Columbia University Press was founded in 1893 and is the fourth-oldest university press in the United States. The purpose of the press expressed in its Certificate of Incorporation is to "promote the study of economic, historical, literary, scientific and other subjects and to promote and encourage the publication of literary works embodying original research in such subjects." Signers of the certificate included Seth Low, then president of Columbia, Henry Fairfield Osborne, and Nicholas Murray Butler, succeeded Low in 1902 as president of the university and of the Press.
In its first quarter century, CUP's list focused on politics, including books by two U.S. presidents, Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft; on seminal books by Columbia University faculty, including Edwin Seligman; and on series—the Columbia University Biological Series, the Columbia University Studies in English and Comparative Literature, several series on Oriental and Middle Eastern studies, the first published anthropology series (edited by Franz Boas), and the Records of Civilization, a series of translations and studies of Western and, later, Asian civilization. In 1928 an editorial department was formed to create The Columbia Encyclopedia, the first comprehensive English-language encyclopedia in one volume.
In the 1940s, building on the success of The Columbia Encyclopedia, the Press expanded its reference program by publishing the Granger's Index to Poetry and The Columbia Gazetteer of the World. The two works, which now exist in both print and electronic forms, remain essential reference works that are acclaimed by librarians. In addition to these single-volume reference works, the Press has also published major multivolume works, including Geoffrey Bullough's Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the first complete English translation of Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, and The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800.
Innovative Columbia University instructional programs are reflected in the Press's publishing of material for teaching core courses on Asian civilization. Under the direction of William Theodore de Bary, the Press has published and subsequently revised four influential anthologies: Sources of Indian Tradition (first published in 1958), Sources of Japanese Tradition (1958), Sources of Chinese Tradition (1960), and Sources of Korean Tradition (1996). These anthologies have been followed by dozens of standard-setting translations, from Donald Keene's translation of the Major Plays of Chikamatsu (1961) to The Art of War: Sun Zi's Military Methods, translated by Victor Mair (2007).
Throughout its history, one of the strengths of the Press has been the diversity of the Press's list. The Press has also distinguished itself with its strong list in social work, publishing texts that have been widely adopted in courses and are used by professionals in the field. Through its European Perspectives series and the publication of the Wellek Library Lectures, the Press has published a range of innovative and leading scholars. Other notable lecture series published by Columbia University Press include The Leonard Hasting Schoff Memorial Lectures and The Bampton Lectures in America.
In recent years the press has published prominent authors from a variety of disciplines, including Theodor Adorno, Talal Asad, Peter Brown, Judith Butler, Eileen Chang, Arthur Danto, John Lewis Gaddis, Mikhail Gorbachev, R. Glenn Hubbard, Roald Hoffman, Donald Keene, Julia Kristeva, Paul Offit, John Allen Paulos, John Rawls, Jeffrey Sachs, Edward Said, Joseph Stiglitz, Hervé This, and Kenneth Waltz.
The Press currently publishes approximately 160 new titles every year in the fields of animal studies, Asian literature, Asian politics and history, biological sciences, business, culinary history, current affairs, economics, environmental sciences, film and media studies, finance, history, international affairs, literary studies, journalism, Middle Eastern studies, New York City history, philosophy, paleontology, political theory, religion, science policy, social work, and U.S. history
Widely reviewed and the recipients of numerous awards, Columbia University Press titles are sold around the world.
Columbia University Press continues to be a leader in the field of electronic publishing with innovative and timely products such as Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO), the Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, and the Columbia Gazetteer of the World.
Now in its second century of scholarly publishing, Columbia University Press seeks to enhance
- Ellen Adler, publisher, The New Press
- Richard Bulliet, professor of history, Columbia University
- John Coatsworth, provost, Columbia University
- Nicholas Dirks, vice president for arts and sciences and Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History, Columbia University
- Ted Nardin, chief executive officer, Springer Publishing
- James Neal, vice president of information services and university librarian, Columbia University
- Frederick Neuhouser, professor of philosophy and Viola Manderfeld Professor of German, Barnard College, and chairman of the Columbia University Press Publications Committee
- Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large, Public Affairs Books
- Anne Sullivan, executive vice president of finance, Columbia University
Directors of Columbia University Press
- Seth Low, 1893–1901
- Nicholas Murray Butler, 1902–1907
- William H. Carpenter, 1907–1925
- Fredrick Coykendall, 1925–1946
- Charles G. Proffitt, 1946–1969
- Robert G. Barnes, 1969–1980
- John D. Moore, 1980–1997
- William B. Strachan, 1997–2003
- James D. Jordan, 2004–2013
Columbia University Press is located at 61 West Sixty-second Street, New York, NY 10023.