Much is made of the premise that scholarly communication is the driving force behind scholarly books and journals, but in this editorially-driven environment, the engine of that communication process, the marketing of scholarly books, is usually given short shrift and takes a back seat to the editorial role. Without effective marketing it is impossible to communicate the ideas contained in the books we publish.
For twenty of UBC Press' thirty-two years, one of its most important resources was the intellectual and emotional commitment of Berit Kraus to promoting its books. Her devotion to the scholarly works that the Press published was exceptional, and her loyalty to the Press and its authors has been unwavering.
Like our books, Berit's catalogues were meticulously crafted: each page an expression of extraordinary integrity. She never let her standards slip towards even a hint of hyperbole. There was never a misplaced ISBN or a wrong initial in an author's name, and every word was carefully considered and the product of a careful reading of the manuscript and the reviewers' notes.
Berit was not without contradictions. On one hand, she was the picture of Scandinavian precision and order, a baker of perfect delicate little delights and a disciplined runner. But even in a world of publishers and academics, where offices are routinely strewn with papers and books, her office was a monument to chaos. There should have been avalanche warnings at the entrance.
Generous to a fault, Berit was always willing to give a colleague the benefit of the doubt or a second chance. Most importantly she was a devoted wife to Alan, a mother to Kajsa and Per, and grandmother to Nathalie, Stella, and Linnea. And a very brave woman. All of us at the Press shared a little bit of her pain as she struggled against the scourge of brain cancer that so suddenly assailed her in the summer of 2000. We marveled at her resilience and shared the joy of her recovery as twice she fought back and seemed to triumph. Losing her has been a great blow to all of us.
Berit was an important pioneer of scholarly publishing in western Canada. She was also the dearly loved matriarch of our little family of authors and publishers. We miss her terribly.