Academic Press Leiden is a student-run publishing house affiliated with the Boekwetenschap (Book Studies) programme at the University of Leiden. From its inception in 1990 the course programme has always attempted to bring together practice and theory, present and past. Besides a varied range of theoretical and historical courses, the programme offers, for example, guest lectures by professionals from the booktrade and practical printing workshops.
Academic Press Leiden was founded in 1992 to provide a medium in which practical and theoretial teaching could be fully fused, notably in a course entitled Publishing. The Publishing course concentrates on issues in publishing and bookselling in the late twentieth century, placing them against a historical background. Its main aim being to examine the place of books in society, now and in the past, it proceeds from the assumption that there is probably no better way to begin doing so than by actually producing and selling a book. In the course students work in project teams to see a book through the press from editing via designing and laying out to selling and distributing it. Academic Press Leiden was founded to act as the responsible publisher for the increasingly professional products of this annual Publishing course.
For the practical work in the course, Academic Press Leiden maintains a printing workshop fully equipped for letterpress printing and electronic pre-press. This Press Room, as it is usually referred to, may also be used by registered Book and publishing students for private projects.
While its earliest productions were simple four to eight-page pamphlets, in 1992 Academic Press Leiden acquired its name, a logo and an ISBN number, and started a more ambitious publishing programme. Three titles appeared in the first year, two of which are still in print: Beckett on Tape: Productions of Samuel Beckett's Work on Film, Video and Audio by Kees Hessing, and The Music at Long Verney by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
One of APL's most noteworthy achievements to date has been the publication, in a limited edition of 250 copies, of a full-size facsimile reproduction of a seventeenth-century panorama of London, a unique copy of which is held by the Leiden university library.