The acquisitions department, as its name suggests, acquires book proposals, inquiries and manuscripts from authors. An author can submit a letter of inquiry to the editor-in-chief of the press, John Byram, so he can determine if the proposed manuscript would fit in at the press in terms of quality, scholarship and subject matter. If Byram expresses an initial interest in the manuscript, the author is sent a manuscript information sheet and invited to send in two printouts and an electronic version of the manuscript.

The manuscript information sheet asks authors to give a brief summary of the text. The sheet also asks the author about the originality, timeliness and appeal to audiences of the manuscript. An author helps his or her case if the manuscript can be subsidized by an organization, usually the author's university.

After the press has received the information sheet, the acquisitions employees must find two reviewers in the given field to determine if the manuscript would contribute accurate and important scholarship to the subject. The reviewers typically have between four to six weeks to submit the reader questionnaire with an A-F grade for the manuscript.

Apart from processing and filing all the paperwork, the acquisitions department is responsible for keeping authors up-to-date on what's going on with their work. From the time that an author submits his or her manuscript to the press to the time the manuscript reaches the shelves in book form could take at least a year, but sometimes it could take almost eight years if revisions need to be made or the author needs to conduct more research. During this process, the department must make sure the author is putting in the time and effort.

Every four months, the department prepares about 20 manuscripts to submit to the editorial board. The department writes up editorial comments and organizes into a big docket the information sheets, questionnaires, author and reader resumes and authors' responses to the reviews.

The department also negotiates copyrights. Any time someone wants to use an excerpt from a book published by the press, that person needs to request permission from the press and pay a fee, even if it's the author of the book making the request. The acquisitions department has recently begun negotiating rights with authors to post their books to a digital repository called The Orange Grove, which provides students and professors free and equal access to important scholarship.