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The ordinary person, it is said, is judged not so much by what he is as by what he does. This maxim applies also to the University Press, for it is to be judged more by what it publishes than by any strict adherence to the high purpose of its founders. It was established, more or less, for the publication of books of a scholastic nature which would not ordinarily find a publisher--or maybe a market. If it had clung closely to this stipulation it might have soon found itself in the need of a patron such as are sought for operas or for "art for art's sake". But to forestall such a prospect, however remote, the Alumni Bulletin has furnished a very good recommendation which deserves more attention. It is, let the Press be its own patron.
It advocates what amounts to a liberalization of the Press and of its aims. This liberalization would come through the welcoming of a more popular output, and a close monopoly of "home talent" to be gained by making overtures to prospective authors in the University before the outside presses have had opportunity to canvass. It would thus get the contract for books of a more or less popular appeal before they could be taken up outside. This would not only be remunerative and act as a sort of patronage for less favored books, but would give the Press a wider publicity abroad.
The much flaunted charge of indifference might almost be charge against the Press at the present time, since it continues to limit its field of publication, and allows outside encroachments. Not every man is interested in such a scholarly work as "The Achievement of Greece," but such works, should they need support, ought to have a patron even at the expense of hob-nobbing with less aristocratic press-mates. There is no need on the other hand of encouraging incipient novelists or poets, but, as has been suggested by the Bulletin, more books of the type of President Lowell's "Public Opinion in War and Peace", which are finding presses elsewhere, might be profitably printed.
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