Pluto Press

Pluto Press is a British independent book publisher based in London, founded in 1969.[3] Originally, it was the publishing arm of the International Socialists (today known as the Socialist Workers Party), until it changed hands and was replaced by Bookmarks.

Pluto Press
FounderRichard Kuper
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon, N6
DistributionMarston Book Services (UK)[1]
Chicago Distribution Center (US)[2]
Key peopleVeruschka Selbach (CEO)
Publication typesBooks
Nonfiction topics"Progressive critical thinking across politics and the social sciences"

Pluto Press states that it 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."[4]

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, Euclid Tsakalotos and Jonathan Cook.[4]

History: 1969–1987

Pluto Press was set up in London by Richard Kuper in 1969 to support and promote political debate and activism. Its Trotskyist agenda stemmed from its early association with the International Socialists, which broadened to a wider revolutionary left in 1972 when Nina and Michael Kidron[5][6][7] joined. Anne Benewick and Ric Sissons joined soon after, and the team eventually reached 16 in number. Pluto Press has been described as "one of the most influential socialist publishing houses of that time".[8] Publishing extensively in the areas of movement history, race politics, Ireland, feminism and sexual politics, early successes included Sheila Rowbotham’s Hidden from History: 300 years of women’s oppression and the fight against it.[9] 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;[10] Liberation Classics in the 1980s; and the Big Red Diaries.[11] The most successful was the State of the World Atlas series by Michael Kidron & Ronald Segal.[12] – 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 organisations and networks, student unions, and theatre audiences as well as through the network of radical bookshops that emerged in the 1970s.[13] Pluto Press became a distributor and co-publisher of titles generated by Urizen Books[14] and South End Press[15] in the USA, and Ink Links[16] in the UK, as well as distributor for Counter-Information Services, History Workshop, Feminist Review and others. A trade sales organisation, 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 playscripts by printing programmes that included the entire play.[17][18] 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

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.[19][20][21] 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 for a "one state" solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[22] After briefly resuming the redistribution, the University of Michigan finally ceased it 2008, invoking differences in peer review standards.[23] The reason invoked by the University of Michigan was described as "a facade" by Roger van Zwanenberg, chairman of Pluto Press.[19]


  1. Marston Client List
  2. "Publishers served by the Chicago Distribution Center". Chicago Distribution Center, University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  3. "Pluto Press: About Us". Pluto Press. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  4. "Palgrave Macmillan: Pluto Press". Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  5. "Michael Kidron and Richard Kuper". Revolutionary History, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2003, pp. 281–85. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  6. "Michael Kidron and Pluto Press". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  7. "Obituary: Michael Kidron", The Guardian, 27 May 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  8. "Obituary: Michael Kidron". The Guardian. 27 March 2003. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  9. "Analysis of Hidden from History by Andy Blunden". From Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  10. Images of the Pluto Crime Series covers. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  11. Images of the Big Red Diary. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  12. Denis Herbstein, "Ronald Segal Obituary". The Guardian, 26 February 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  13. Andy Newman, "Left Bookshops". Socialist Unity, 18 October 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  14. "Artscritic blogspot: note on Urizen Books". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  15. " note on South End Press". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  16. "List of Ink Link publications". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  17. Caryl Churchill Biography lists Pluto Press titles. Retrieved 8 February 2013
  18. Snoo Wilson Biography lists Pluto Press titles. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  19. Jaschik, Scott (18 June 2008). "Michigan Severs Ties to Controversial Publisher". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  20. Kroll, Andy (23 January 2008). "Under fire, 'U' Press changes guidelines". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  21. "The University of Michigan Press: Distributed Clients". University of Michigan Press. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  22. Jaschik, Scott (11 September 2007). "A Book on Hold". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  23. Jennifer Howard, "U. of Michigan Press Will Stop Distributing Titles for 'Radical' Publisher", The Chronicle of Higher Education, 18 June 2008.
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