Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I tell if a Book is available?

What does "Available on our shelves" mean?

It means we believe we have the book on the shelf and can usually ship it in 1 or 2 days, barring holidays. Since the epidemic, we've fulfilled almost all our orders through a third party distributor, rather from our own stock. We're in the proces of changing to tap books from our warehouse shelves.

What does "Ships in 1-8 days" mean?

This indicates orders that ship from a distributor's warehouse rather than our own warehouse stock.

What does "Email or call for price" mean?

As it says in the small print, you're looking at a book we don't have and almost certainly can't order.

The ”Email or call for price: wording is machine generated, isn't ours, and we're unable to reword it.

What does "Special Order" mean?

This means we know something about the book, but we probably can't get it currently.

Titles flagged with this language can indicate books caught between print runs.

How do I order?

You list a book. How do I get it shipped to me?

Set up a website account, if you haven't already, and select either credit card or PayPal as the means of payment.

We’ll ask you to supply a shipping destination, whether you’d like the book shipped with a gift receipt instead of our regular invoice, and there’s a box to leave a comment, in case you’d like to do that.

The “Next” and “Review order” buttons sometimes confuse customers. Once you’ve finished filling out the form click “Review Order.” On some browsers at some zooms, you might need to scroll down to find it.

If you click “Next” after going through the form, it takes to back to the beginning. Great if you wanted to correct something, not so cool if you’d rather finish placing the order.

Can you ship me a used book?

Right now you can do that from our listings on Alibris and Biblio. Once we sort our affairs out a little more, we’ll start listing used books here on universitypressbooks.com as well.

Can I have a book shipped to someone other than myself?

Usually. Be aware that we scrutinize such orders with a wary eye because this is a warning flag for credit card fraud. We ship orders for multiple copies of expensive textbooks only to customers with a substantial track record with us.

How do I return a book?

If you purchased a book through this on-line store, ship it back to us. Once we process the return, usually in a couple days after receiving it back, we'll email you a check that covers the sale price of the book.

If a different problem occurred with your order, contact us. We'll do what we can to straighten it out.

How do I resolve problems with my order?

I placed an order but I haven't heard anything back from you. Not even an acknowledgement. Should I worry?

Get in touch through our contact form. Your order probably didn't go all the way through.

A successful order receives an automated email response soon after you've submitted your it. If you've been waiting for more than an hour, this probably means something has gone wrong.

It's been three and a half weeks (or longer) and my book still hasn't come! What gives?

You should either receive the book by then or heard from us about some other estimated time of arrival within 25 days of placing an order. There are three major exceptions:

We do offer pre-orders on certain books announced but not yet published. These ship on or rather close to their publication date and you should receive them within 21 days of shipping.Very occasionally, a publisher will push a pub date back after initially announcing it. Most of the tine this merely delays shipment. Once in a great while, it can forces us to cancel the order, usually when they don't specify the new pub date or raise their cost to us above the pre-order price.

Sometimes the distributor and/or publisher runs out of stock themselves and the publisher has to schedule a fresh print run.

When we don't have a book in our own warehouse, we'll tap the stock of a distributor. Since most of its warehouses are located across the continental divide, weather sometimes bogs delivery down.

Contact us whenever an order hasn't arrived within 25 days and you haven't heard from us. Most orders arrive before then.

We'll be happy to look into your order.

Who are you?

What is University Press Books?

We were a brick and motar store that operated in Berkeley, California, at the south side of the Cal Berekeley campus, between 1974 and 2020. Since then, after a month's hiatus, we've operated on-line and at in December of 2021, we opened a wall inside the Musical Offering Cafe and Music Shop. Beside this web store we also list with Alibris and Biblio and have a page on Bookshop.

We specialize in showcasing titles published by presses run or established by universities. We also sell books for inquisitive, discerning readers published by commercial presses, large and small, including poetry.

Are you the University of California Press?

No. While we handle a number of their titles, we're actually different entities.

We don't publish books. We're a privately owned business, even though we sell books to the university community and host readings by faculty, student groups, and others associated with the university.

If you're looking for the University of California Press, visit them at ucpress.edu.

How does a university press differ from a trade press?

Everyone who reads at all is familiar with trade presses, the Doubledays, Knophs, Penguins, Random Houses, Scribner'ses, Simon & Shusters, Hachettes, Vintages, a whole host of commercial imprints that publish fiction and non-fiction aimed at a general audience.

University presses are owned by colleges and universities (or at least started out that way).

While they mostly publish titles aimed at readers already knowledgeable about their topics, they also release titles aimed at general readers, such as UC Press's nature guides, Oxford's Very Short Introduction series, and a wide assortment of subjects, ranging from Egyptian history, labor movements, Picasso, to anthropogenic global warming. Ususally written by academics, sure, but a fair number are intelligible to a curious lay public.

What is IndieBound/IndieCommerce?

UPB belongs to a trade group, the American Booksellers Association, who runs IndieCommerce, a service that hosts this very website and those of a good number of other snakk business bookstores.

IndieBound connects book lovers to such independent book stores near where they live, study, or work.

 

Go to indiebound.org to learn about other independent bookstores, find out what's going on in book culture, and discover why shopping with dominant on-line retailers might not be in your long-term interest.

What is Bookshop?

Bookshop is an on-line platform that partners with independent bookstores to snatch market share from monopolistic on-line retailers.

Bookshop shares a portion of what you purchase from their site with us and other independent bookstores.

Our Bookshop page also enables us to draw attention to books worth your reading just as our own catalog pages do.

What Have You Been Doing Since You Shut Your Old Storefront?

Why did you close your original store?

At first we observed the public health order that shut down all but essential retail. Our revenues were way out of balance with expenses, though, and we knew all along we would have to down-size and orient the business along different lines.

The epidemic pushed us to make that decision we didn't want to make but needed to carry out.

What has happened since the close?

We reopened our web store after several weeks. At the same time we also affiliated ourselves with Bookshop.org, which could become our main web presence if we become unable to continue covering the costs of a full tilt web store.

As we were sorting out what we were going to do next and how, our founder, William McClung, received a cancer diagnosis and passed away that July.

Since then, we returned thousands of unsold books to publishers and distributors. This financed the move of the rest of our stock to a warehouse. We purchased shelving with the book return money, stumbling upon a pretty good deal. That money also paid staff to sort, shelve, and inventory thousands of the books we brought to the warehouse.

This made it possible to list books on the on-line platforms Alibris and Biblio.

We look towards again listing our books in new condition on this web site, eventually adding many used books, something new for us.

In late December of 2021, we started selling low-priced books in the Musical Offering.

What are your needs?

As of this writing, mid-March of 2022, we need to cover warehouse rent, payroll expenses, and web site fees. We occasionally run into less frequent expenses.

Our largest expenses revolve around storing and preparing for sale the books left over from the old storefront.

We made the money recovered from book returns last almost two years.

We still have several thousand books to bring into inventory, many of them remainders from the University of California Press.

This site, universitypressbooks.com, needs steady attention for it to become a better shopping experience. We have the skills to do this in-house, but it still means payroll expenses.

Storing books while we offer them to the reading public means rent. We've recently opened or reopened several sales channels, but word is just now getting out that we're still in business. Sales haven't yet caught up with our (greatly streamlined) operational costs.

We want to see your store survive. How can I contribute?

Find our donate button on this page

Will you reopen your former storefront location?

Although we wouldn't say, "never," it does look terribly unlikely. It's no longer 1974 when the community supported that large a display floor. Pre-pandemic sales just don't justify us forever operating at a huge loss each month.

.Will UPB open a modest venue elsewhere, instead of sharing space with the Musical Offering? We don't rule this out, if popular demand can sustain it. For time being, it's not our focus. But if you want this, shop us.

What has happened with your staff?

Store Manager Sorayya retired after decades of service. She gives more attention to zooanthropology, though if you pop into Paynes Stationary on particular days, you find find her at the counter.

Store Manager Christina, who had hired and promoted Sorayya, has all but retired, savouring life, yet still lending a hand a few hours a month to administrative matters.

Long-time bookseller, Jay, now devotes himself exclusively to authoring his own scholarship.

Tylor eventually moved over to the Musical Offering.

Other staff retired from UPB or were let go, except for Al, Web Store Manager/Assistant Store Manager who was the only UPB employee working substantial hours for almost a year and a half, until we brought Steve out of retirement to again handle our orders from Alibris and Biblio.

We've also added to staff Thomas, our bookkeeper and carpenter, who does other work for us as needed; he primarily works for the Musical Offering.

But even Al has been working about half the hours he did before we closed the storefront, so we're running a pretty tight payroll.

Ken, UPB's surviving General Partner puts in the most time and shoulders most of the worry.

When Is Your In-person Retail Space Open?

Our store front is now contained within the Musical Offering Cafe and Music Shop. During the work week you can visit our display wall between 10AM to 4PM. On the weekends, that's 11AM to 4PM.

The Musical Offering closes for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It sometimes closes for other hilidays and Cal intersessions when lack of business warrants. If in doubt call 510.849.0211.

How Do I Contact You?

I have a question left unanswered here. How do I get in touch with you?

At the bottom of most pages youll find a text link that says, "Email us." Click that and you can communicate with us using the supplied form.

You can use the same form even if you don't have a question. Share some feedback, or just tell us how you appreciate us.

Front facade of University Press Books

From 1974, University Press Books has stoked the blaze of well over ten thousand minds on fire, carrying new scholarship published by the great university presses in the English-speaking world.

For more than 45 years, UPB operated out of the west half of 2430 Bancroft Way in Berkeley. We presently operate on line and stock a sales wall within the Musical Offering, same street address, east half.

Order from us. Shop us. Let well-wrought words churn and burn within.