LJ Talks with Holly La Due, Editorial Director at Princeton Architectural Press

Holly La Due, Princeton Architectural Press's editorial director, talks with LJ about the publisher’s reputation for identifying trends, visual culture, and broadening its scope of titles.

Founded more than 40 years ago, Princeton Architectural (PA) Press, a division of Chronicle Books, is located in New York City. Holly La Due, its editorial director, talked with LJ about the publisher’s reputation for identifying trends and broadening its scope of titles about architecture, design, and visual culture. 

What do you view as the reference latest trends, and which ones do you consider a constant for libraries?

PA Press has been around since 1981…[and] quality is always going to be a constant. One of our best-selling books of all time continues to be Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type, a bible of sorts for design students—we are about to come out with the third edition in spring 2024.

Today’s patrons have different expectations about reference books. What is your press doing to fulfill changing definitions about what reference is and what it must deliver?

Reference books should be grabbing readers: What can educate? Inspire? Change someone’s viewpoint? Every person, every student, should be able to find books in which they see themselves and that reflect their aspirations, their passions, their identities. PA Press has made a commitment to publish books for the design community by and for BIPOC and women designers/artists/architects. Our books include Extra Bold: A Feminist Inclusive Anti-Racist Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Designers; Black, Brown + LatinX Design Educators; Trailblazing Women Printmakers (forthcoming); The Women Who Changed Architecture; and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits.

What draws you to the reference space, and what innovative strategies are you employing in your works (or one specific title) to ensure that patrons are getting the information they need and want?

Publishing books that straddle commercial and academic has worked well for us. Asian American Herbalism: Traditional and Modern Healing Practices for Everyday Wellness is a perfect example of a commercially minded reference book: It is packed with information from an herbalist and acupuncturist and is beautifully designed, photographed, and illustrated.

In addition to quality of content, we are known for our books’ design, editorial vision, vibrant imagery and packaging, and in the end, that helps bring people back to a book again and again. Reference books should be books you can treasure. At the end of the day, if a reference book is an educational tool, then the ideas themselves and how those ideas are presented will continue to enrich and redefine the reference space.

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