Unisa Press is part of the University of South Africa’s Research Department, which consists of three directorates:
Our offices are situated on the main Muckleneuk campus in Pretoria, South Africa, while we also have a bookshop for direct sales in Unisa’s new Registration Hall, in Sunnyside, Pretoria. This is one of the largest academic publishers of books as well as journals on the continent Africa, with a staff component of less than fourty people.
Unisa Press publishes some 30 new academic and scholarly titles each year, screened and peer-reviewed through Unisa’s Senate Publications Committee.
Unisa Press is the largest university press in South Africa, with the biggest publication list. The Press supports the Research and Innovation Strategy for Unisa through playing a role in effectively promoting accessibility to, and dissemination and development of knowledge and research outputs, as well as playing a role in supporting lifelong learning.
Unisa Press functions within Unisa following a classic university press model, with the university's Senate Publications Committee overseeing the acceptance of publications and the quality of peer review processes. This model requires a delicate balancing act between promoting academic merit and the commercial aims of self-sustainability or cost recovery.
Unisa Press publishes independent scholarly and academic books as well as expanding into the broader specialist books arena. During 2012, the Press published a total of 23 books. Unisa Press is also the publisher of a substantial list of accredited academic journals. The 2012 publishing list consisted of 39 accredited journals, with a total of 130 issues. Additionally, five non-accredited journals is published and being developed for accreditation.
It is the only African press with such an extensive and vigorous combined list of books as well as journals. The Press is seeing success after success in terms of increasing prestige (by means of producing products of high quality and by ensuring increased visibility, improved marketing, distribution and sales) as well as income. It publishes within diverse subject fields from art history, architecture, psychology, to sociology and African studies.
Unisa Press celebrates its location and situation as an African university press by publishing a rich and varied range of research works that reflect the historical, cultural and intellectual heritage of the continent. In line with the university's Research and Innovation Strategy, particular focus is paid to obtaining quality publications with a focus on
Unisa Press currently has the largest journals publishing programme in South Africa, which provides a unique platform for African researchers, and at the same time makes African scholarship visible around the world. The journals section has been expanded, and successful partnerships with Taylor & Francis and Nisc have been maintained and further developed.
Inspired by the university’s vision, “Towards the African university in the service of humanity”, the staff members of Unisa Press aspire to deliver high-quality products and services in an efficient, effective and professional manner.
The quality of content of all publications is on an international standard, and the processes of producing these publications have improved tremendously and continue to do so. A new marketing strategy was developed and this was actively implemented, improved and maintained in 2011-2012, resulting in higher sales, improved global visibility and cost savings.
The improvements effected in our products, turnaround times and marketing and distribution have lead to a visible and in some respects dramatic increase in prestige and interest from authors, academic editors and co-publication and distribution partners.
Highly prestigious works are being commissioned by the Press, and in 2012, Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island, by Ashwin Desai, was launched by the Deputy President of South Africa at the Unisa 2012 Academic Opening. The book was later relaunched at several high-profile events nationally (including an event on Robben Island).
In 2012, Unisa Press books became, for the first time, available at all major retailers in the South African Development Community, by means of a distribution agreement with an external distribution agent. This initiative lead to a substantial increase in visibility within the broader reading market. Directly linked to this is the nomination of four 2012 Unisa Press titles for the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton Awards.
The Press have international book distribution contracts with ISBS (United States and Canada) and Eurospan (Europe) to ensure international visibility of all books.
Unisa Press negotiated a beneficial journals subscription and distribution deal with Taylor & Francis and NISC for sub-Saharan distribution and subscription management (effected in 2011). The use of a professional distribution agency is not only enhancing the reputation of the journals and the prestige of the Press, it is leading to increased sub-Saharan subscriptions and provides the Press with reliable information on subscription figures and income earned.
During 2012, the Press was represented at a number of institutional and other significant events in the publishing industry, including the STM-PASA Seminar "Academic and Professional Publishing and South Africa", the International Publishers’ Association conference, the Cape Town Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Unisa Press is an active member of the Publishing Association of South Africa and the National Scholarly Book Publishers Forum.
Unisa Press is constantly on the lookout for beneficial co-publication opportunities that will improve prestige, visibility and cost-effectiveness. Successful co-publication opportunities grasped in 2012 include the continuation of the prestigious Road to Democracy series with SADET, the publication of 80:20: Development in an unequal world with Irish NGO 80:20 – Educating and Acting for a Better World. Agreements were made with a host of other partners, including Athabasca University Press.
The Unisa Press co-publishing programme with Taylor & Francis continues to raise the profile and reach of the journals concerned, and return substantial government funding grants to the university.
Roughly 69% of articles by Unisa-affiliated authors in Taylor & Francis (T&F) journals are published in the T&F-Unisa SAPSE-accredited publishing programme. In total, Unisa authors across both co-published and other accredited T&F journals have published an estimated 393 articles for the period 2007 to date.
Online usage continues to increase year on year, in line with international online trends. This bears testimony to the growing interest the co-published titles continue to generate, the quality of the joint programme, and the positive effects of online discoverability and marketing.
Nine co-published titles are currently listed on ISI/Thomson Reuters’ Indexes. Key factors are timeliness, consistent quality, a varied and respected author base, rigorous peer review, and a distinctive contribution to the literature.