If you are an alum and have written a book—or more than one—a space is waiting for you on JHU's virtual Alumni Authors Bookshelf. You can join such distinguished names as Maryland's new governor, Wes Moore, A&S '01; bestselling novelist Ellen Sussman, A&S '78 (MA); and Pulitzer Prize–winning historian James McPherson, A&S '63 (PhD), among others who share their works with the Hopkins alumni community.
"Whether you are a nationally bestselling author or a doctor who just likes to write poetry, Hopkins will recognize you," says Marguerite Jones, senior director of Alumni Services. "The university sees this as one really good way to showcase our diverse and talented alumni. We're proud of what they do once they leave here, especially those who turn to writing."
There is no formal selection process. No reviews are needed, only an ISBN number to document that the book has been published and recorded. Authors must hold a degree from Hopkins, write a 50-word-maximum description of the book, and provide a thumbnail illustration of the cover. They also can include a link to buy the book, although it's unclear whether—or how much—having a book on the website boosts its sales, Jones says.
The bookshelf page lives on the Alumni Association website at the education and travel link, with about 400 books listed alphabetically by author's last name under specific topics, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, cooking, food and wine, and children's books, among others. It will be even easier to find books and authors once the bookshelf undergoes an upgrade this spring as part of the redesign of the entire alumni website.
The book site is expected to feature an expanded list of topics and a more efficient search function, says Gwen Harley, senior associate director of communications for Alumni Relations. The bookshelf was launched in 2011 to provide an opportunity for authors who sought mention of their works in the magazine, where there simply wasn't enough room to feature them all. So a friendly email told them, "Here's an even better idea," suggesting they submit their book information to the bookshelf, and telling them how to do it. "Hopkins has many successful alumni," Harley says. "Many of them are authors. This is one way we can support their efforts."
Traffic on the bookshelf page between Jan. 1, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2023, drew more than 750 views. "Until recently, we hadn't been promoting that page on our digital media, so that number actually is quite impressive," Harley says. "We do expect it to grow, however, once we redo the alumni website—including the bookshelf—where it will be more prominent and more aggressively promoted."