are profound.

In last year's University Press Forum in Choice, Bruce Wilcox, director of the University of Massachusetts Press, noted the ways that university presses are using digital technologies to transform many aspects of their business, but he found that 'so far the transformation has been in the process rather than the product.' With respect to the 'product,' he mentioned a number of promising experiments in the publication of digital monographs at the university presses of Oxford, California, Penn State, and Michigan. I would like to report on a venture at University of Virginia Press that involves the development of digital scholarly editions rather than monographs.

We have been given a most unusual opportunity to develop digital publications. As a mid-sized press without a journals program, we would not have been able to establish an ambitious digital program with our normal resources. Digital publishing requires a considerable initial investment to develop the technical infrastructure and expert staffing. The UVa Press was able to make the leap to digital publishing when the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation matched a grant from the president's office of the university to establish a digital imprint at the UVa Press. We named the imprint 'Rotunda,' after Thomas Jefferson's iconic building at the university he founded.

Initially the imprint was intended to foster the development of original digital work. Possibly we were ahead of the times, since we found a dearth of suitable projects to sustain an all-original program. Market research also taught us the preference of librarians for large archives over many small individual projects. We soon decided to add the conversion of existing print publications to Rotunda's portfolio and to develop the list in coherent subject collections. Rotunda began to make a specialty of scholarly editions – critical editions of literary works and documentary editions of historical papers – both original digital editions and conversions of print editions. This fit well with the strengths of the UVa Press, which had been publishing the Papers of George Washington since the Press's founding in 1963 and the Papers of James Madison since the early 1980s. Both these ongoing editions may need another two decades of editorial work before they can be completed.

In the early stages of developing Rotunda, we relied on discussions with an advisory committee that included the director of the university library, the director of the university's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, two publishers, and several technology experts. We were greatly helped by various centres on campus and by the library (which shared their knowledge of digital projects), by our colleagues in university press publishing, and by documentary editors who have been considering how early preparation work might be integrated with the publishing process and told us of the new tools they use to manage thousands of papers. The foundation support also made possible the luxury of professional market research and assistance with the business plan. Rotunda publications are available on a 'perpetual licence' basis, with fees for institutions based on the most recent Carnegie classifications.1

Rotunda's first publication, released in November 2004, was an original digital work, The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, edited by Holly Shulman. Among the accolades was a letter from a scriptwriter for a PBS documentary on Dolley Madison: 'The website was wonderful. It was just enormously helpful to me, and I came to appreciate how beautifully arranged and detailed the website was.' Cokie Roberts used the edition in her research and wrote the editor: 'Useful! It is invaluable. What fabulous, fabulous work you have done.' The edition was given a special commendation by the Society for History in the Federal Government: 'Judged to be an outstanding contribution to furthering history of and in the Federal Government on the basis of significance of subject matter, depth of research, innovative methodology...

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