My Time At CUP: John Hussey on An Education in Excellence

I really love working with Columbia’s staff and hope that I am somehow “giving back” in honor of the education they gave to me years ago.

John Hussey



IT WAS THE SPRING OF 2007: Border’s Group, Inc. had just announced it would be creating an online store that would open in 2008, Amazon had yet to release the Kindle, and university presses generally relied on large academic library approval numbers for a huge chunk of their revenue. It wasn’t exactly the “golden era” in academic publishing, but it turned out to be a wonderful time for me to break into sales.

I had just begun a position as the Sales Manager for the University Press of Kentucky after a brief career in acquisitions. After a few weeks on the job, I started asking myself many existential questions such as “why didn’t I take classes in excel instead of studying fin-de-siècle American Literature?” or “What is Vendor Central and why do I care?” or the ever elusive “What is ONIX?”

In short, I was new to the ways of sales and what it meant to be a sales manager. During my initial onboarding, I received encouragement from my then manager Leila Salisbury, now Director at the University Press of Kentucky, to apply for an American Association of University Presses (AUP) Whiting Week-in-Residence grant. To my delight, I was awarded a grant to work side-by-side with Brad Hebel, Director of Operations and Sales, at Columbia University Press.

It’s now a decade later, and I still remember the hospitable and generous nature of Brad and the rest of the Columbia University Press staff. While it was a short week, I was able to experience an excellent publishing organization and learn invaluable lessons. As a junior staffer from a small university press, it was eye opening and life-altering.

When I returned to Kentucky, I remember writing an extensive report that offered many suggestions that were implemented at the Press. “I’m not embarrassed to say that we should think of Columbia as a fantastic model for us to follow and as an ultimate end goal,” I wrote. “Columbia exceeded any expectations I had about productivity and inter-office relationships.” I tried to take everything I learned at CUP and pass it onto to my colleagues and business.

I have the honor and privilege of working with Columbia University Press every day in my current role with Ingram Academic Services. My objective is to provide publishing solutions that help books from presses like Columbia University Press reach their end destination more efficiently. I really love working with Columbia’s staff and hope that I am somehow “giving back” in honor of the education they gave to me years ago.

Let me leave with this anecdote that truly shows the caliber of the people behind the press.

When it was announced I would be leaving Kentucky for Princeton University Press for a job as National Accounts Manager, I received a short note from Columbia’s Senior Editor Philip Leventhal. Philip wrote that he didn’t know if I would remember him but that he was excited to see the announcement and enjoyed meeting me during my week-in-residence years earlier. Ultimately, the message was emblematic of the cooperation and spirit of the university press community: this is a group of publishers who will overcome any challenge, help each other, and continue in their mission of disseminating scholarship globally. So, yes, I remember you Philip; I could never forget anyone I met while at Columbia. And I’ll do whatever I can to help you.

John Hussey is a senior key accounts sales manager at Ingram Content Group, a leading international full-service content distributor for the book industry. John works with publishers to help their content reach readers in a timely and relevant matter. Before joining Ingram Content Group, John spent ten years in academic publishing, most recently as the manager of national accounts at Princeton University Press.

2 Responses

  1. John, I love this. Similarly, my week-in-residence at the U of California press was life-altering. Sheila Levine hosted me and she and her colleagues–many of whom are still there–could not have been more hospitable. I learned SO MUCH, and Sheila was kind enough to say they also learned from me. We are so fortunate to benefit from AUP programming like this. Thanks for writing.

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