Pluto Press

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Pluto Press
Status Active
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Headquarters location London
Distribution University of Chicago Press
Publication types Books
Nonfiction topics "Progressive critical thinking across politics and the social sciences"
Official website Official Website

Pluto Press is a British independent book publisher based in London and is distributed in the United States by University of Chicago Press, an international academic publishing company.[1] It has been "active for 40 years and independent since 1979."[2]

Pluto Press publishes "progressive critical thinking across politics and the social sciences, with an emphasis on the fields of Politics, Current Affairs, International Studies. Middle East Studies, Political Theory, Media Studies, Anthropology, Development."[3]

It has published works by Karl Marx, Frantz Fanon, Noam Chomsky, Bell Hooks, Edward Said, Augusto Boal, Vandana Shiva, Susan George, Ilan Pappé, Nick Robins, Graham Turner, Alastair Crooke, Gabriel Kolko, Hamid Dabashi, Tommy McKearney, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Syed Saleem Shahzad, David Cronin, John Holloway and Jonathan Cook.[3]

History: 1969-87[edit]

Pluto Press was set up in London by Richard Kuper in 1969 to support and promote political debate and activism. Its left-wing agenda stemmed from its early association with the International Socialists, which broadened to a wider revolutionary left in 1972 when Nina and Michael Kidron[4][5][6] joined. Anne Benewick and Ric Sissons joined soon after, and the team eventually reached 16 in number. Publishing extensively in the areas of movement history, race politics, Ireland, feminism and sexual politic, early successes included Sheila Rowbotham’s Hidden from History: 300 years of women’s oppression and the fight against it.[7] and Patrick Kinnersley’s Hazards of Work.

Series published during this period include: the Workers’ Handbooks; the Marxism Series: Ideas in Action; Militarism, State and Society series; Pluto Plays; Arguments for Socialism; Pluto Crime;[8] Liberation Classics in the 1980s; and the Big Red Diaries.[9] The most successful was the State of the World Atlas series by Michael Kidron & Ronald Segal.[10] – visual encapsulations of major social and political trends – which were created and produced by Pluto Press and published by Pan Books.

The target readership was reached by selling directly to trades unions, women's organizations and networks, student unions, and theatre audiences as well as through the network of radical bookshops that emerged in the 1970s.[11] Pluto Press became a distributor and co-publisher of titles generated by Urizen Books[12] and South End Press[13] in the USA, and Ink Links[14] in the UK, as well as distributor for Counter-Information Services, History Workshop, Feminist Review and others. A trade sales organization, Volume Sales, was set up in partnership with Allison & Busby, under the direction of Ric Sissons. New departures in publishing included working with Max Stafford-Clark and the Royal Court Theatre to encourage theatre-goers to read play scripts by printing programmes that included the entire play.[15][16] In 1987 Pluto Press was bought by Roger van Zwanenberg and Norman Drake. Drake later sold his shares to van Zwanenberg.

University of Michigan Press controversy[edit]

Prior to Palgrave Macmillan, Pluto Press was distributed by The University of Michigan Press in the United States. However, in June 2008, The University of Michigan Press terminated this relationship after new guidelines were established for its relationships with external publishing houses.[17][18][19] The decision came after a series of events tied to the distribution of a 2007 Pluto Press book, Overcoming Zionism (written by then- Bard College professor Joel Kovel), which argues "that the creation of Israel was a mistake and urges adoption of the "one state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians would form a new country, without a Jewish character."[20] After briefly resuming the redistribution, the University of Michigan finally ceased it 2008, invoking differences in peer review standards. The reason invoked by the University of Michigan was described as "a facade" by Roger van Zwanenberg, chairman of Pluto Press.[17]


  1. ^ "University of Chicago Press: Distribution Partners". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  2. ^ "Pluto Press: About US". Pluto Press. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Palgrave Macmillan: Pluto Press". Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  4. ^ "Michael Kidron and Richard Kuper". Revolutionary History, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2003, pp. 281–85. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Michael Kidron and Pluto Press". Retrieved 7 February 2013
  6. ^ "Obituary: Michael Kidron". Retrieved 8 February 2013
  7. ^ "Analysis of Hidden from History by Andy Blunden". From Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Images of the Pluto Crime Series covers". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  9. ^ "For images of some of the Big Red Diary see". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Ronald Segal Obituary". The Guardian, 26 February 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  11. ^ "A note on radical bookshops in the UK". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Artscritic blogspot: note on Urizen Books". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  13. ^ " note on South End Press". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  14. ^ "List of Ink Link publications". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  15. ^ Caryl Churchill Biography lists Pluto Press titles. Retrieved 8 February 2013
  16. ^ Snoo Wilson Biography lists Pluto Press titles. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  17. ^ a b Jaschik, Scott (2008-06-18). "Michigan Severs Ties to Controversial Publisher". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  18. ^ Kroll, Andy (2008-01-23). "Under fire, 'U' Press changes guidelines". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  19. ^ "The University of Michigan Press: Distributed Clients". University of Michigan Press. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  20. ^ Jaschik, Scott (2007-09-11). "A Book on Hold". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2012-08-08.