Home Book publication Kentucky University Press: Q&A with Ashley Runyon

Kentucky University Press: Q&A with Ashley Runyon


LEXINGTON, Kentucky (October 6, 2022) — You may have a book published by University Press of Kentucky on your shelf or on your Kindle. But what exactly is a university press? And why are they important?

The University Press of Kentucky is the scientific publisher of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since 1969, the press has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky’s state universities, seven of its private colleges, and two historical societies.

UKNow spoke to Ashley Runyon, Director of University Press of Kentucky, to find out more about their mission, purpose and all they offer to everyone in the Commonwealth and beyond.

UKNow: What is a university press, and why is it important?

Meeting: A university press is a non-profit scientific publisher. University presses typically publish titles that the big business houses don’t because we’re not driven by profit, but by excellence.

The University Press of Kentucky was established in 1943 to serve Kentucky and the Appalachian region and publishes approximately 55 books a year. The University Press of Kentucky has a dual mission – the publication of scholarly works of high scientific value in various fields and the publication of important works on the history and culture of Kentucky, the valley region of Ohio, Upper South and Appalachia.

You know: What genres or areas do you currently publish?

Meeting: Although we publish extensively in Kentucky and Appalachian Studies, most people are surprised to learn that we have award-winning listings in Film Studies, Military History, Poetry, Public Health, and Civil Rights. Not to mention our incredible books on three of Kentucky’s favorite pastimes: basketball, bourbon and horses!

UKNow: The press is technically located on the UK campus, but doesn’t it serve the whole of the Commonwealth?

Meeting: While the University Press of Kentucky is housed at the University of Kentucky, the press serves all of Kentucky’s state-sponsored institutions of higher education as well as seven private colleges and Kentucky’s two major historical societies.

UKNow: Tell me a bit about your NAACP Image Award and your American Book Award. What is the significance of the two and what does this mean about the impactful work the press does?

Meeting: Over the past year, University Press of Kentucky has won many prestigious awards. Two that stand out are the NAACP Image Award for “Perfect Black” by Crystal Wilkinson and the American Book Award for “{#289-128}” by Randall Horton. These awards are exceptional accolades and a testament to the great work that the press and authors publish nationwide.

UKNow: What can you offer UK students that they may not be able to find elsewhere?

Meeting: The University Press of Kentucky is the largest publisher in the state and has a strong internship program. The Press provides students with hands-on training in publishing, marketing, and book production at a respected national press in their own city – not New York or any other major city.

UKNow: You’ve been director for about two years now. What are your goals for the press?

Meeting: The University Press of Kentucky has a heritage and culture of excellence, both in the books we publish and in the way we give back to the Commonwealth. Despite decades of success, many Kentucky residents are unfamiliar with the press. I want to change that and make the press a household name in the Bluegrass State by celebrating the Kentucky voices that aren’t always heard.

UKNow: What do you want people to know about the press?

Meeting: In addition to publishing award-winning titles, the press also gives back to the Kentucky community. More than 1,300 titles are available free at schools and public libraries in Kentucky.

UKNow: How can people stay in touch with your sales, events and news?

Meeting: Follow us on social media @kentuckypress or our website at www.kentuckypress.com. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter at http://kentuckypress.com/newsletter.