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Updated 5:30 PM February 1, 2008




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University Press establishes guidelines for distribution

The executive board of the University of Michigan Press (UMP) has developed a new policy to help guide decisions about distribution of publications from external sources.

The Jan. 18 adoption of the guidelines came about following a controversy over the UMP contract with Pluto Press for distribution of the book "Overcoming Zionism," which critics charged is anti-Israel.

The new policy says UMP "may consider entering into distribution and/or marketing arrangements with other scholarly publishers whose mission is aligned with the mission of U-M Press, and who academic standards and processes of peer review are reasonably similar to those of the U-M Press."

Peggy McCracken, chair of the executive board, says the arrangement with Pluto Press most likely will not meet the criteria in the new policy, but a decision on distribution will have to wait for a review of Pluto's mission, academic standards and peer review processes, to be conducted by the UMP executive board. The current renewable six-month contract with Pluto ends May 31.

UMP stopped distribution of the book temporarily last September in response to a variety of concerns about its content from people inside and outside the University community to give the executive board time to consider them. In October the board decided to resume distribution of the book. A statement at that time from the board said: "While the executive board has deep reservations about 'Overcoming Zionism,' it would be a blow against free speech to remove the book from distribution on that basis."

During the fall announcement, the board said it would continue to deliberate the matter, including establishing guidelines for distribution agreements that not only would address the Pluto Press contract but others as well. At present, the press distributes works from five outside publishers.

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