Funding for the Texas A&M University Press enhances its reputation as a respected book publisher.
Small American flags hung from the fence at the end of a seldom-traveled dirt road along the Arizona-Mexico border. The April day was calm and clear, a perfect 65 degrees, and the Huachuca Mountains beckoned to the north.
The scenic outpost marked the starting point of an epic 3,000-mile border-to-border horseback trek made by four Aggies: Ben Masters ’11, Ben Thamer ’11, Thomas Glover ’12 and Jonny Fitzsimons ’12. For more than six months, the men traveled through the deep backcountry of the American West on mustangs, from Mexico to Canada, for personal adventure and to bring wider attention to the plight of wild horses on public lands.
Their trip of a lifetime has since formed the basis of a documentary film and also a book. Unbranded: Four Men and Sixteen Mustangs. Three Thousand Miles across the American West was released by Texas A&M University Press.
The book introduces readers to the young horsemen, several of their memorable traveling companions, and most important, the project’s namesakes: the wild mustangs adopted and trained to make the difficult journey.
One of about 60 titles the press publishes each year, Unbranded is part of the more than 1,500 other books that bear the Texas A&M University Press imprint.
Shannon Davies, the press’s editor-in-chief, says Unbranded recasts expectations of what scholarly presses produce and advances the national impact of the Texas A&M imprint.
“All of our books provide authoritative knowledge or original scholarship, but a book such as Unbranded also extends the press’s reach and impact to general readers and makes them passionate about the subject covered,” Davies said.
Founded in 1974 during a short boom of university press openings across the country, Texas A&M University Press aims to select and publish books that reflect and enhance the university’s strengths, confirming Texas A&M’s credentials as a top-tier research university.
Over the years, the press has developed a worldwide reputation in a dozen or more academic fields (including physical anthropology, nautical archaeology, military history and presidential rhetoric), and has also staked its claim as the foremost publisher of general interest books on all aspects of Texas, from its history and cultures to its natural resources. This diversity of specialized subject areas ensures that the press attracts a broad mix of authors who are authorities in their respective fields.
One other example is Paul Chaplo, who used his unique skillset to photograph the breathtaking Big Bend landscape from the air. His book, Marfa Flights: Aerial Views of Big Bend Country, presents a hawk’s eye view of the ruggedly beautiful region.
“It was most rewarding to team up with the creative professionals at Texas A&M University Press,” Chaplo said. “Their collaborative spirit, tireless support and insistence on quality is inspiring. As I traveled on the Marfa Flights book tour, I came to realize that my publisher stands head and shoulders above other presses.”
To ensure continued growth, Texas A&M Press continues to develop new publishing collaborations with departments and programs on the College Station campus and at several other Texas A&M System institutions.
During an age in which e-books are changing the landscape of publishing, the press is also committed to being at the forefront of digital publication. Through collaborations with e-book vendors like Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and the Apple iBookstore, the press is finding new ways to reach readers in an electronic domain.
In addition to these knowledge-based collaborations, the press also benefits from private donations. Outside support allows the press to fund key leadership positions and student internships that provide professional experiences for their Aggie holders. Gifts can support essential press needs ranging from underwriting the highest quality book design to acquiring the latest publishing and distribution technologies.
Donors like the late John Tom Campbell ’45, a rancher from Brady, Texas, understand the importance of supporting the press. In 2009, Campbell gave a $2 million planned gift to establish the Edward R. Campbell ’39 endowed chair in honor of his brother, the first such chair for a press director in the country. He also created a separate unrestricted $5 million endowment for the press.
And with a book on its shelves like Unbranded—a compelling story of mustangs, western heritage and open spaces—the press continues turning the page on a bright future of publishing at Texas A&M.
To support the University Press and learn about endowment opportunities, contact Shannon Davies.