Position Description
Press Brookings Institution Press
Director, Brookings Institution Press


Washington, DC

Position Summary:

The Director provides leadership for the Brookings Institution Press, the scholarly publishing arm of the Institution, and manages all aspects of the operations of the Press, including planning, editorial, acquisitions, production, marketing, sales and distribution, and financial management. The Press publishes approximately 40 new books a year in current affairs, economics, government, foreign policy, development and urban affairs; and distributes books published by a dozen other like-minded publishers. In addition, the Press publishes three journals. The Director is expected to be an innovative leader in scholarly communication, to lead the acquisition of timely and relevant titles that contribute to the public debate, to establish and maintain the Press’s high editorial and production standards, to aggressively lead the marketing and promotion of the Press’s publications domestically and internationally, to oversee the further development of the Press’s digital publishing program, to ensure the Press’s financial stability, and to work with the Institution’s leadership to further the key role that the Press plays in producing and disseminating the highest quality independent research and achieve impact among appropriate audiences. The Director of the Press will manage an 11-person team and reports to the Vice President for Communications. The position is based in Brookings Washington, DC headquarters.

% of Time / Principal Duties and Responsibilities:

65% / Directing Operations

  • Oversee the book publishing program, including
    • The publication of works written by Brookings scholars, as well as the acquisition of manuscripts by authors not on the Brookings staff, identifying appropriate, academically sound and financially viable projects.
    • The editorial and production functions, in print and digital form, to ensure high editorial quality and timely production of works.
    • The establishment of Press policies (e.g., peer review, pricing, business model), consistent with institutional requirements
  • Oversee the journal program, including
    • Managing relations with societies
    • Periodically examining the business model and updating it as necessary;
    • Maximizing dissemination and revenues from both the print and electronic editions.
  • Oversee the marketing and publicity efforts of the Press, ensuring significant media coverage of the Press’s books and authors and a good return on investment on marketing campaigns.
  • Oversee the sales efforts of the Press, including direct-to- consumer sales as well as through conventional wholesale and retail outlets, online vendors, and a variety of e-book and e-journal distributors and aggregators; oversee the Press’s array of sales arrangements, nationally and internationally.
  • Negotiate and oversee contracts with warehousing and distribution vendors, both domestic (currently Ingram / Perseus for books and Sheridan Press for journals) and international (e.g., Eurospan in the UK).
  • Oversee the subsidiary rights activities of the Press, including contracts for translation rights, and represent Brookings Institution Press at appropriate international book fairs such as the annual Frankfurt Book Fair.
  • Oversee the operations of the Brookings Bookstore, including the sale of books by the Brookings Press and other publishers and institutional logo items.
  • Establish new and nurture existing co-publishing relationships with academic institutions and other research organizations.
  • Assesses periodically the third party press distribution business to ensure its financial sustainability; selects appropriate client presses for distribution by the Press, negotiate contracts, and oversee the relations with these presses.
  • Remain an actively engaged member of the Brookings community; nurtures and maintain relations with scholars and peers within the Institution.
  • Actively represent and promote the interests of the Press within the scholarly community, and the publishing industry.

35% / Planning, Budgeting, Financial Management

  • Develop and implement strategic, long-range, and near-term plans for the Press, working with other departments and programs of the Institution as appropriate, ensuring that the Press is playing its role in the overall plans of the Institution.
  • Supervise the annual budgeting process for the Press, actively monitor financial results against budget, and make revisions as needed.
  • Identify funding opportunities and secures adequate funding for academic books.
  • Recruit and direct Press staff, ensuring proper training and good communications within the Press, and between Press staff and the rest of the Institution.
  • Serve as a source of information about copyright questions within the Press and, as needed, for others in the Institution.
  • Review and sign off on all Press contracts, invoices, royalty and client press payments, and other financial matters.


Committee or Major External Contacts:

Principal Committee/Contacts
Role or Responsibilities

Maintain productive working relationships; acquire manuscripts; negotiate contracts

Publishing Industry Colleagues
Exchange information on best practices, etc.

Vendors/Sales Representatives
Negotiate contracts; market and promote Brookings publications


Education/Experience Requirements:

Bachelor’s degree required. A minimum of 15 years experience in book publishing or related field, with at least 10 years in a leadership role. Experience in fundraising in a publishing setting strongly preferred.


Knowledge/Skills Requirements:

Knowledge of the publishing landscape, including trends in book and journal publishing and digital publishing; ability to tap into a Rolodex of successful authors; excellent negotiation skills; knowledge of and ability to identify funding opportunities for scholarly publishers; ; openness to exploring new models for publishing, disseminating, and promoting scholarly work, including open access; effective communication and interpersonal skills; ability to manage and motivate a team of publishing professionals and to establish and maintain productive working relationships with other departments of the Institution, scholars, authors, reviewers, librarians, vendors, and publishing industry colleagues.

Please note: The Brookings Institution has exclusively engaged Jack Farrell & Associates to find the winning candidate for this position. Interested candidates should provide a resume and cover letter by email to Amy Morse (amy@jackfarrell.com). Thank you. 

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