The Brookings Institution Press is the book- and journal-publishing arm of the Brookings Institution, a private nonprofit organization devoted to research, education, and publication on important issues of U.S. domestic and foreign policy. It is the Press’s goal to publish books that result from the Institution’s own research and books of a similar nature written by outside authors.
The BI Press strives to help further the Brookings mission by bringing the highest quality independent research and analysis to bear on current and emerging policy problems and to offer practical approaches to those problems in language aimed at the general public.
Publishing has been a fundamental part of the Brookings Institution since its beginnings in 1916. The first books, released in 1918, were predominately focused on the study of the operations and agencies of government. Some of these early titles include The Problem of a National Budget, written by then director, William F. Willoughby, and Principles Governing the Retirement of Public Employees, written by prominent political scientist Lewis Merriam.
As the Institution grew and expanded to envelop more research disciplines, first Governance and Economic Studies and then the establishment of the Foreign Policy Studies program in the 1940s, Brookings continued to publish books and research written by Brookings scholars—works considered imperative additions to higher education classrooms as well as policymakers’ offices.
Traditionally handled within the President’s office, the Publications Program was officially established in 1957, and Herbert C. Morton, an economist from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, was named the program director. Under his leadership, the Brookings Institution Publications Program was admitted as a full member of the Association of American University Presses in 1958. Roland Hoover, Morton’s second in command, took over the role of publications director in 1970. In 1984, Robert L. Faherty, who most recently had headed the publishing department at the Congressional Budget Office, was appointed director. Under his direction, the Press soon began acquiring manuscripts written by outside authors. Like the books written by Brookings experts, these titles were subject to the Institution’s stringent peer review process and represented the most recent research in public policy.
The division remained the Publications Program until 1995, when it was officially renamed the Brookings Institution Press. Robert Faherty continues to manage the operation as vice-president and director, managing a staff of more than 15 and publishing approximately 45-55 books per year.
Over the last few decades, one title has continuously topped the sales charts. The best selling Brookings book in print is Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade Off, by Arthur M. Okun. Published in 1975, the book, which has greatly influenced economic thinking, has sold upwards of 200,000 copies and continues to sell thousands of copies a year, many as supplementary reading texts for university courses.
Books are not the only works published by the Brookings Institution Press. The journals leg of the operation came into being with the establishment of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity in 1970. It has been and continues to be acknowledged as one of the top journals in the economics profession and a major component of the Press’s output.
The Press has been moving aggressively into electronic publishing as the industry undergoes a widespread digital transformation. All new titles are published in a variety of formats, and the Press is congruently working vigorously to create electronic editions of its extensive backlist titles. With an eye on the global marketplace and the goal of widening the reach of its important and timely works, the Press has strategically focused great effort on marketing and distributing its books both domestically and internationally, and in licensing translation rights to foreign publishers. The Press also provides sales and distribution services to some 20 other research organizations scattered around the globe.