Aarhus University Seal

Aarhus University Press enters the stage for global textbooks

Aarhus University Press publishes a revised translation of 'Camp Century – The Untold Story of America's Secret Arctic Military Base Under the Greenland Ice' with the American publisher Columbia University Press. Publishing agreements like this give an international boost to Danish researchers' knowledge.

In spring 2021, the English-speaking audience will be able to read the book published in 2017 by AU associate professors and science historians Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen and Henry Nielsen on the US base, Camp Century, which was built under the Greenland ice sheet during the Cold War. Publication of the English version is in collaboration with Columbia University Press, and it is the result of extensive work to establish relations with the American university publishing market. The director of Aarhus University Press, Carsten Fenger-Grøndal, says:

"Being published by Columbia University Press is great academic recognition. You have to get through the eye of a needle to get there. So I'm very pleased," says Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl.

Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, one of the two authors of Camp CenturyThe Untold Story of America's Secret Arctic Military Base Under the Greenland Ice, agrees:

"Being able to reach further into the right academic circles and be referred to and cited in the right places is hugely important for my research. And it's a strong professional pat on the back to be published by a highly estimated publishing house," says Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen.  

A pitch between courses

It took Aarhus University Press two years to work their way into the American publishing house, which is considered one of the most prestigious on the international textbook stage. A decisive step was when Aarhus University Press joined the Association of University Presses, an international association of the university publishing houses. There were also two visits to the US, when Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl and the publisher's editor and person responsible for the international initiative, Karina Bell Ottesen, negotiated options for collaboration with Columbia University Press. During a dinner at a Mexican restaurant around the corner from the publisher’s offices in Manhattan, New York, Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl managed to get the attention of the director of Columbia University Press.

"I had the manuscript in my bag and I simply asked Jennifer Crewe whether I could convince her between courses," says Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl about the few informal minutes that sealed the deal between the two publishers.

Trump's offer increases interest

Camp Century - The Untold Story of America's Secret Arctic Military Base Under the Greenland Ice is about when the American military built a base disguised as a research station deep inside the Greenland ice sheet. The narrative tells the story of Camp Century from the post-war period to today, and the recent interest from the US – or more precisely President Trump – in Greenland has probably benefitted Aarhus University Press immensely," says Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl.

“US involvement in the Arctic zone makes the story relevant for the American audience, and Trump’s intervention with a bid to buy Greenland has probably done no harm either,” he says.

Into Aarhus, out in New York

The book has been through American peer review before landing on American bookshelves, and this appears on the cover of the book that has been published by both Aarhus University Press and Columbia University Press. Both publishing houses give the book a seal of approval according to Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl. However, he does not expect the joint publication to be a financial windfall for the Aarhus publishing house.

"Publishing specialist literature is in no way big business; neither for us, nor for Columbia University Press. Our goal is to disseminate Danish research knowledge to a larger audience, so even though we won’t get rich in financial terms, perhaps we will in terms of reviews and relationships. So I'm proud that a researcher can walk in through our door in Finlandsgade in Aarhus and publish out in New York City," says Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl.

The publication of Camp Century is the first in a series of publications with other publishing houses, and Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl believes that the next will be easier.

"We’ve now activated the network, reaped useful experience and gained impetus. This’ll be of great benefit in the future."

Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen has already seen international interest and so far he has been contacted by National Geographic and Al Jazeera, as well as a German documentary production company. 


Director Carsten Fenger-Grøndahl
M: + 45 29 86 27 60
Email: cfg@unipress.au.dk

Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, associate professor and author
Centre for Science Studies
M: +45 24 45 88 12
Email: khn@css.au.dk