What’s in a Name?

Image taken from The Bibliographical Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin

Westphalia Press takes its name from the kingdom of the same name which has long been incorporated into Germany, but was one of the first European principalities to affirm constitutional rights of its subjects and which had a robust printing and publishing tradition over the centuries. The name Westphalia is associated with a long line of  printers. John de Westphalia is believed to have begun work in 1474. As a typographer, he was well-known for putting together remarkable volumes and was highlighted in Lambinet’s Origine de l’Imprimerie. Conrad de Westphalia was also a printer, but little else remains of his work or accomplishments in the centuries that have passed. We encounter a reminder of its history in the gourmet Westphalia hams and some wine vintages from the vineyards of German settlers in the American Midwest.

Perhaps more importantly, the press carries on a tradition of the Policy Studies Organization of producing books on a wide variety of subjects. For many years this was done in cooperation with major publishing houses, but the prices they assigned to titles made it impractical for our authors and readers to acquire books that they wanted. Since our purposes as a society include dissemination, we felt that to do an adequate job we needed to regularize our book programs through Westphalia Press.

This has enabled us to guarantee that the books will never go out of print, that they will be available in e-book versions, and that quality new copies in terms of binding and paper will be readily available at low cost. Simple as that sounds, in actual fact the prices of books often prevent scholars and students from having them. There is something wrong with that, and we hope we make a contribution to solving the problem.

So the white horse that emblazoned the banners of a now vanished world is getting a second life as the symbol of the world of letters. Moreover, Westphalia was the site of the famous meeting that produced the treaty that was in a sense the beginning of the modern community of nations, no small accomplishment for successors to its traditions to keep in mind.